IPL 2022 – Q2 – RCB vs RR
6, 6, 6.
Three days later, Prasidh plays against Virat Kohli in Round 2 of Qualifier 2. He has already played three balls, all fast – 140, 141 and 147 km/h – and with varying degrees of momentum.
He sends the fourth ball and his effort to hit the pitch as hard as possible knocks him off his feet as he releases the ball. Like his height, build and pace, this oddity in his action is reminiscent of Ishant Sharma, the man he was tipped to take over in India’s Test match attack.
And the effort causes the ball, landing just short of a length in the fifth stump channel, to drift away from the field. Kohli goes after him and takes himself off.
This type of rebound, from this type of length, is Prasidh’s greatest strength. This ground in Ahmedabad is designed to maximize the threat of this type of ball. And this type of ball, behaving this way, is among Kohli’s least favorite to face, especially early in his innings.
The perfect plan, executed by the perfect man for the job.
When Prasidh starts Round 19 for Royal Challengers Bangalore, they are 146 to 6. Rajasthan Royals bowlers have had a great game so far but Dinesh Karthik is at the crease, looking to spoil their good work in the next 12 balls.
Prasidh starts the end with an economic fatality rate of 11.37 for the season. Of all the bowlers to have exceeded 11 in this phase, he is the only one to have thrown more than 100 balls. The others either didn’t play often enough or played more of their overs in phases that suited them better. Prasidh, playing for a team with no endgame options, has no choice but to go bowling at the moment.
And it’s only been three days since he ran into Miller.
His first ball is wide from the stump and on the fuller side by a good length. It’s wide enough for Karthik to reach the ball even though he’s taken a big step forward on his stumps, and it’s full enough that he looks like he’s kicking it on the ground, but it’s not so full that it is a simple task. And the ball behaves in an unusual way. It spins at 144 km/h, but it comes out with the seam scrambled, and it bites into the terrain and stops on Karthik. He made his shot early and caught it with the tip of his bat. Instead of clearing for a long time, the ball falls gently into the hands of the defender.
Did this wicket happen by accident or on purpose? Prasidh probably didn’t intend for the ball to land on Karthik, but the wide line seemed like a good idea for two reasons. He made it harder for Karthik to get to the smaller square boundary, which was on the leg side, and the Royals may have made a point of trying to deny access on Karthik’s leg side. anyway – shortly after the wicket fell, Shiva Jayaraman of ESPNcricinfo’s stats team noted that Karthik’s leg-side strike rate of 291.52 in IPL 2022 was the highest of any batter in all season.
It’s possible, of course, that the wicket is just the kind of chance event that always swims in the bouillabaisse of chance that is T20, but sometimes a bowler deserves a bit of luck.
Sometimes a bowler deserves to have a new batter to bowl – hello, Wanindu Hasaranga – so he can throw a yorker at his feet and leave his middle and leg stumps splattered on the floor. Goodbye, Wanindu Hasaranga.
How do you react to experiencing something like this against the Titans? How do you step back from the emotional whirlwind of the moment and examine it in a way that approaches objectivity? How do you find space for learning and growth between beating yourself up for losing your team a winnable game and dismissing what you’ve been through as something that could happen to any bowler in this temperamental and unforgiving format?
According to Royals head coach Kumar Sangakkara, the process begins with the player being honest – with himself and his team.
“Special mention to Prasidh”, he said Featured Sports after the Royals picked up a seven-wicket win over the Royal Challengers and sealed their place in Sunday’s final. “Sixteen to defend in the last game, three sixes from Miller, and that’s a huge dent in your confidence with just days to turn things around, and the way he’s responded to training, the way he’s been honest with me and the rest of the band about what he could do better, it was really impressive to see. He’s a very special talent.”
Sangakkara elaborated on this point during his post-match press conference. He suggested that where Prasidh went wrong in the game against the Titans was in a lack of clarity about his plans towards Miller. Look again at those three balls, and it certainly seems to be the case – an imperfectly executed wide yorker, not leaning far enough left-handed; a slower ball offering easy access (in relative terms) on the leg side; then a switch to get around the wicket and a full ball angled into Miller’s arc.
“The only thing you need to understand is if it was an execution error or just a general lack of clarity and awareness,” Sangakkara said. “If it’s just an execution error, it’s very simple to rectify. It’s skill versus skill, bowler versus batter, you’re trying to execute the best ball, on the court you’ve set, the batter passes you, that’s fine, if you miss your mark, you know immediately, well, I threw the right delivery, I just didn’t get it, you go back to your mark, then you go again .
“The real key is having clarity at the top of the mark: number one, the fields you’ve laid out; number two, the batter’s strengths as discussed and the plans you’ve laid out in advance. If nothing has changed with respect to the current match, you are simply trying to revert to planes you control.
“Prasidh is exceptionally gifted. He thinks very deeply and a lot about the way he plays and the game, which is a very good thing, but at the same time to organize your bowling and execution into a manageable form where you try and just focus on the things that you can control, and don’t worry too much about, you know, anything that distracts you.
“The other thing is you just have to be honest and own your skills, and how you apply those skills. And of course there’s the trust, where he knows that if there’s something that myself or the rest of the coaches will contribute to him, it’s always with the idea of making him better and making him even more special than he already is.
“It all works together like a combination, but the character he showed, one day to topple a very tough performance in the last game, and he just showed he has what it takes to succeed at any what level.”
The challenge that Prasidh faced in Ahmedabad on May 27 was not the same that he faced in Kolkata on May 24. in the game – on a pitch designed for his style of bowling, and by the time he had to play the death, the Royals were already largely in control.
But life doesn’t follow perfectly symmetrical story arcs, and that’s okay. One day in the not too distant future, Prasidh might successfully defend a small number of points in the final of a high-stakes match. For now, you have the pleasure of watching a pulsatingly talented cricketer reach his full potential.
Karthik Krishnaswamy is Deputy Editor at ESPNcricinfo