Making sense of the greatest 3-ball innings in T20 history
Maybe next time, Rahul Tewatia should be left with 36 to get off one over to win a game. He’s already hit five sixes in an over, in that match that nobody will ever forget. Now he’s hit two sixes off the last two balls of a match when 12 were needed to win. Hit sixes to turn impossible situations into wins? Easy peasy. Only if you’re Rahul Tewatia of course.
Consider the situation. Tewatia had walked out with just five balls remaining in the game, off which Gujarat Titans needed 18 to win. More than that, he had come in to replace Hardik Pandya – captain fantastic, destructive hitter supreme – who was run out of all things when he was going well. Tewatia would face three of those five balls. Three balls were enough for him to construct an epic.
Given room outside off stump and slashed to deep point. Good connection, but straight to the fielder. ‘Oh well, it’s unrealistic to expect him to tee off first ball, at least he made good connection,’ you would have felt. But all the while knowing that taking only one run when 18 were needed off five balls meant an impossible task just got harder.
Tewatia is back on strike due to an overthrow. Academically, the overthrow means the Titans have a shot at victory with 12 needed off two balls. But who on earth hits two sixes to win a game? Sure, MS Dhoni had done it, back when he was playing for Rising Pune Supergiants, but that was near the end of the league phase, when qualification was already out of reach. There was less at stake. Plus, that was MS Dhoni. He does things mortals don’t.
And then out came a golf-club swing at a full ball that was in the perfect zone for Tewatia. On the stumps, the bat swing meeting the ball at the sweet spot. He didn’t, in fact, connect perfectly, but when Tewatia swings, a less-than-perfect connection is also enough to send the ball over the boundary. In this case, just about eluding a fielder diving over the rope to vainly try and stop it.
“Okay, that’s a good hit, but you need to be Miracle Man to pull it off again,” you thought.
The smarts. The Rahul Tewatia cricketing smarts. You can train for moments like these, you can absorb wisdom from peers and coaches. But when you’re out there in the middle, it’s you against the bowler, with only a split second to make a decision. Tewatia made his decision. He remembered the first ball, the one that was slashed to deep point, and calculated that Odean Smith would try the wide line again. Even while Smith was entering his delivery stride, Tewatia had moved across his stumps. Way across. He couldn’t have calculated it better if the bowler’s intent had been telegraphed to him. Smith went wide, Tewatia went bang. Miracle complete.
Three balls from Tewatia and the Titans were surging to the top of the table, the only team with a spotless win-record in IPL 2022.
And he did it all on instinct almost, without thinking too much about it.
“There was nothing to think, really,” Tewatia would tell Star Sports after the match. “You just had to go out there and hit sixes. That’s what me and David (Miller) were talking, that if anything happens, we have to hit sixes. I planned something against Odean Smith, and executed it.
“The first ball he bowled to me was that wide outside off stump, so I thought maybe last ball, he’s going to bowl to me there only. So I pre-planned that shot, because there was nothing to do – I just had to hit a six off that ball. So I planned that, and it executed well.”
The Sharjah Smash now has a sequel with the Brabourne Bash. And we know what happens when sequels become blockbusters, don’t we? We get more of them. Lots more. Prepare for further chapters in Rahul Tewatia’s Miracle Chronicles.