Headishek show after Bhuvneshwar masterclass in Hyderabad

Openers smash fifties as SRH chased 166 in 58 balls and go third in the points table.
Headishek show after Bhuvneshwar masterclass in Hyderabad
Photo | Sri Loganathan Velmurugan

CHENNAI: A meeting of two ideologies. A more classical way of approaching T20s vs. the more vibey have-fun-with-the-bat and whatever happens, happens, way. Wicket preservation vs. going hard early doors. KL Rahul vs. Travis Head. This sort of matches can be great fun because of the contrasting forces at work. This was also, in a way, a fixture between Pat Cummins' Hyderabad against Justin Langer's Lucknow; two figures who won't necessarily be in the same elevator (the falling out goes back to the final days of Langer's coaching stint with the national team more than two years ago).

This encounter also marked the start of the home stretch of the league, with every match having implications for multiple teams. A Hyderabad win in this, for instance, would officially eliminate Mumbai Indians while sending Chennai to fourth from third. A Lucknow win, in contrast, would send Delhi to sixth, a place you don't want to be in with fixtures running out.

So all eyes were on the multiple protagonists on show after the visitors opted to bat first on a strip that looked like the surface of the Moon; it was so cracked, especially in the good length area on either side. Would it be KL Rahul's turn to stand up? What would Marcus Stoinis conjure? Pat Cummins to produce a masterclass?

While all three of those players left their mark — for a variety of reasons — on the game, it was Bhuvneshwar Kumar who quietly composed one of the best bowling performances in the recent history of the Indian Premier League. 4-0-12-2; 12 singles, 12 dots. He has the ability to use the new ball like how William Shakespeare used words; nothing out of place. In his first spell, all of which came inside the powerplay, he had the ball on a string as he mostly kept landing it in unhittable areas. That he was getting a modicum of movement both ways constantly troubled Quinton de Kock (1 off 4) Rahul (4 off 10) and Marcus Stoinis (1 off 3). That he also nipped out both De Kock and Stoinis helped the hosts grab the initiative.

He started the evening with a couple of inswingers to Rahul before he cramped De Kock for room. Rather than going across the left-hander, this one pitched just outside leg before holding its line. De Kock missed it completely but he was a touch unlucky to not get an edge.

Off the next over, Cummins conceded a six but the damage was non-existent as Kumar came back to take out the spine of the line-up. He was also helped by some outstanding catching as both Nitish Kumar Reddy and Sanvir Singh held on (the latter at long-leg just inside the boundary while the former had to dive forward full-length to take it inches off the ground at mid-on) to game-changing catches. With two wickets down, Rahul didn't show the necessary intent to put Kumar off. As a result, he was more than happy to keep pitching the ball in a Test-match length.

Cummins may have well bowled him out at a stretch but he kept his last over for the death where he showed his experience against Pooran. The West Indian, in the company of Ayush Badoni, lifted Lucknow to 165? Would it be enough?

The answer was known 45 minutes into the chase as Abhishek Sharma and Travis Head went absolutely crazy. Even by their lofty standards, they put on a boundary-hitting clinic to finish the chase in 9.4 overs.

By all metrics, it was jaw-dropping batting — more than 52% of all balls disappearing, with 148 coming in boundaries alone. Lucknow's score at the end of the powerplay was 27. Hyderabad scored 20 runs or more in three of their nine overs.

However, in the immediate aftermath of the Headishek show, it would be easy to miss Kumar's understated efficiency.

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The New Indian Express