Pune Warriors India batsmen Steven Smith and Jesse Ryder celebrate after scoring the winning shot in the IPL Twenty20 cricket match against Chennai Super Kings at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium in Pune. AFP/Indranil Mukherjee
It says a lot about his turmoil that he's come here with a clinical psychologist. These are testing times for Pune Warriors' Kiwi player, Jesse Ryder.
His career has been plagued by controversies, mainly surrounding his issues with alcohol. There was apprehension how he would measure up in the IPL given the incidents of the last few months which had forced the left-handed batsman to take an indefinite break from cricket in early March to resolve personal issues.
His manager Aaron Klee had then issued a statement that the past few weeks in the public eye had taken a toll on Ryder.
The batsman had been rushed back into the New Zealand team for the T20 match against South Africa in Auckland on February 22, scoring 52 off 42 balls in the Black Caps' three-run loss. It was an innings which drew criticism from former international Craig McMillan, who blamed Ryder for allowing his personal interest in trying to reach his half-century to get in the way of the team's cause.
Losing the plot
The frustrating period also included Ryder and Doug Bracewell being dropped from the one-day team after breaking team protocol in Napier by drinking when injured. They also reacted to a verbal taunt from a member of the public at a bar. Ryder had already been told he wasn't required for the Test series due to fitness and form.
Many careers have been ruined by self-indulgence, and those who were present at the IPL game on Saturday, would have hoped Ryder's doesn't end that way.
The left-hander exploded like a dynamite, as if venting his frustrations on the CSK bowlers on Saturday, in the process providing another proof of his abundant talent. Ryder hardly played a false stroke in an innings which should go a long way in restoring his own confidence and that of the world cricket community in him, with an unbeaten 73 off 56 balls.
Interestingly, Ryder was involved in what looked like a heated exchange in the middle with Marlon Samuels.
A couple of balls later, the Jamaican was bowled playing a wild heave.
Ryder, though, found an able ally in Steven Smith, who finished the game in spectacular fashion with a four and six off the first two balls of the final over. For a day, the Puneites forgot all Ryder's drinking problems, as he became the toast of the town.