David Warner is a beast: powerful arms, wide reach and aggressive mindset. He is the quintessential T-20 opener, and when Warner is at the crease, runs don’t flow, runs flood.
Yesterday, Warner stood at the crease for the entire innings, and on any other night, had the swashbuckling Aussie stayed for so long, he would have ended with triple figures. But, that didn’t happen yesterday as he faced 54 balls and managed only 70 runs. His strike rate of 129.62 tells how difficult batting was.
Moises Henriques is another aggressive batsman with a strike rate of 136.04 this season. But yesterday he could manage only nine runs from 16 balls, striking at a rate of barely above 50.
Glenn Maxwell is born to play T-20; he hits sixes over mid-wicket with the same ease as he hits them over point. When at the crease, he has a habit of smashing balls to the fence and until yesterday, he scored a boundary every 3.41 balls this season. But yesterday, he managed only 2 fours from 12 balls.
Extra Cover: Vohra heroics in vain as Sunrisers outshine Kings XI
David Miller and Eoin Morgan have fast hands and are all about brute power – a deadly combination that puts them among the best in this format. Yesterday, both scored a combined total of 14 runs from 23 balls at a strike rate of 60.86.
Other talented batsmen including Shikhar Dhawan, Yuvraj Singh, and Hashim Amla too failed on a pitch where only 312 runs were scored in 40 overs at the run rate of 7.80. But in such difficult conditions one man, batted at a whopping strike rate of 190 and managed to survive 50 balls.
Who is Manan Vohra was the first question IPL fans asked when the young right-hand batsman was among the only two players retained by Kings XI before the IPL auction 2014. The bold decision by Kings XI was not based on Vohra’s performance but on the promise he showed. After representing Punjab for 39 matches, Vohra scored 902 runs at an average of 25.77. These figures are not too bad, but they don’t stand out as well.
After three quiet seasons, it seems that yesterday was the night when Vohra finally transformed his potential into a classy performance.
The Punjab batsman scored a boundary off his very first ball with an aerial back foot drive, a shot batsmen play when they are confident. But as Punjab kept losing wickets, he took calculated risks and timed his aggression. He was calm against the pacers but brutally attacked the spinners.
His onslaught against Rashid Khan was outstanding. After smashing him for 16 in his first over, Vohra belted the young Afghan spinner for two fours and two sixes in the 16th over to keep the chase alive.
He paced his innings with maturity and continued fighting even when wickets fell regularly from the other end. His first 20 balls produced only 29 runs while the next 20 balls yielded 34 runs. The last 10 balls were where Vohra was on absolute fire as he belted 32 runs in them.
The right-hander scored 95 runs from 50 balls while the rest of the KXIP team scored just 69 runs from 70 balls. The only thing Vohra demanded was support from other end, which he never received.
With 56 runs required from 36 balls, Vohra scored 21 runs from Rashid’s over and brought the equation to 35 runs from 24 balls. Later, when it again slipped to 28 runs from 18 balls, Vohra took on Kaul and hit him for a six and ran a couple of two’s to bring it to 18 from 15 balls.
Batting certainly was an uphill task on the dry Hyderabad pitch and it was evident from the way most batsmen fared on the track. But with the weight of a daunting target on his shoulders and pressure of wickets falling from the other end, Manan Vohra displayed a workshop in batting under pressure.
He came out unscratched when the new ball spit venom and picked up the variations of Rashid without any trouble. In the middle overs, he milked the medium pacers to keep the chase on track and didn’t allow SRH bowlers to get the better of him. And in the final stages, he brought out all his strokes and showcased his talent; his horizontal bat six over long on against Kaul in the 18th over displayed his clarity of mind and power.
Punjab already has a batting-heavy top order with the likes of Maxwell, Miller, Morgan and Amla. But what they lacked was a presence of a solid Indian batsman with Murali Vijay’s injury further adding to their misery.
But after yesterday’s knock, Vohra has taken giant leaps to fill that void. This could well be the season when the faith that Kings XI management showed on Vohra pays off.
The Kings XI Punjab batsman couldn’t get his side over the line in yesterday’s match, but if he continues to perform in the same manner, he could pull Punjab out of the bottom of the points table.