The Indian Premier League has seen centuries of great impact down the years and Quinton de Kock’s brilliant knock on Sunday could well be the spark that could ignite the campaign of Delhi Daredevils this season.
Chris Gayle’s 175 not out for Royal Challengers Bangalore demolished Pune Warriors in 2013 after Brendon McCullum set the IPL on fire in the inaugural season with an explosive 158 not out for Kolkata Knight Riders against RCB.
De Kock’s 51-ball 108 that laid RCB low at the same Chinnaswamy Stadium could inspire the young Daredevils batsmen in a team that finished seventh in the group stage in 2015 after ending up last in the previous two years.
SECOND YOUNGEST CENTURION
The 23-year-old South African became the youngest to score an IPL century, only behind Manish Pandey’s 118 not out for RCB against Deccan Chargers in 2009 as a 19-year-old.
Brilliant death overs bowling by pacers Mohammed Shami and Chris Morris had helped Daredevils restrict RCB to 191 after Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers had threatened to put up a far bigger total.
With Rahul Dravid as mentor, Delhi have chosen a young squad, which has pitch-forked de Kock into the role of a senior batsman this season. He seems to be relishing that role. The Daredevils wicketkeeper had hit 59 not out in the eight-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab on Friday.
A CLEAN HITTER
De Kock can punish less than top bowling on good pitches --- he struck three ODI centuries in a row against India in 2013 --- and success in the high-profile IPL will only raise his stature back home as he searches for a regular Test spot.
De Kock has been frustrated by few opportunities to play Tests, with injuries not helping his cause. Since his 2014 Test debut, he has played only eight matches, and only three in the last 12 months.
His perceived weakness against spin and South Africa’s quota policies in selection haven’t helped. But choosing Dean Vilas as wicketkeeper ahead of him for last year’s Test series in India was controversial. Vilas averaged less than 10 with the bat.
He returned for the home Test series against England, scoring his maiden century in the third match.
CHASING AND TESTS
His impressive run chase has instantly drawn comparisons with RCB skipper Virat Kohli’s mastery in that department.
“I enjoyed the innings thoroughly. I won’t say this was my best but it was up there, especially chasing down a total like that, I haven’t done it often,” he told the media after the win.
“It was such a great wicket and outfield, all we had to do was hit the gaps. Somehow we batted quicker than we initially wanted to, and we just carried on batting like that,” he said, referring to his 134-run stand with Karun Nair.
“You just had to stand tall and hit through the line. We were very confident as 190 was a par score on this wicket. We thought we were going to chase 250 at one stage.”
But he left no one in doubt in which format mattered most to him. “I’ve played only two Test matches (three) in about a year. I wish I could play more,” he said. In India last year, even two centuries in the ODI series win didn’t help change the mind of the South African selectors.
In his third year with Daredevils, he praised skipper Zaheer Khan’s handling of the pace attack. “Zak’s fields, I don’t know where he gets them from, but it is very interesting and seems to work. Our bowlers love being captained by him.”
RCB were racing away until Mohammed Shami, back from injury, and South African pacer Chris Morris together gave away just 27 runs in the last four overs by bowling short of a length and varying the pace. Inputs from Dravid and Karnataka batsman Karun Nair helped assess the pitch precisely.