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  • A special yorker from Ishant Sharma, an Under-19 star arrives at IPL and re-discovery of pinch-hitter Sunil Narine | Ipl News

A special yorker from Ishant Sharma, an Under-19 star arrives at IPL and re-discovery of pinch-hitter Sunil Narine | Ipl News


Rishabh Pant suddenly dropped his knees , as though he would scoop the ball. But he paused, not fully bent. In a semi-crouched pose, he waited for the ball to reach, almost suspended himself in that posture, gets a fraction away from the line of the ball to manufacture room on the leg-side, then raised his body a bit to ride the bounce and just flicked the ball away, behind square leg, with nothing but a neat swirl of the wrists. It was a stroke that was all hands and blistering bat speed. The pace of Venkatesh Iyer was perfect—neither too fast that he was compressed for time nor too slow that he was deprived of pace. Categorizing the stroke would be difficult, it was neither a scoop nor a flick, but it had elements of both. The Pant-scoop-flick, if you will. But that stroke liberated him— the knees were troubling Pant through much of the innings, he struggled for timing too, trying to overhit rather than time the ball. He ended up smearing Iyer for 28 runs in that over. The signs are there, that Pant is very nearly back to his best. A shard of light in blinding darkness.

For old time’s sake

Amidst the mayhem of boundaries, Ishant Sharma produced a yorker of bewildering precision. In the last over, KKR’s score on 264, Andre Russell in murderous touch, the forgotten Ishant Sharma conjured a toe-crusher from dreams. The ball fizzed low, veered frantically into middle and leg stump, seamed in a fraction and snuck underneath Russell’s desperate attempt to stub it out of dismantling his stumps. So fierce a ball that Russell lost his balance and lay spread on the floor. He gathered himself, winked at Ishant Sharma and shook his head in appreciation. The on-field screen flashed the speed of the ball—144 kph. Good old Ishant, shoved into wilderness, supposedly past his prime at 36, a link to another era of Indian cricket, showed he still has the fire and skill within him. It might not sit along the Ricky Ponting beauty in his greatest hit albums, or the dreamy knuckleball last IPL to befuddle Vijay Shankar, but Ishant showed he still can belt out a few old numbers.

Angkrish arrives

One of the stars of India’s 2022 U19 World Cup triumph, Angkrish Raghuvanshi has started life in the IPL in fine fashion. A 25 ball half century by the youngster against DC in Vizag was filled with some jaw-dropping classic strokeplay but also a dash of innovation sprinkled in. Angkrish, who wears No 18 and was India’s top scorer at the World Cup couple of years back, impressed with his wrist work back then and also the ability to play the pickup shot over midwicket. The 18-year-old, walking in at No 3 on Wednesday to join a rampant Sunil Narine, showed why he is so highly rated. A reverse scoop for six off a pacer was a highlight as was a swat over midwicket. Even when Narine was lighting up the stadium, Angkrish didn’t just sit back and play second fiddle. He took DC’s bowlers on. He moved from Delhi to Mumbai as a kid to pursue his cricket but now Kolkata is where he has the chance to shine at the highest level.

Mystery spinner, non-mystery batsman

From a mystery spinner who could bat a bit, Sunil Narine has transformed into a old-fashioned pinch-hitter who could produce a few tight overs and a wicket or two. As the mystery of bowling faded, the destructiveness of his batting soared. Batsmen no longer fear him as they once used to, rather has transferred that feeling to crestfallen new-ball bowlers. He has been diligently ironing out his flaws too, like the short-ball susceptibility. He is more composed in playing short balls these days, either swaying away from the line or slicing and cutting, when wide outside the off-stump. He uncorks the pull too, if the ball is not express quick. There is no mystery about his batting—he has stripped it down to the essentials, that is to hit a ball as long and clean as he could. It’s not shocking to listen to him saying that batting was his first love. “I love batting and batting is something I always enjoyed and I’m still enjoying it. I think bowling came second. I always put more focus on batting and at age 18-19, bowling took over. So I started batting less, which probably didn’t help but at the end of the day, it happened. And I wouldn’t have it the other way,” he had once said. And his love for batting is flowing untrammeled like a furious stream.

Two to tango

Phillip Salt vrooms into fifth gear from ball one; his partner Sunil Narine throws his bat wantonly at the ball straightaway. The unusual pair have furnished lightning starts to KKR, 60 off 4.3 overs against DC . Salt is brutal square of the wicket, his boundary-strokes a melange of fierce cuts, slices and swishes. He is a modern-day T20 buccaneer, but without the pyrotechnics. Narine, on the other hand, is a throwback, the one you come across in the tennis-ball cricket circuit, blessed with impeccable hand-eye coordination.

His hitting is ludicrously simple, yet unstoppable when he gets going. He lurches to the back-foot, opens up his body, clears his front-leg and swings the ball wherever he wants to. He does the basics so well, that he seldom goes across, seldom attempts fancy strokes and often looks to hit down the ground with his body facing the bowler. Salt has stuck at a strike rate of 141; Narine at 202.





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