Friday, January 24, 2020

Shreyas Iyer enraptures ! ~ story of a debutant Hamish Bennet


Long ago when he was on screen, (at a time when Rohit Sharma was getting out regularly for low scores) – Sunil Gavaskar remarked ‘you are seeing the future of India’ – similar tone is being spoken of about Shreyas Iyer and if we had wondered what the hype is all about – today, he was the player of the match with a classy innings.

Is Cricket a game between Bowlers and Batsmen or .. .. a couple of decades ago, in 50 overs limited Cricket, score of 240 close to 5 runs per over was considered imposing total and scores of 260+ were potential match winners – no longer.  Now in T20, what is a winning total ? is becoming a moot Q !! – Today in T20 n0. 1031, a whopping 407 runs were scored at Auckland in 40 overs.  A nightmare for the bowlers  - Mohammad Shami with figures of 4-0-53-0 & Santner 4-0-50-1 would vouch for.

~ and there was a debutant whose 4 overs cost 36 runs without a wicket – a man who had last played for NZ in 2017.  He has played only one test and 16 ODIs thus far.  Hamish Bennett is currently joint-third highest wicket-taker in this season's T20 Super Smash, with 14 wickets at an average of 18.42 and an economy rate of 7.06.  one can pity him for he made his test debut at Ahmedabad way back in 2010.  His co-debutant has meantime played  78 tests (6379 runs); 149 ODIs (6132 runs) and 58 T20I (1556 runs) and captained New Zealand too.

At Auckland at half-way today, NZ for sure would have fancied their chances setting up a target of 204 – never they would have imagined that this would be eclipsed with 6 wickets at hand and an over to spare. Score card would read : India 204 for 4 (Iyer 58*, Rahul 56, Kohli 45, Sodhi 2-36) beat New Zealand203 for 5 (Munro 59, Taylor 54, Williamson 51, Jadeja 1-18) by six wickets

The last time India and New Zealand met, in the World Cup semi-final last year, Martin Guptill pulled off a memorable direct hit to run MS Dhoni out and seal India's fate. Today it was walk-in the-park for India. Shreyas Iyer finished the chase with a classy innings, hitting all bowlers for 58* off mere 29 balls with 3 hits over the boundary.  When Iyer had joined Manish Pandey, who had been picked ahead of  Rishabh Pant, India still needed 62 off 40 balls. Iyer took charge, making 48 in the unbroken stand with Pandey, and pressed on to a 26-ball half-century, thrilling the sea of blue in the stands.
For Kiwis who had been asked to bat earlier in the evening, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor reeled off quicker fifties - off 25 balls each - and Colin Munro hit a relatively sedate half-century. When India batted, KL Rahul got a 27-ball 56 and Kohli made 45 – yet it was Shreyas who stole the show.  

Not many would remember that Test no. 1974 in Nov 2010 at Ahmedabad – Harbhajan & Hamish Bennet for different reasons though ! – in that drawn test, Harbhajan Singh realised every bowler's dream of making a Test hundred to steer India to safety on the final day of the first Test.  He had a  163-run partnership with VVS Laxman. Hamish Bennett made his Test debut along with Kane Williamson in that Test.  While it remains his only test, Kane grew in great stature.   Hamish  bolted into New Zealand's World Cup squad the next year and later, in 2014, he bowled a remarkable spell of pace bowling to  Virat Kohli.    Hamish  played for the Under-19 side, he was handed his first call-up in 2010 - taking three wickets on his ODI debut against Bangladesh - and made his Test debut against India. While Williamson scored a century in Ahmedabad, Bennett bowled 15 wicketless overs before picking up a groin strain.

The game is tough on some – nowadays, more so on the hapless bowlers, who are hit all over the park – today’s 40 overs ending up 407 runs.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
24.1.2020

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