Two of Parvez Rasool’s first three deliveries in the Indian Premier League had crossed the boundary rope, courtesy Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Gautam Gambhir. That was slightly more than a year ago, the Jammu and Kashmir bowling all-rounder in the colours of Pune Warriors. Mostly blue, the silver lining provided by the prized scalp of Jacques Kallis. Two days and a match later, Rasool was back on the bench.
In the 12 months since then, the bench changed but he remained where he was – rooted to it. The Warriors ceased to exist, but he did not quite fit in Sunrisers Hyderabad’s scheme of things. With two spinners, both leggies, in the side, there was no room for Rasool’s off-breaks. That is, until Tuesday.
Tired of persisting with the expensive Amit Mishra, and with three of Royal Challengers Bangalore’s top four being left-handers, Rasool finally got his chance.
Except, it was trial by fire. As if Royal Challengers skipper Virat Kohli’s presence at the non-striker’s end wasn’t unsettling enough, taking guard was Chris Gayle, not in the best form but always a threat, especially to greenhorns.
Up to the task
It didn’t long for Gayle to try and go after Rasool – the big Jamaican spent one delivery sizing up the young offie. But then, the adversary had done his homework. So when the charge was given, a quicker delivery was duly fired in; and when Gayle moved away to the leg side, Rasool chased him. While he didn’t get the wicket, Rasool did get the last laugh – holding on to the thick outside edge off the first ball of leg-spinner Karn Sharma’s spell at short third man.
By the time Rasool returned for his second spell, Virat and Yuvraj Singh were well set and threatening to take the young tweakers to school. Contrary to conventional wisdom, it was the left-hander who dug into the finger-spinner, sweeping fine when followed down leg, and benefiting from Dale Steyn not being able to pull off a Chris Lynn or a Kieron Pollard at long-on. This time, though, Rasool did get the last laugh – when Yuvraj tried a repeat without leaving his crease, the ball went straight into Steyn’s palms.
With Virat, who scored his first fifty of the season, taking a liking to Karn and Sunrisers skipper Darren Sammy committing the blunder of giving himself the 16th over, Royal Challengers reached 160, a competitive total given that ominous clouds were hovering over Uppal for a while.
Little wonder, then, that the hosts chose to play safe while chasing, keeping wickets in hand to stay ahead of the Duckworth/Lewis asking rate at all times while keeping pace with the required rate.
Shikhar Dhawan fell after completing his half-century and putting on 100 runs with David Warner, who was opening in place of Aaron Finch.
Warner was somehow to blame for the brief hiccup that followed his departure – he took out Abu Nechim with a straight hit, and Yuvraj, who stepped in to complete the medium-pacer’s quota, bowled a tight 18th over to make things interesting.
But skipper Sammy came to the rescue of the Sunrisers, who have kept alive their purely mathematical chance of reaching the playoffs.