India’s Next Generation Steal The Show In Abu Dhabi Run-fest

Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - India's next generation steal the show in Abu Dhabi run-fest. Ruturaj Gaikwad managed to score his maiden IPL ton on Saturday.

India’s Next Generation Steal The Show In Abu Dhabi Run-festRuturaj Gaikwad managed to score his maiden IPL ton on Saturday.

Five runs were needed for Ruturaj Gaikwad's maiden century at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Ravindra Jadeja had tonked the first two balls of the final over for a four and six. The next legal ball was heaved over midwicket after a wide from Mustafizur Rahman. All this while Gaikwad remained at the non-striker's end, watching, stuck on 95, raising suspicion if he'd been denied his maiden ton. With three balls to go, Jadeja took the single. Gaikwad looked to slog sweep a short one but it yielded no runs. He still needed five runs off the final ball. The ball was short, and as soon as bat touched it, the melody was too sweet to snub. It was the shorter boundary on the leg side and Gaikwad knew it would clear the deep midwicket boundary as he raised his arms in mild celebration, with a grin that you couldn't wipe off his face.

It was poetic justice that the innings ended with Gaikwad's six. Chennai Super Kings as a result, ended their innings with 189 – their highest total in the UAE leg this season – with the youngster unbeaten on 101 off 60. He read the conditions perfectly from the onset and played proper cricketing shots. His timing was flawless and he played to his strengths. The wicket was holding initially but RR's pacers were on point, bowling the cutters and varying the pace to keep the flow of runs in check. That Gaikwad's game against spin had improved markedly was on full range of display as he accelerated gradually and upped the pace of CSK's innings. He read and used their lengths better, getting his feet into action and scored in the areas of his favoured offside.

CSK were 83 for 2 at the end of the 12th over and were looking at a total of around 160. However, the next eight overs saw a different nuance to Gaikwad's innings. He brought once again his middle-overs game to the fore and accelerated. He averages 37.67 between overs 7 and 15, striking at 155.86 with 226 runs in eight innings. After having been 50 off 43 balls, his next 51 came off just 17 balls as he toyed with RR's bowlers and struck heavy blows to their confidence. He finished with five sixes and nine fours, although it wasn't an innings packed all with brute strength; rather a magnum opus he painted with class and traditional batting. With 73 coming off the last five overs, it was CSK's game to win.

If Gaikwad's innings was a masterclass, RR's batters orchestrated a stunning, unexpected counterattack to snap out of their losing streak. An initial required rate of 9.50 could've overawed any opening pair even on a wicket that got better as the game progressed. If it did, Yashasvi Jaiswal nor Evin Lewis showed even a glimpse of it as the pair once again gave RR the perfect start. Jaiswal, who was handed a reprieve on 2 by Ambati Rayudu, ensured CSK paid the price, racing away to a record 19-ball 50.

The onslaught began from the second over with Jaiswal exquisitely timing the ball as Josh Hazlewood erred in his lengths. He should've bowled on a length, but was a fraction short and was punished by Jaiswal. He let loose from one end with Evin Lewis attacking from the other as they picked Hazlewood's lengths early dealing primarily in boundaries. Hazlewood conceded 16 in his first over, but it got worse for him; three sixes and a four in a 22-run over had RR with 75 on the board after 5 overs. Jaiswal became the second-fastest to a fifty in the IPL by an uncapped Indian player, after which, both openers fell in successive overs. However, they'd done their job as RR notched their highest powerplay score of 81.

RR had made a massive overhaul to their side for this game with as many as five changes; the misfiring middle order was given a facelift with Shivam Dube, David Miller and Glenn Phillips coming in. It paid dividends almost instantly in a tall chase. It was a different approach from RR too. They promoted Dube up to No.4 and while the lanky all-rounder continued to attack from the onset, Samson took the backseat and was happy to let the youngster express himself. Dube had struggled in the first-half of the tournament, and didn't find a place on resumption. He had last played a game in April this year, but in the months in between the two halves of the IPL, he worked on his game and was backed to the hilt by Kumar Sangakkara, who believed in his ability and potential. When he was finally given a go in a must-win game for RR, he didn't disappoint.

Dube carried on the momentum from the opening stand, striking a magnificent maiden IPL half-century – unbeaten on 64 off 42 – targeting the square leg boundary region and down the ground on the offside. His strikes ponged of brute strength as he attacked the CSK spinners, forcing MS Dhoni to bring back his pacers. In stark contrast to the knocks Samson has been forced to play, he gave Dube majority of the strike in their 89-run stand. He guided Dube through his innings, falling eventually for a sedate 24-ball 28, but with the finish line in sight.

After RR's last loss to RCB, Sangakkara had said: “We haven't been able to tie a full game together yet. We've been good with our batting at times, good with bowling, but haven't been able to put up a cohesive performance. That's what we're searching for.” Although this performance may not have fulfilled that desire, it could be the closest RR have come to the perfect batting outing. The dream start was complemented by some astute batting and a sensible approach. It's taken some time to come, but couldn't have at a better time with every game a must-win. RR's seven-wicket win ties them with three others and keeps them alive in the middle muddle.

The result of this game notwithstanding, it was a day that belonged to next generation of Indian batsmen. Gaikwad, Jaiswal and Dube played distinct knocks, but their fearlessness and zing shone through loud enough in unison to silence doubts, if any, of their ability and skill.

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