Priyam Garg wanted to be a swing bowler like his Sunrisers Hyderabad teammate Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Hailing from Parikshitgarh, 20km from Meerut, Garg was registered at the same cricket academy as Bhuvneshwar and Praveen Kumar. But after a few sessions, the academy coach saw his talent with the willow and advised him to concentrate on his batting. A few years later, Garg captained the India Under-19 team to the World Cup, but it was his swashbuckling innings of 51 from 26 balls against the Chennai Super Kings last night that drew more attention. Garg’s maiden IPL half-century was pivotal in Hyderabad’s seven run victory over the Chennai Super Kings.
Garg strode in at the departure of skipper David Warner at 69-3, one ball later he was audacious to refuse a single from Kane Williamson that saw the Kiwi skipper being run-out by Ambati Rayudu. Garg’s decision to knock back the single was spot on. Williamson was furious, but Garg remained composed. He wasn’t going to be flustered and backed his cricketing instincts. It was the sign of his maturity. At 69-4, Hyderabad would have hoped for some form of competitiveness from Garg, 20 and Abhishek Sharma, 19, but they got more.
The average age of Chennai’s playing XI was 33, Garg and Sharma's accumulated age is 39. Garg shifted gears by first targeting the 22-year-old Sam Curran. Until the 17th over, Garg had shown immense maturity by taking a risk-free approach to score 15 off 10 balls. But it would be Curran’s over that showcased his power and flair.
After a couple of wide balls from Curran, he realised hitting the wide full tosses down the ground was going to be a challenge, so he simply opened the blade at impact and sent the ball racing to the vacant third man region. He knew Curran had to change his line, so when he did, he went deep in his crease and swiped the incoming ball over the square leg-fence. Curran had tried everything, but a length ball and Garg waited for it. But instead of trying to clear the long boundary, he, once again, used the pace of the ball to strike his fourth boundary of the over. In one over, the pendulum has swung. A classy paddle scoop off Dwanye Bravo in the 19th over was the icing on the cake. A young, raw, stroke-maker was torturing the veterans.
Garg finished with an unbeaten 51 from 26 balls, the last 35 had come from just 16 deliveries. Hyderabad had managed to score 77 off the last seven overs. Far too often, Hyderabad had relied on David Warner to finish the innings with a bang, but last night it was a youngster batting in the middle order. It was the way Garg and Sharma resurrected the innings that would have impressed the coaching staff the most.
While Garg was emphatic with the bat, one just had to wait 15 minutes to understand his liking for swing bowling in those early days in Meerut. As Garg stood in the field, he would have seen Bhuvneshwar hoops the new ball through the air like a magician. It was the most the ball had swung this season and it was fascinating to see an even contest between bat and ball.
Bhuvneshwar’s opening spell laid the foundation for the Sunrisers. The Super Kings didn’t hit their first boundary until the last ball of the fourth over. It was tricky and it was a challenge. Bhuvneshwar’s curly inswinger either kissed the inside edge of Watson’s bat or thudded into his pads. This was Shane Watson, a man that has opened the batting on 52 occasions for Australia. Finally, he perished chopping a ball that swung back late.
Faf Du Plessis struggled for the first time in this IPL as the swing bowlers were finally having a say. Couple of overs later, left-armer T Natarajan moved the ball enough through the air to dislodge Ambati Rayudu.
The Sunrisers top order had their share of problems against the moving ball as well. Deepak Chahar was outstanding as shaped two balls away and then brought one in to castle Jonny Bairstow. It took David Warner 16 balls to hit his first boundary. After 14 matches, it was refreshing to see the swing bowlers stamp their authority in the tournament.
Perhaps it was that tough initiation and the middle order wobbles that made Garg’s innings even more promising. One thing is for sure, the Sunrisers are a team that will fancy defending any total with their bowling line-up. The top-order is yet to shine collectively, but at least they can now feel comfortable and believe in their young bridge in the middle order.
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