A hug that raises the stakes for Hetmyer

If ever IPL franchises needed a timely reminder of Hetmyer’s talent, the Guyanese batsman produced another fine audition for them on Indian soil. The performance leaves the 22-year-old in a great position to walk away as one of the big talking points at the auction in Kolkata on Thursday.
Shimron Hetmyer celebrates his century during the first ODI between India and West Indies, at MAC Stadium in Chennai.(PTI)
Shimron Hetmyer celebrates his century during the first ODI between India and West Indies, at MAC Stadium in Chennai.(PTI)
Updated on Dec 19, 2019 08:16 AM IST
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As he lined up to shake hands with the Indian players after smashing a career-best 139 to make the Chennai ODI a no contest for the West Indies, Shimron Hetmyer received a warm hug from Virat Kohli. It is said that Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp uses his post-game hugs wisely—reserved only for his best players on the day—and it remains to be seen if the India skipper's gesture meant anything on the same lines, given that the IPL player auction was in everyone’s sights.

If ever IPL franchises needed a timely reminder of Hetmyer’s talent, the Guyanese batsman produced another fine audition for them on Indian soil. The performance leaves the 22-year-old in a great position to walk away as one of the big talking points at the auction in Kolkata on Thursday.

A T20 strike-rate of 132.94, which only marginally dips in One-day Internationals (125.11) and a modest reserve price of ~50 lakh makes the left-handed batsman a great buy. That will be a perfect birthday gift for him, as Hetmyer turns 23 on Boxing Day.

Hetmyer is a familiar face in India and much-loved for his big hits, the latest enforcer from the West Indies. Last year, his 259 runs from five ODIs in India forced Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore to cough up ~4.2 crore for him.

He got to play only five games for RCB, but in one of them he showed just how explosive he could be: a blistering 47-ball 75 helped his team upstage Sunrisers Hyderabad.

The recent Kohli hug comes from a place of familiarity, of course, but it could also be an indication that the Bengaluru franchise, which had released the Caribbean batsman, will once again aim to go after him at the auction, albeit at a lower price.

There is no doubt Hetmyer will trigger a healthy bidding contest on Thursday. However, being a middle-order batsman, teams looking to bolster that department—either weak ones or those in need of back-ups—will chase him. Teams are allowed only eight foreigners and a full complement of 25, and Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians and Sunrisers Hyderabad have only two slots free for overseas players.

With middle-order batsmen Karun Nair, Nicholas Pooran and Chris Gayle available, it remains to be seen if Kings XI Punjab are interested as well. Rajasthan Royals, after Ajinkya Rahane’s departure, may test the waters but Hetmyer could well be headed back to RCB, though the ‘Right to Match’ provision to buy back players that have been let go is not available this time.

Kolkata Knight Riders too can join in, if they see Hetmyer as a handy standby for finisher Andre Russell.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2022