Sunday, 20 December 2015

How T20 can turn on one delivery

I was up early and tuned in to watch a bit of the T20 game from Australia, between the Sydney Thunder and the Melbourne Stars.

I ended up watching the whole of what was a superb game of cricket.

The first innings contained a batting masterclass by Usman Khawaja, who made a dazzling century that almost single-handed carried his side to a competitive total. He made an unbeaten 109 from 178-6 and played the kind of innings I didn't think he had in him for the format. There were all the shots, great timing, fine placement and even three sixes, as he looked a very fine player.

The only real support he got came from West Indian Andre Russell, who then bowled seriously quickly in the home side's reply. Yet a brilliant innings from Kevin Pietersen, in which he made 76 from 42 balls, turned the game on its head and the Melbourne side needed only 15 from the last two overs with Pietersen and James Faulkner going strong.

Yet one moment of over ambition from the former England man saw him play a shot no longer necessary, to hole out at fine leg. Jacques Kallis, still a fine cricketer at forty, was too canny in the last over and Sydney ended up winning by one run.

It was brilliant to watch and a fine example of how even the very best can panic when pressure is being applied towards the end of the game. It was the sort of position where we criticised our young players for losing last season, yet two experienced professionals couldn't carry their team home in a fine advert for the game.

All of which goes to show that it is much easier to call the tactics from the boundary edge and your armchair, than when you are facing two clever bowlers at the death. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but these situations call for clear heads and it turned out to be the veteran Kallis' day.

At forty Kallis still looks a class act and was capable of a near-ninety mph ball to keep batsmen guessing, as well as mixing up a full range of other balls. A player like Kallis (I can dream...) would be perfect as our overseas, though Russell, a fine athlete who contributes fully in this form, will be surely picked up by someone for the coming summer.

Over in New Zealand, Neil Broom made 85 in a losing cause for Otago, who were bowled out by the talented Jeetan Patel. Hamish Rutherford, skippering the side, is short of runs at present, but will doubtless be back in the runs in the near future.

Have a good Sunday!

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