Harbhajan Singh is a proud cricketer. More than 400 Test wickets and world titles in both the 50-over and 20-over formats justify that pride. So, the veteran doesn’t fancy being hit around by a much less experienced batsman in Suryakumar Yadav.
Harbhajan’s second ball was very wide outside off stump, and a four ensued past square leg through a premeditated sweep. The bowler had read the batsman’s mind right, but Yadav stuck to his guns and won, forcing Harbhajan to overcompensate and fire one wide down the leg side next ball. Then, Yadav teased the fielders at deep mid-wicket and long-on, as a lofted drive bisected them for another four. Two deliveries later, he drove Harbhajan against the turn and once again found the gap between extra cover and mid-off, despite being beaten in flight and the shot going aerial. Harbhajan is well aware of his erstwhile teammate’s innovations and hitting range. But Yadav’s irreverence visibly hurt his professional pride.
On Tuesday, against the defending champions and KKR’s bogey team, Rana did enough to rile up Trent Boult. He showed scant respect for the Kiwi fast bowler’s reputation. Rana stepped out and hammered the Mumbai Indians left-armer over cover for a six. He then shuffled across and swung another delivery for a boundary. Every time, Boult returned to his bowling mark muttering something under his breath. His response was a series of short deliveries, the last of which was so slow that it almost didn’t arrive. Rana waited and as the ball eventually looped on to him, he dragged it to deep square-leg. Rana and Boult exchanged a few words but both saw the funny side of it. Boult broke into a smile.
To appreciate the audacity of Suryakumar Yadav’s whipped six off Pat Cummins, one just needs to observe Hardik Pandya’s face at that moment. The second his colleague executed the splendorous stroke, a fully padded-up Pandya jumped out of his seat, his eyes popping out of the sockets as if they had spotted something remarkably unreal. Pandya kept applauding the shot even as it vanished into a cluster of empty seats, his lips still curled up in an “OH!”. It was that kind of stroke. Yadav just moved across a good delivery at high pace outside off-stump, and with a last split-second whirl of those dexterous wrists, sweet-talked (than hoofed) the ball onto the roof over backward square-leg, leaving beholders entranced. And Pandya’s eyes popping.
– Sandip G