For every story of youngsters eager to learn the reverse-sweep before the straight drive as they dream of Indian Premier League glory, there is a band that doesn’t ignore first-class cricket. While T20 demands specialists, red-ball cricket helps hone patience, maturity and slowly polish skills.
Rahul Tripathi’s eight-year first-class career for Maharashtra reveals more grit, underlining the value of domestic cricket. A horde of younger players may eye India berths, but like Royals’ Rahul Tewatia, it has to be about delivering when opportunity comes.
His hard-hitting drew attention in IPL since his 2017 debut, but two modest seasons for Rajasthan Royals saw him traded to KKR. The former champions to shed a habit on Wednesday—Sunil Narine was finally dropped as pinch-hitting opener after 27 runs in four games—promoting Tripathi for the first time.
Ravindra Jadeja didn’t bowl, so good were the other Chennai Super Kings bowlers after KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik chose to bat on a sporting Abu Dhabi pitch. Jadeja was still the danger man, almost running out Tripathi thrice early on before a stunning effort in a relay catch.
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KKR were glad Tripathi dug in, top-scoring with 81 (51b, 8×4, 3×6) to take the team to 167 all out, clinching a 10-run win. The other batsmen failed as CSK bowlers varied pace and bowled just short of length, pegging them back. It was a ploy bowlers from both sides adopted, and as the pitch slowed down further, KKR cashed in.
Former champions CSK had won only two in five games. Chasing targets though is their forte, and they did that in all those games too. Shane Watson, who shone in the 10-wicket win over KXIP, hit a 40-ball 50 but skipper MS Dhoni, at No.4, fell cheaply as KKR bowlers reined it in. Left to get 26 off the last over, Russell tied down Kedar Jadhav to one run off three deliveries, leaving Jadeja’s 6,4, 4 in vain.
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The pitch demanded the classy Shubman Gill’s orthodox approach. The KKR opener though nicked one of two Shardul Thakur cross-seam deliveries that drew worked. The other was big-hitting Andre Russell. His dismissal sucked the life out of KKR’s late-hitting. Russell has dominated Dwayne Bravo, who could avoid him. Only 27 runs came in the last 19 deliveries.
MS Dhoni dropped Piyush Chawla, picking fellow leg-spinner Karn Sharma for his first game of IPL 2020. Sharma denied batsmen freedom with length and pace variations. Bravo, who turned 37 on Wednesday, then showed why CSK bank on ageing stars with 3/37, including two wickets in a five-run final over.