Blazing Indians

There are some really good Indian batsmen, some of whom have not even played for the country, who have risen to the occasion in IPL 7. By V. V. Subrahmanyam.

For a change, all the game-changers in IPL-7 were not the big guns from abroad . No doubt, the focus, quite expectedly, has been on the likes of big-hitting foreign players like Dwayne Smith, Brendon McCullum, AB de Villiers, Glenn Maxwell, David Miller, David Warner, Aaron Finch, Steve Smith and James Faulkner to name a few.

But the first two Hyderabad games featuring local heroes Sunrisers against Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab served a gentle reminder that there are some really good Indian batsmen, some of whom have not even played for the country, who can rise to the occasion.

The exciting stroke-maker Ambati Rayudu made a big impact with his 46-ball 68 when Mumbai Indians romped home against SRH while chasing 158. In a way it was a different kind of experience for Rayudu — playing in front of his home crowd (he is a Hyderabadi who now plays for Baroda in the Ranji Trophy) and apparently not unfamiliar with the playing conditions.

“Hyderabad has always been a special place for me for obvious reasons. I enjoyed playing this kind of knock which helped the team’s cause,” said Rayudu.

And the crowds simply loved it when Rayudu pulled Irfan Pathan to the fence and then hit a huge straight six in one over. He is known for such authoritative strokes, but quite often he disappoints his fans for not being consistent.

“Yes, I would love to play a lead role in finishing off the games. It is not impossible. I would love to play like the way I did today,” Rayudu said after MI’s victory over SRH. The next game between SRH and Kings XI Punjab showcased the batting skills of domestic players — Naman Ojha, Manan Vohra and Wriddhiman Saha.

When SRH posted its highest score of 205 in this IPL, it was largely due to Ojha, who smote a brilliant 79 not out (36 balls, 4x4, 7x6). The ease with which he stepped out to the spinners Shivam Sharma and Akshat Patel or stood up to the pace of Sandeep Sharma and Rishi Dhawan was a pleasant sight. It was a different issue that it ended in a lost cause for SRH. The reason being that Wriddhiman Saha stunned the SRH bowlers and the near-capacity crowd with some extravagant stroke-play.

“We went out with a clear strategy of taking optimum advantage of the power-play. There was no pressure at all in chasing such a big score. We were always confident as we have done that before,” pointed out Saha, who was named ‘Man of the Match’ for his stupendous 26-ball 54 (8x4, 2x6).

In a line-up which has the likes of Virender Sehwag, Maxwell, Miller and George Bailey, it was indeed a very creditable performance from Saha. However, Manan Vohra’s equally effective 20-ball 47 (5x4, 2x6) didn’t get the focus it deserved. He was also instrumental in ensuring a blazing start against one of the best bowling attacks led by Dale Steyn.