Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) could well call themselves Rising Pune Slower-giant. For the fourth time now, they have won a game on a sluggish pitch by virtue of the variety of slower balls and cutters that their bowlers have dished out.
In their game against Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Chinnaswamy, they prospered by putting more revolutions on the ball than there were in France in the late 1700s. On that occasion, they had exploited the ‘you miss I hit’ doctrine, by targeting the stumps.
On Saturday evening in Hyderabad, they used the same deliveries but on a different line against the Sunrisers. The RPS bowlers used wide slower ones in the latter half of their innings, making it harder for the batsmen to control their shots, and in the process handing Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) their first home loss this year.
In a match that is decided towards its twilight, in this case the last over, it is easy to distill a game into the last plays, the six balls, or the last desperate shots. Indeed, Jaydev Unadkat’s unbelievable last over was certainly a candidate for Man of the Match, but unless you had spectacles as thick as Isaac Davis’ were in Manhattan, you can surely see there were also other characters who scripted the win.
There were a number of actors, some lead, some supporting, who played a part in the RPS win. The nominees are:
Ben Stokes for his role with the bat in ‘Saved By The Grill’
On a wicket where the powerplay saw just one six, and the first four was scored in the 14th over, Stokes played a quick yet meaty role. With 39 off 25 balls, he gave the innings some structure. At first he dealt in ones and twos, until finally he set his sights on left arm spinner Bipul Sharma. He hit three of the six sixes in the game off Bipul, and had a strike rate of over 150 despite his initial inertia.
He could not make the most of his fortune though; he was castled a ball after he could have been both stumped and caught behind, had it not been for Naman Ojha’s hard hands and pesky helmet.
MS Dhoni for his role in ‘Purple Is My Favourite Colour’
Dhoni should be applauded for playing a role that was outside his comfort zone. He has acquired a reputation of being a slow starter this season, but in Saturday’s performance, went hammer and tongs early on. He even attempted to slog sweep Bhuvaneshwar Kumar.
While he barely survived the attempt, he did manage to take 19 runs off the 19th over bowled by Bhuvaneshwar, once again taking his purple cap to the cleaners. Like Stokes, despite the slowness of the pitch, he used his power to make up for it, as Steve Smith noted after the game. “The stronger boys were able to get the most out of it," Smith said. “Us guys who didn’t hit it so hard struggled a bit.”
Imran Tahir for his role in ‘The Sprinting Magician’
While Tahir did not run through the SRH batting, he provided four overs of control, interspersed some moments of magic. The scene where he foxes and castles Moises Henriques encapsulates him on a cricket pitch; skill, guile, and then unconcealed emotion. He should also have had Yuvraj Singh for his efforts.
If there had been a ‘Best Supporting Man of the Match award’, it would surely be his. Or Smith’s. Or Ajinkya Rahane’s. There is no ‘Best Supporting Man of the Match’ award. Next nominee please.
Ben Stokes for his role with the ball in ‘The Big Fish’
There is no better way to stake your claim on the award than to claim the wickets of three big names in the opposition. For the first two, Ben Stokes produced a couple of deliveries that would not be out of place in the Ashes Tests that will start in a few months. And for the third, he picked up the SRH captain, the man fresh from a hundred not two games before. Talk about making a statement that the Academy members commentary panel can’t (but did) ignore.
Jaydev Unadkat for his role in ‘Cheap Thrills’
Unadkat now has 14 wickets at the death, and his left-handed version of the off-cutter is proving difficult to get away. That, combined with the variation he brings by coming either around the wicket or over the wicket has made him a dependable quantity in RPS’s success. On Saturday night though, he put in a performance perhaps even he would not have dreamed possible: a triple-wicket maiden.
Granted the value of a hat-trick in T20 cricket is diminished, and also granted all his wickets were lower-order batsmen. But still, the stuff of dreams, right? Right?
Unfortunately for the other contenders, it was Unadkat, lucky son of a gun, slowest of the slower-giants, who claimed the statue trophy. Certainly a fair decision that will Stoke no jealousy in the RPS camp in the week-long break before their next game.
Snehal Pradhan is a former India cricketer and now a freelance journalist. She hosts the YouTube series ‘Cricket How To’ and tweets @SnehalPradhan
Updated Date: May 07, 2017 10:48 AM