"Cricket is a game of unpredictabilities..." It's an age-old cliché. Yet, each time Rahul Tewatia bails Rajasthan Royals out from a hopeless situation in this Indian Premier League (IPL), the phrase tends to resurface in our mind and the way this cricketer is making a habit of producing such remarkable turnarounds, soon it won't be surprising if 'doing a Tewatia' becomes a popular cricketing verse at all level.
Nevertheless, on Sunday (11 October), unlike Tewatia's claim to fame knock in Sharjah, it was not a one-man show. Here, he got an equally impressive partner at the other end in the form of 18-year-old Riyan Parag, who made some sort of a reputation for himself as a finisher in last year's IPL. Though this year, before this game, the youngster was having a forgettable outing (scored 6, 0, 1, and 16 in the previous four innings) and had to face the axe in a couple of matches.
But the teenager turned the tide in his favour when it mattered the most for him as well as for his team.
Tottering at 78 for 5 in the 12th over in a run-chase of 159 against a Sunrisers Hyderabad attack, which appeared to be ideally suited to that tiring Dubai surface, a fifth defeat on the trot in this IPL seemed inevitable for Rajasthan. And with just four points in the bag, the Royals couldn't afford to lose another match in order to have a realistic chance of making it to the playoffs.
Under these circumstances, the Parag-Tewatia partnership blossomed.
They were the last recognised batting pair in the middle and Rajasthan needed 54 in the last four, with one over of Rashid Khan to encounter. At that point for the duo, the target pretended to be like asking people to maintain social distancing in a Mumbai local train.
Then came the Sandeep Sharma over which gave them a ray of hope. The first ball was pitched at the back of length and Tewatia pulled it powerfully through mid-wicket for a six. A perfect start. Next, when Parag got the strike, he hit the fourth and fifth balls for boundaries and eventually 18 runs were scored off that over.
"I told Riyan that the wicket was playing slow, as we saw from the outside also, and the deeper we take it, the better our chances," Tewatia said at the post-match presentation. "Even if we needed 55-60 from the last four overs, we had a chance because we both do power-hitting well."
Next over was the game-changer. With 35 runs to play with, David Warner brought back his trump card Rashid, who earlier bowled an impeccable spell of 11 for 2 in his first three.
Parag took a single in the first ball. Next two, Tewatia reverse-swept for consecutive boundaries. He was not afraid to take on the opposition's best bowler and that too in the most unconventional fashion. The fourth delivery also went to the boundary, but this time through the cover region.
"I told him (Parag) if you take a single off the first ball, I would take a chance," Tewatia said. "I saw the field (third man and point up), and I thought I could play a reverse sweep with this field. I took a chance on the first two balls, and both connected."
Rajasthan managed to get 14 precious runs from that Rashid over and smiles were back in their dug-out. The 19th over, bowled by T Natarajan also saw Tewatia producing a six and a boundary. With just eight needed in the last six balls, by that time the Royals camp knew that the pair wouldn't let this one go.
Eventually, without any twist in the tale, the game was over by 19.5 overs. It was Parag who hit the winning shot - a six over deep point off Khaleel Ahmed and celebrated the end of Rajasthan's losing streak with a traditional Assamese dance.
Such an incredible triumph is bound to lift the morale in the Rajasthan camp, especially because it was primarily manufactured by two youngsters, who refused to give up when the chips were down. Second time in two weeks, the Royals had managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, and on both occasions their uncapped players, whose combined remuneration is just Rs 50 lakh (Tewatia 30 lakh and Parag 20 lakh), have been the torch-bearers.
Maybe it's time for their marquee boys to buckle up and justify their price tags.
Perhaps, Sunday's victory was the spark Rajasthan required to put their patchy campaign back on track. At least, these two points will allow them to have a breathing space. Though they still need to identify their best XI. They still have to find a method not losing too many wickets in the powerplay (this season Rajasthan have lost 14 wickets in the powerplay, which is the most by any team in this competition). They should also consider dropping the idea of wasting Ben Stokes at the top.
So, the team still has plenty of mess to sort out. The sooner they do it, the better the chances of Rajasthan Royals 'doing a Tewatia' in this IPL 2020.
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