Dubai: When the Indian Premier League (IPL) got shifted overseas to the UAE, I was asked in a panel discussion if Kolkata Knight Riders’ decision to invest so much after their fast bowlers would be counterproductive on the slow wickets here. Lockie Ferguson, the New Zealander speedster with a retro moustache, showed that there is always a room for thinking bowlers even in T20 cricket.
It was a Super Saturday in IPL in more more ways than one, which saw a collage of memorable performances in both the games - but Ferguson’s performance stood out for the way he brought a X-factor into the Knights’ attack and swung the match their way with five wickets in all. One does not know if his debut for KKR was a throw of the dice by the team management as Sunil Narine was still possibly short on confidence despite his action being cleared, but Ferguson has now clearly made a case for himself to play ahead of Pat Cummins in the sluggish wickets here.
Just ponder over his wickets against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Abu Dhabi - each of the three wickets in the regular course of play had the hallmark of being well planned and executed. Running into his New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, Ferguson dug it in short and wide outside the offstump to tempt the former whose upper cut ended in the hands of the thirdman. The next victim was young Priyam Garg when a slower delivery rammed into his stumps.
The third one was a searing yorker at 148 kmph which knocked off the experienced Manish Pandey’s stumps. He ended with figures of 4-0-15-3, no boundaries conceded, and then came back in the Super Over to swing the match in his team’s direction. In the space of three balls, he first removed David Warner’s off stump and then hit the base of Abdul Samad’s middle stump with a full and slower delivery.
In the post-match presentation, Ferguson revealed it was Warner’s wicket in the Super Over which gave him ‘most satisfaction’ and it was understandable. The way he mixed up things on Sunday afternoon was simply extraordinary, while a close win as this will go a long way to lift the spirits in the Knights camp - which saw a mid-season change of captaincy only last Friday.
Post Script: A word of appreciation for the way Dinesh Karthik managed his emotions after ‘handing’ over the captaincy to Eoin Morgan over the last two games. He definitely looks a relieved man, back to his chirpy self behind the stumps - and it was heartening to see the captain and the erstwhile captain walk out together bat during the Super Over.
Well done, DK!