‘It was good fun’. The sentence coming from Pat Cummins in his video chat with team-mate Venkatesh Iyer after the completion of Kolkata Knight Riders match against Mumbai Indians summed up his Wednesday night.
In a match where every batter was asked tough questions and Kolkata had entered the tense phase in their chase of 162, Cummins breezed his way to the joint-fastest fifty in the history of IPL and unleashed a carnage which no one saw coming, including Mumbai.
When Cummins walked in to bat ahead of Sunil Narine and after the fall of Andre Russell, nobody had the slightest of idea that the match would change dramatically. Kolkata needed 61 off 41 balls and Iyer was at the crease, holding one end firm. Enter Cummins, playing his first IPL 2022 match after captaining Australia to 1-0 series win over Pakistan and three days of quarantine.
With his right-arm pace, Cummins scalped two wickets but conceded 49 runs, 23 of which came in Mumbai’s final over. With the bat, he was off the mark straightaway with a single punched through mid-off. On his second ball, he smashed Tymal Mills over deep backward square leg fence for first of his six maximums in the night. He followed it up by opening the face of the bat late to send the ball in the gap between backward point and short third man for four.
Enter Jasprit Bumrah, one of the best in the final five overs business in T20 cricket, also someone who was taken for four sixes by Cummins two IPL seasons ago. Cummins swatted his fifth ball for a clean hit over long-on followed by squeezing a boundary off a Bumrah wide yorker past a diving short third man.
With Cummins getting an early flourish, there were jitters around whether Kolkata would go all the way home or not. But Cummins, up against his Australia team-mate, left-arm pacer Daniel Sams, blew all those doubts away in whirlwind fashion.
“I was trying to hit big sixes, trying to think really clearly: If it’s in my area, I am going to go for it, if it’s not in my area, I’ll just try and take a single,” was the clear-cut explanation if needed from Cummins over how he stunned Sams, Mumbai and people watching the match in the world. When a batter is in full cry mode, no one can stop the onslaught, leaving the bowler with limited options to surprise the batter with.
A straight six over long-on marked the start of the Cummins carnage. Sams tried for a yorker but it turned into a full toss and Cummins heaved over wide of long-on. Sams went for the slower one but Cummins whacked over deep square leg for another maximum. A change to short ball didn’t work wonders for Sams as the ball was pulled by Cummins over fine leg.
Here, Mumbai captain Rohit Sharma gets into shock while the crowd at MCA Pune start to get overly excited. A high full toss resulted in a no ball though long-off caught it brilliantly and the free hit was pulled to the deep square leg fence as Cummins reached his half-century off 14 balls, standing equal with KL Rahul for fastest IPL fifty.
Cummins then signed off from the carnage, unconquered at 56 off 15 balls with a jaw-dropping strike-rate of 373.33 by dispatching the last ball of the 16th over for a six over the sight screen. His sixth maximum of the night sealed an improbable Kolkata win which looked distant when the Australia Test captain came at the crease.