Samson and Tewatia star in historic run chase
“When life knocks you down, it is one’s wish to hit back or lay back”. This was one of the famous quotes said by the legend Jackie Chan which is still vividly stuck on to my head. Having seen myself hit the rock bottom on many occasions, I realized it could be none except myself who has to bounce back and mend things up right. When I tuned into my television with such a mindset after a setback, I couldn’t have got better wavelength sync with the way the Royals thumped over the mighty Kings. Punjab looked like the team to beat for, in this edition of IPL after their valiant fight against Capitals and one sidedly mauling the Challengers. With both teams boasting a dynamite like batting order and the match taking place at Sharjah, it was evident that it could be one of the high scoring thrillers in the history of IPL. To avow that claim, Royals roped in Jos Buttler as well for the game.
Kings XI Punjab opened the batting first with two cracking Karnataka batsmen Agarwal and Rahul taking the field. They continued from where they left in the previous game. Both the batsmen never took time to get settled as they got going from ball one. With ridiculously small ground dynamics, even a mistimed short from Rahul, or a hard hitting bouncer from Jofra Archer could see the ball sailing over the fence. The pair started scoring at a strike rate of 10 RPO through the powerplay and they upped the ante to mountain a towering opening partnership of 183 runs in just 16.3 overs with Mayank Agarwal reaching his maiden ton. Rahul on the other hand was oozing fire with 69 runs before he fell off to Rajpoot. With Nicholas Pooran and Maxxie doing the final rights, Kings amassed a total of 223/2 in 20 overs. None of the bowlers were economical as it was supposed to happen in the middle of a desert storm. In this innings Rahul and Agarwal’s partnership bagged the honor of being the third best opening partnership in IPL behind Warner-Bairstow massacre vs RCB in 2019 and Gambhir-Lynn’s knock against Gujarat Lions in 2017. Kings added one more feather in their hat by securing another 220+ score in their kitty.
With mammoth task ahead, two stalwarts of white ball cricket took the field with an emotion like ready to murder the bowlers. But Jos couldn’t last and that led to the inform batsman Samson to feature in the middle. Boy! He too was in tremendous form from his last assault against CSK. He had been a gem for Rajasthan Royals for many years with single handedly fighting in multiple games across multiple seasons and managed to even take RR through to playoffs in one of them He has two IPL centuries to his name and tons and tons of domestic runs and experience. If not for him, no other person would be heavily knocking on the doors of Indian Selection Board. Having battled a lot through his mental trauma over the lack of opportunities and career seeing a stand still, he elucidated a point in the post match presentation where he took time to understand his needs and answered some critical questions of his life. He decided to give everything for the game and that rewards him back now. He had beautifully set the stage for what has to become an historic run chase when they were comfortable at the driver seat with 100/2 in 9 overs. But then rose the heart beat. Smith sent in the infamous Rahul Tewatia at number 4, hoping that he could just swing his bat around for a few balls and get the pressure off from Sanju. But the first half of his innings was completely disastrous. Even he acknowledged that it was the worst 20 balls that he played in his life. Samson was effortlessly switching gears to go all guns blazing but Tewatia was blindly mistiming every shot and he consumed a lot of dot balls. His score read 8 runs of 17 balls with 12 dot balls.
In a chase of 224, consuming 2 overs of dot balls is a crime. This not only added pressure on himself, but it burdened Samson also and he succumbed to that. All the faces were glaring in despair and Tewatia himself would be wondering how to proceed further. But what he showed following that, was a sheer display of mental and emotional strength. For such an underrated star like him with both bat and ball, he could have easily thrown up his wicket and buried the run chase along with his pride in the graves. But he withstood that. He knew he had the ability and the captain and management had seen the talent within him and he had to believe in himself. All he needed was just one right ball to get his confidence boosted high. And serve a military feast for him came Sheldon Cottrell to bowl the 18th over. Bang, bang, bang, bang, bannnngggg! 5 huge sixes off that over and the required run rate plummeted steeply. It was not so easy to hit one of the fierce bowlers, who grabbed VK the other night, all over the park. More than Tewatia the batsman, it was Tewatia the individual who rose to the occasion. He broke the shackles and within 20 minutes he proved that he could single handedly turn the game towards his team and Royals effortlessly won it with 3 balls to spare. With this victory, RR scripted history as they pulled off the most successful run chase in the history of IPL surpassing their previous best against Deccan Chargers.
This game would be one of the best games in the history of IPL and would remain in my memory forever. It was a game filled with emotions. Game filled with lots of inspiration and learning. Game filled with lots of hope and triumph! For a batsman like Samson, this season should turn out to open the doors for his national duties. For domestic talents like Tewatia, Gopal and youngsters like Jaiswal and Parag, they should take home a lot of experience and memories from this edition. And for future stars like Rahul and Mayank, they have strongly cemented their place in the Indian Team. Just purely loved the masterclass show put up by these homegrown talents.