It should be noted that when Tewatiya was struggling to middle the ball, even commentators were suggesting that he should give away his wicket and let another batsman try his fate. “It is just not his day”, they said.
Indian Premier League (IPL) started off with aspersions being cast out on how successful the tournament will be, considering it’s being played away from home, and without a live audience. However, the T-20 league has officially arrived with a scintillating game of cricket last night, and it has once again proved that Cricket can be a soothing escape during the testing times we face. The match last night, with Rahul Tewatiya written all over it, gave a similar soothing escape to many cricket fans.
When Rajasthan Royals (RR) skipper Steve Smith won the toss and invited KL Rahul, the captain of Kings 11 Punjab (KXIP) to bat, the cricketing experts including commentators were bewildered by the decision. Many thought that on a small ground like Sharjah if an opponent scores a huge total in the first innings, the decision to bowl first can backfire. And it did backfire!
KXIP skipper KL Rahul, and his mate from the Karnataka team Mayank Agarwal, gave a fabulous opening stand of 181 runs. When Mayank Agarwal got out after scoring a scathing ton filled with proper cricketing shots, 16.3 over had already been bowled. KXIP was certainly eying to put anything above 220 on the scoreboard. The 69 runs scored by skipper Rahul in 54 balls, with Mayank Agarwal scoring 106 off just 50 deliveries laid the foundation for the team, after which Nicolas Pooran did the remaining job by hitting 25 runs off the 8 deliveries in slog overs. KXIP finished at 223-2 after the end of 20 overs.
Chasing the mammoth total of 224, RR lost Jos Butler in the powerplay. RR was 19-1 after 2.2 over when Butler’s wicket fell. However, skipper Steve Smith and Sanju Samson showed their intent since the beginning. The Australian player scored 50 off just 27 deliveries. Sanju Samson, starting from where he had left in the last game, hit the KXIP bowlers all across the stadium, and sometimes beyond the stadium. When Steve Smith got out, RR had touched 100 runs within just 9 overs.
However, Steve Smith again took a decision that baffled many people. Indian youngster Rahul Tewatia was sent to bat at number 4. Looking at the required run rate for the Royals, it was evident that Tewatiya was sent for only one job- to smash every single delivery he can outside the boundary line. Tewatiya, meanwhile, struggled to even connect the ball with the bat for the first 20 deliveries he faced.
Sanju Samson, batting at the other end, was feeling the heat as Tewatiya couldn’t score. Despite the pressure, Samson kept the scoreboard moving. When Samson got out in 17th over, RR was at 161 runs, still requiring 63 runs off the remaining 23 deliveries.
What Tewatiya did in Sheldon Cottrel’s over was beyond anyone’s imagination. It should be noted that when Tewatiya was struggling to middle the ball, even commentators were suggesting that he should give away his wicket and let another batsman try his fate. “It is just not his day”, they said.
Tewatiya, who couldn’t connect a single ball for the first 20 deliveries he faced, hit 5 sixes to Sheldon Cottrell in 18th over. Cottrell conceded 30 runs in just one over to Tewatiya, ruining his bowling figures to 3-0-52-1.
— Sahil Iqbal (@Sahil_1qbal) September 28, 2020
Jofra Archer and Tom Curran completed the job for the RR. The Rajasthan Royals won the big chase with 4 deliveries balance.
After he became an overnight star by hitting Cottrell for 5 sixes and turning the match around in favour of RR, his self-belief did not waver despite the “worst 20 balls” he ever played early in his roller-coaster knock.
“The dugout knows I can hit the ball long. I knew I had to believe in myself. It was a matter of one six,” Tewatiya said.
After Tewatiya’s inning, many who were bashing him for the dot balls expressed disbelief over how the cricketer shifted gears within minutes. The old saying came back to the commentary box, and commentators unanimously accepted that we should “never write anyone off”.
Other than Tewatiya’s inning, the fielding effort by Nicolas Pooran on the boundary line also garnered eyeballs. Fans said the efforts by Pooran “defied gravity” and was probably “the best save” in cricket so far.
Can’t stop watching this catch by Nicholas Pooran pic.twitter.com/LMnM22RyLu
— Bunny (@Bunny_I_) September 27, 2020