Indian Premier League: David Warner’s sweet revenge, Jasprit Bumrah explodes
David Warner fires back at his ex-team at the first opportunity, Virat Kohli’s collection of golden ducks keeps growing, Jasprit Bumrah pulls a magic spell out of nowhere and Liam Livingstone pushes the boundaries of innovation.
Here’s another weekly look at the 2022 Indian Premier League.
Warner’s Sweet Revenge
This has to be one of the most satisfying returns on investment. David Warner was first sacked by Sunrisers Hyderabad as captain last season and then the franchise he led to their only IPL title in 2016 also dumped him as a player. Things got to the point where Warner wouldn’t even travel with the ground crew for games and instead stayed at the team hotel.
So when the Delhi Capitals took on the Sunrisers at Cricket Club of India last Thursday, all eyes were naturally on what Warner would do. Probably the only thing more ominous than a Warner charged from the outside is when the man takes heed with that cold, steely determination over my corpse. It was this last avatar who had left his old franchise for which he had counted more than 4,000 races.
He began hammering Umran Malik’s blistering pace all around the floor with the effortless ease of a man for his usual morning walk. Slower bowlers were treated with even more disdain. He hardly seemed to care about landmarks; there was just a relaunch from the bat to the dugout for his fiftieth birthday. And although he came into the last of 92 with the best chance of getting that hundred to rub it more, he told Rovman Powell to hit as many as he could and just folded everything else. on the side of the non-attackers.
After nine games in this IPL, he is averaging 53.57 with a strike rate of 156.90. And fittingly, his best score of the season came against his former team. What made the Sunrisers think he was done as a hitter? “I didn’t need any extra motivation. We’ve all seen what’s happened before in the past,” was what Warner had to say, somewhat cryptically, after a player-of-the-match performance.
It’s a one-ball game, Virat
Mumbai’s commuter rail network is taking half a break on Sundays as some tracks are taken off the network for maintenance. This increases the load on the rest of the network and it can be particularly difficult to get into town to catch an afternoon game at Wankhede Stadium at the height of May. But if it’s a Royal Challengers Bangalore game, you can be sure thousands of people will brave the heat and fill the stands, mostly to watch that batman Virat Kohli. So the air of expectation gradually built around the floor as RCB opted to strike first, and the usual ovation greeted Kohli as he strode out to start the game.
Harmless first delivery from slow left arm J Suchith, fully angled into the pad. Kohli has turned the same square delivery out of the mark countless times in white-ball cricket. But when things aren’t going well for you, everything can get awful pretty quickly. Kohli pushes on it and it pops straight to an overjoyed midwicket. The crowd is stunned beyond belief.
Three first-ball ducks in one IPL season? That’s as much as Kohli has earned in the previous 14 league seasons combined. The man himself went from typically passionate disappointment to unusually sullen resignation. He quietly walks away and slowly climbs the stairs to the lodge, as if contemplating how the gods have turned against him.
Meanwhile, fans console themselves with a hearty cheer every time the ball goes to Kohli on the pitch later. And they forget their disappointment when he catches Aiden Markram in the depths. Kohli allows herself a sheepish smile. He knows his form is finicky, but his millions of fans are not.
Boom go Bumrah
It’s been an indifferent season by Jasprit Bumrah’s standards. He hasn’t had much support from the rest of the Mumbai Indians attack, teams are looking to play him largely anyway, and so he has mostly become wicketless. But when ‘Boom’ is in the mood, there’s no escaping for hitters. It doesn’t matter how much the opposition seemingly controls the game.
The Kolkata Knight Riders were 123 for 2 of 13 overs at DY Patil Stadium. Enter Bumrah and chaos ensues. Andre Russell is first stowed with a laser-guided yorker. And the next ball stands on the great all-rounder, who does not back down and decides to face it, to offer a simple long-term hold. Bumrah knows he’s cracked the code to rip through what is essentially a vulnerable shortball formation. He has that bounce in his stride that indicates he is busy and eager to execute his plan.
Almost nothing pitches in the batting half now. Nitish Rana, Sheldon Jackson, Pat Cummins, Sunil Narine – all more than capable hitters rendered helpless by one ugly bouncer after another on a big outfield where misses normally won’t fly for six years. Two overs of utter chaos later, KKR moved to 165 for 9, having been in clear sight of 200 before Bumrah intervened. It’s another matter of MI messing up what appears to be a straightforward pursuit, but there can only be one player in the match here. How often do you see numbers of 4-1-10-5 in a T20? The greatest tribute to the fate is when no less than someone of Cummins’ stature says in the post-game press conference that Bumrah showed KKR how to play on this court.
The Long and the Short, by Livingstone
Depending on the pitch used on the square, one square boundary is mostly slightly longer than the other, and the difference is magnified when one of the two wickets at either end of the square is used. But T20 teams can also push their tactical responses to boundary variations to ridiculous lengths. Such was the case in Wankhede when the Punjab Kings took on the Rajasthan Royals.
Trying to force Liam Livingstone and Jitesh Sharma to strike down the longer side, Prasidh Krishna circled the stumps, with a crowded offside field including a fly slide, a third man, a deep point, a sweeper cover, extra cover and mid-off. Knowing that Krishna’s line would be wide, Livingstone went to stand at least where the sixth stump would have been, exposing the three sticks. Krishna immediately approached the referee for a word, but Livingstone held his ground.
The problem with making it such an obvious tactic is that unless you want to bluff, the batter will also be ready with his answer. And Sharma and Livingstone were ready to stretch their bodies and carve wide balls midway for the boundaries. Krishna tried to come back over the wicket, but Livingstone was quick enough to shuffle and take a spin on the vacant long rope.
Krishna returned to go around the stumps, and Livingstone returned to his guard one foot outside the stump. It was then that Krishna did something that perhaps he should have done a few times before. It went fast, full and straight to the stumps. There wasn’t much Livingstone could do about a fast yorker from his border position on the outside. As soon as the bails flashed red, Livingstone turned and left the scene.