Missing Mohit, Sublime Samson, and a Hetmyer Heist


Atreyo Mukhopadhyay


No Mohit? What was this?

This was downright unbelievable. Your Player of the Match from the previous game bowls two superb overs, going for just seven runs, and then does not get to bowl again! Hardik Pandya and Ashish Nehra, captain and coach of Gujarat Titans, what did you do? Not giving Mohit Sharma another over should go down as one of the biggest blunders in IPL history. The match was in their pocket. What they needed was another low-cost over, which Mohit was delivering with those impeccable length balls and a hint of cut. But instead, they went for Noor Ahmed, their Impact Player, and others, and paid the price. Ahmed, the left-arm unorthodox bowler from Afghanistan, is not bad. He can be quite deceptive. But to not use Mohit at all in the last few overs was absurd. He had tightened the screws on the opposition and when they threatened to break free and eventually did, you kept him away.


Sanju times it to perfection

One has to acknowledge the bravado shown by Shimron Hetmyer in closing out what had looked an unlikely chase at one stage. But the innings of the match was played by Sanju Samson. Often criticised, validly, for his inconsistency, he was just perfect today. Everything he played was correct. Be it defending or attacking, he did it in the best possible manner. The ball was tamed and so were the bowlers. In a T20 match where mishits are accepted, he did not mistime any. It was bold, as well as beautiful. Think of the two miserly overs bowled by Mohit. Samson was on strike even then, and timing every ball to perfection. Yes, the shots reached the fielders instead of going beyond them, but the confidence he gained from those shots was reflected soon after when he hit Rashid Khan for three successive sixes. You do not see that very often.


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Hetmyer’s day to repay the faith

Now, come to Hetmyer. A monstrous striker of the ball, as everyone knows. But to time a chase to this kind perfection is something which is not always associated with him. He will go out there, slam a few improbable sixes and then get out. This match saw him play much more maturely. He eschewed his natural instinct of going after every ball. He waited for the right balls to hit, and hit them with a lot of vengeance and impact. Impact player? Here was your man for the day. He looks unfit, with a silhouette that certainly doesn’t gel with modern-day ideas of what a sportsperson should look like. But the punch he packs in his shots is quite something. The way he hit the ball deep into the stands was serious, cold-blooded murder of the bowling. And he pulled it off when the match was going away from his team. Rajasthan Royals can dream big this season. One of the reasons is because they have Hetmyer in their ranks.


Ashwin’s spin with the bat

Their vaunted spin department went for a toss. Ravichandran Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal and Adam Zampa could not put the Gujarat Titans on a leash. But when it came to the crunch, their most experienced spinner shone with the bat. Ashwin survived just three balls but he made two of those count, to telling effect. A deep thinker of the game, he has mastered how to use the depth of the crease and stay still until the last moment. The first ball from Mohammad Shami that he smacked over cover for four was a bit short and wide. But the second one he pulled out of the ground was not that short. He got back as far as he could and converted it into a rank short ball. These two were pivotal shots during a chase that looked like falling apart in one point of time.


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