Suryakumar Yadav jumped in front of the stump stump just before Joffra Archer delivered the lifter. He is drawn to the badge of his helmet and, in need of medical help, goes down on his escape. After clearing most of the team doctor’s test, Yadav put back his helmet. Archer tries a huge yorker on the next ball, but pulls it down. After jumping to the outside leg, Yadav lowers his arm and pulls an aggressive reverse-scoop on wicketkeeper Jose Butler’s head for six wickets.
That shot sounds easy with the likes of Butler, Abby de Villiers, Niroshan Dickwella and Yadav, but to run it you need a strong base, a steady head, a quick hand and an awkward mind. However, the speed of the Abu Dhabi pitch may have helped Yadav, especially after hitting him in the head, is a tough shot to run against an archer, one of the best white-ball bowlers in the world.
Yadav and Ankit Rajput are in a cat-and-mouse game in the next over, the final over of the Mumbai Indians’ innings. The Rajput knows that if Yadav misses Yerker, he will scoop him up on short short legs. The seamer misses the yorker and pushes the full-tussle wider than the set of outside stumps. Yadav moves forward when he gets the ball, but is adjusted enough to lift the ball over a short fine leg.
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Rajasthan Royals initially reserved two overs of archer for death against Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya – but without Pollard’s batting, Yadav dismissed Hardik in a six-over-run innings to give Mumbai Indians a 1el to run lead. Yadav is no stranger. Completing the IPL innings – he was hired for the role when he was with the Kolkata Knight Riders – but Yadav is the anchor in the Mumbai Indians’ six-hit line.
The role of T20 anchors has been in focus recently, with some of the top-ranked players falling below 120 in this IPL and failing to move. For instance, Kings XI Punjab captain KL Rahul was 46 off 44 balls in the 14th over against Chennai Super Kings on Monday, but was dismissed for 63 off off. Super Kings’ M Vijay and Kedar Jadhav have also been very tight in this IPL.
After a quick opening stand by his captain Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kok, Yadav was equally bullish on the early exchanges. He had just passed 20 twice in five innings this season before Mars, so he took his time to deal with the situation. However, after scoring 12 off 11 balls, he struck a stroke in his wide range, making sure Mumbai’s run-rate hovered around 8 .. around 20 in the middle overs, before dying out.
Yadav used the extra speed of debutant Karthik Tyagi to his advantage and manipulated him with fours on both sides of the third man. Tyagi’s short delivery early in the ninth over was not particularly bad – he bounced off De Kok and Sharma had already drawn the top hook – but Yadav’s soft wrist and pinpoint placement made it look bad. Then, against legspinner Shreyas Gopal, he set a longer length to face the break and even though he didn’t take many risks, he did get 17 off nine balls from him. His confident move against the spin gave his match-winning half-century against the Super Kings a throwback in the first qualifier on the turning track in Chepauk last year.
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In the slog over, he brought out more inventive sweeps, scoops and ramps for Archer, Tom Curran and Rajput to throw their lines and lengths. While others expected Pollard to end the innings by throwing a ‘V’ in front of the stumps, Yadav dropped a ‘V’ behind him. Seventy of his 79 runs came in the field between the third man and the fine leg. Only Shabh Pant, during his unbeaten 128 against Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2018, scored a further 42 runs in that area in the IPL innings.
At the innings break, Hardik said he had “no words to describe” Yadav’s six-run escape from Archer. Speaking of Yadav, he told Star Sports that he was making his way in the game and was responsible for batting at number one. “The last few games have been the only way out for me personally,” he said. “I just supported myself and tried to bat to the end. I love the extra responsibility given to me right now; there’s not much pressure on me. They [the team management] Just asked me to play my game and express myself and bat as long as I can. “
Yadav looked overwhelmed in the slog overs, but he batted till the end and scored an unbeaten 79 off 47 balls – the highest score in the IPL. Mumbai Indians’ top seven batsmen have scored more than -0 plus this season, while Yadav has remained at the milestone. Butler hit 70 off 44 balls to chase, but Yadav trumped him and put the Mumbai Indians at the top of the points table.
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