IPL: Hetmyer lights up Bangalore

SUMMARY: Royal Challengers Bangalore 178 for 6 (Hetmyer 75, Gurkeerat 65) beat Sunrisers Hyderabad 175 for 7 (Williamson 70*, Washington 3-24) by four wickets

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Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Parthiv Patel – the heart, heartbeat and spine of Royal Challengers Bangalore all gone inside three overs of a 176 chase. It must have been a cakewalk for Sunrisers Hyderabad, right? It wasn’t.

Shimron Hetmyer and Gurkeerat Singh gave RCB a peek into the potential returns they could deliver if retained going forward. The pair put together 144 for the fourth wicket as RCB walked home without breaking sweat.

Meanwhile, all Sunrisers can now do is bite their fingernails, hoping Mumbai Indians help them make the playoffs by beating Kolkata Knight Riders tomorrow.

RCB’s indifferent start

Twenty minutes into the game, Kohli was tearing his hair out. Umesh Yadav continued to get whacked, Kulwant Khejroliya failed to cover for a throw that resulted in four extra runs and Yuzvendra Chahal fluffed a regulation chance at deep square leg.

Martin Guptill seemed to be doing alright, getting outside leg to counter Umesh’s late movement and helping himself to disdainful slaps. At the other end, Wriddhiman Saha, who should have been out for 5, cracked a hat-trick of fours off Chahal and Sunrisers motored to 44 for 0 in four overs.

Saha couldn’t cash in on the reprieve, falling for 20 when he mistimed a hoick to mid-on off Navdeep Saini. The onus was on Manish Pandey, the in-form local boy, to sustain the early momentum. But he couldn’t.

Washington Sundar proves himself

Washington was brought in for only his third game this season. Why? Only Kohli can answer that. Was it lack of confidence in the 20-year old’s abilities? Sure, the Chinnaswamy surface doesn’t help spin bowlers but Washington doesn’t claim to be a turner of the ball.

Off his second delivery, he had Guptill chip a flat delivery to Kohli at short midwicket. Off his fifth, he had Pandey mistiming a pull to Shimron Hetmyer, who tumbled around to take the catch inches from the ground at deep square leg.

The biggest strike, however, was the one to get rid of his Tamil Nadu team-mate and India’s new ODI No. 4 Vijay Shankar, who was coming into the game with three of his most-recent scores reading 12, 7*, 8 and 26.

On Saturday, Vijay had no trouble playing his trademark lofted shots into the leg side and seemed to get into his hitting gear, even crashing Washington for a couple of sixes.

But the offs-pinner changed tactics after getting hit, going round the wicket and forcing the batsman to hit against the angle if he wanted to access the leg side. Vijay went for the slog sweep, mistimed it and was caught at short fine leg.

Just reward for Washington’s bravery in the face of an onslaught, at a venue where the boundaries are a spinner’s biggest enemy. His figures on the night read a creditable 3 for 24, but only Kohli can answer why Washington didn’t complete his quota.

Williamson tucks into a buffet

Sunrisers imploded, looking for one big shot after another. But not Kane Williamson.

He batted like a man who waited for the breakfast counter to open and then helped himself to an as-you-wish buffet.

With Vijay for company, he nudged the ball and milked the singles to keep the scoreboard ticking in a 45-run stand. And once wickets started to fall – Sunrisers were 127 for 5 in the 16th – he decided to cut loose.

Kane Williamson is airborne as he punches one through the off side © BCCI

He was reprieved on 20 – the result of Khejroliya’s generosity when a return catch was put down – and this proved to be the trigger for a sensational assault that concluded with him hammering Umesh for 6,4,6,4 and 2(nb) in the last over as 147 for 7 had turned to 175 in the space of six balls.

Amid the carnage, umpire Nigel Llong made an incorrect no-ball call. The replay of that ball went up on the giant screen, making the mistake known to everyone, but it couldn’t be overturned. Ah, cricket’s tryst with rigidity again. An already irate Kohli then saw the last two balls disappear, and Sunrisers had momentum by their side.

The turnaround

Until Saturday, Hetmyer had faced 26 deliveries across four matches for scores of 1, 9, 5 and 0. He was a big-ticket signing at INR 4.2 crores but he still missed out on selection when RCB fielded just three overseas players in the middle of a mini-revival.

Brought back from cold storage after their experiment with Heirich Klaasen, Hetmyer walloped four fours and eight sixes in his 47-ball 75. Four of those sixes were off Rashid Khan, who was disdainfully slog-swept in a way that has rarely been seen.

Shimron Hetmyer celebrates his half-century © BCCI

When there is no turn, bounce is Rashid’s ally, but by over-doing the googly he became predictable and Hetmyer lined him up beautifully, bringing up his half-century in only 31 balls.

At the other end, Gurkeerat Singh was batting with no-frills and plenty of tact. He rotated strike, ran hard and kept putting the bad balls away to raise only his second half-century in the IPL. Prior to Saturday, his biggest contribution to this tournament was a catch at fine leg off Ross Taylor that went on to become a Youtube classic.

Now, he’d added another bullet point to what he’d hope heralds the start of a new chapter in his career, three years after he first donned the India cap and fell out of favour as quickly as he had risen. (ESPNCricinfo)

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