IPL 2016: Yusuf isn't just toying with bowlers, he is annihilating them

He had seen R Ashwin bamboozle Robin Uthappa and his captain Gautam Gambhir in the very first over. He found himself at the crease three balls into the run chase, albeit one which was just nine overs long thanks to a rain delay. And he got a jaffa first up. A carrom ball from Ashwin beat the bat and struck him on the pad. A long, loud desperate appeal followed. The umpire shook his head. Replays showed the ball probably pitched in line with leg stump but at normal speed there was doubt. And the benefit of the doubt went to the batsman.

Yusuf Pathan of KKR in action against Rising Pune Supergiants. BCCI

Yusuf Pathan of KKR in action against Rising Pune Supergiants. BCCI

Yusuf made sure there was not even a smidgeon of doubt about the result after that.

In his next over, Ashwin went to the carrom ball again. This time, Yusuf was ready. He waited an extra heartbeat for the ball to turn into this arc and then smote it back over the bowler’s head and into the crowd. When the ball rose into the air, Ashwin’s eyes grew big in anticipation. One heartbeat later, reality struck and they closed in frustration and resignation.

Ashwin followed that ball with his stock off-break. Again, Yusuf was ready. A powerful sweep sent the ball zooming to the deep square leg boundary. The gig was up. Twenty-two runs were plundered from Ashwin's second over, 20 of them by Yusuf. A potentially trick chase of 66 in nine overs was completed in just five, as Yusuf ended up on 37 not out from 18 balls and KKR won by seven wickets.

Yusuf's knock lifted his tournament average to 132.50 in 11 games. That's almost 60 an innings better than JP Duminy (75.20) in second place. Among batsmen who have made more than 150 runs this season, only AB de Villiers has a better strike-rate than Yusuf’s 165.62.

Yusuf isn't just toying with bowlers this season, he is annihilating them.

Earlier, the KKR spinners did their job brilliantly too. Piyush Chawla, Sunil Narine and Shakib al-Hasan bowled a combined total of 10.4 overs for just 52 runs while taking three wickets. Together, their economy rate was 4.87, slowing the RPS innings to a crawl. MS Dhoni, for example, could manage only eight runs from 22 balls.

To be fair, the Supergiants are at the bottom of the table and weren't the toughest competition KKR could have faced. And KKR's batting depth always meant they would be heavily favoured in a nine-over chase. But this was total domination.

Two wins from their final three games guarantees Kolkata a place in the Play-Offs yet again. One win could be enough too, depending on other results. The best team in the league over the last four years is living up to its reputation.


Published Date: May 15, 2016 10:49 am | Updated Date: May 15, 2016 10:49 am


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