Rahul Tewatia would never want to forget the last night. On his very first IPL game for Kings XI Punjab, he played a match-winning role for the team. (IPL 2017 FULL COVERAGE)
While his team was defending only a moderate total, Kolkata Knight Riders looked on course before Tewatia struck. Not once but twice in the same over and the moment the leg spinner had taken out Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa, KXIP knew they could force a comeback win. And they did.
He made his presence felt on his debut for Kings XI Punjab with his twin strike, backed by economical bowling, which became the turning point of the match against the fancied Kolkata Knight Riders in Mohali on Tuesday.
Tewatia bowled his four overs with the right intent and grabbed the wickets of Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa. Two wickets in the four overs and giving away merely 18 runs meant he was the star of their win.
Coach Virender Sehwag was the most thrilled with Tewatia’s performance and had this to say to the bowler, “Chaa gaya ladke, aise hee khelta reh. Yahi chaiye tujhse. Aaj khela tu apna game aur jeetaya” (You rocked with your performance today. Keep playing like this. This is what is required from you. Today you played your natural game and won the match for the team).
“Viru Bhaiya is my mentor and also a role model. His appreciation means a lot to me. I was anticipating getting a game a long before. He knew I was getting desperate to make a mark. I am happy to have bowled to the plan and yielded results.
After the powerplay, Viru Bhaiya and Glenn Maxwell wanted me to bowl a tight line and length and aim for wickets. Chris Lynn was plundering runs from all corners. Once Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa were back to the pavilion, we exerted pressure tactics,” said Tewatia, who hails from Faridabad in Haryana.
Tewatia’s 8-ball cameo of 15 runs while batting also propelled Kings XI Punjab to a total of 167 runs. He gave away four runs in his first over and removed Gambhir and Uthappa in the second (10th over of the match). Having played five first-class matches, six List A and nine T20 matches for Haryana, Tewatia was in the good books of Sehwag.
In fact, it was on his recommendation that the leggie was drafted into the Kings XI Punjab team this season. Earlier, he had played of Rajasthan Royals in the 2014 and 2015 IPL editions. “Rahul has turned into a useful all-rounder in the last couple of years. He did well for Haryana in the Last Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy in both the departments. Viru bhaiya likes him a lot as a cricketer. I’m sure, Rahul made him proud with his performance. He has spent quality time with Viru Bhaiya and picked a lot from him,” said a Haryana Cricket Association official.
Man of the match Mohit Sharma also reckoned that Tewatia’s spell turned the match in Kings XI Punjab’s favour. He said, “The way our spinners bowled in the middle was commendable. This was the first match of the season for Rahul Tewatia and he hasn’t played too many other IPL games, overall either. His spell was the turning point of the match. Chris Lynn was on the rampage, Rahul’s bowling halted the run flow and got two crucial wickets.”
Having learnt the nuances of spin bowling from former India spinner Narendra Hirwani at Lahli during Haryana camps, Tewatia wants to continue with the form and help Kings XI Punjab qualify for the play-offs.
“Our next game is against Mumbai Indians. They are a tough team. Hopefully, I get an outing in the match and come up with even a better performance both with the bat and the ball,” said Tewatia, who has helped script wins for Haryana in the ODIs and T20s with his all-round skills in the recent seasons.