We witnessed one of the all-time great IPL matches yesterday, and so much occurred over the course of 4 hours that it was hard to completely process everything. A total of five fifties were scored in the match, but glancing at the scorecard, two knocks that stand out are Mayank Agarwal and a superlative maiden IPL century and Sanju Samson’s spectacular 85.
Both knocks may have come at the same venue on the same day, but were still in very different conditions. Agarwal’s ton came while setting a total in the first innings. He had his opening partner and captain KL Rahul batting along with him throughout his innings, and still had the likes of Glenn Maxwell, Nicholas Pooran, Karun Nair and Sarfaraz Khan in the dugout. Mayank just waited for the ball to come in his zone, and swung through the line.
Samson’s 2nd consecutive fifty this season came while chasing 224. By the time he walked out to bat at 19-1 in the third over, the required run-rate was already above 11 an over. Although he was batting with his captain as well, the batsmen left to follow didn’t inspire much confidence. Despite what unfurled later on, Uthappa-Tewatia-Parag-Curran-Archer is not the middle-order you would wish to possess chasing a 220+ total.
In his partnership with Steven Smith, he scored 41 in 20 balls, while Smith scored 38 in the same number of deliveries. While batting with Tewatia, who contributed 14 in 21, Samson struck at two runs-a-ball, scoring 44 in 22 balls. Whilst Smith provided runs from his side in their 81-run stand, Tewatia scored at just 4 an over, and the fact that Samson managed to motor on at 12 runs per over is even more admirable, considering the mounting pressure.
Both young players took advantage of the wayward lines and lengths offered to them. Mayank faced 26 balls targeted outside off-stump and scored 56 runs off those deliveries, while Samson faced 20 balls that accounted for 38 of his runs. Both players were also especially unforgiving of wide lines, striking at 200+ in those balls
The highlight of these knocks, was the way these young lads treated even good-length balls with utter disdain. While all other batsmen struck at just 110 against these balls in the match, Agarwal hit 40 runs off 22 good-length balls while Samson took it up a notch, scoring 49 of his runs from just 25 such balls. Back-of-a-length, half-vollies; expectedly, none of these bothered the batsmen at all, who put them away with ease.
Although the bouncer accounted for Samson’s wicket later, not a single such legal ball was bowled to Agarwal, which in hindsight, seems a questionable decision. Yorkers as well were rarely bowled to them, which was another strange plan. Another aspect of their hitting prowess was shown in the way they utilized the straight loft yesterday. Mayank Agarwal and Sanju Samson both scored 40+ runs playing in the “V” yesterday, i.e, the portion of the ground between long-on and long-off.
After oozing so much talent yet flattering to deceive over the past couple of years, it’s so heartening for Indians to see the pair of Mayank Agarwal and Sanju Samson finally stepping up and giving their best. For two teams who have kept faith in them for the past two years, it should come as a relief that their domestic talent is finally firing. We can only hope that these players make the most of their form and continue performing throughout the rest of the IPL.