Miller on the loose

David Miller: Midas with the finishing touch

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Mohali: This game was a contest between two left-handed batsmen.

But, in the end one of them had to bowl right-handed, and ended up on the losing side, after being smashed for 22 runs in his first over. The bowler’s name was Christopher Henry Gayle.

The batsman’s name was David Miller. For a man who is just 23, this left-handed batsman from South Africa knows a thing or two about handling pressure. Imagine walking in at 51/3, with the opponents on the field sitting pretty on a total of 190/3. Kings XI’s troubles increased as they lost David Hussey; most young batsmen would have given up hope by then. Not Miller.

With 123 runs needed from 60 balls, Miller got to work with Rajagopal Satish for company. He ensured that anything that was full, was promptly smashed for a six. Anything short was pulled away to midwicket for four. Good deliveries were respected, but not wasted. The ones and twos were added to the total. Importantly, the strike was almost always with Miller.

Not that Bangalore didn’t have their opportunity. Miller top-edged a delivery, and the ball went up in the air. Local fans would have said let’s go home. They would stay for the ball went through Virat Kohli’s hands, hit his face, and made contact with the earth. Bowler Vinay Kumar knew that this miss, would prove costly.

R.P Singh came on to bowl with 79 runs needed from 36 balls. The left-armer was pitching the ball at a length, which allowed Miller to swing his bat the way he wanted to. With no sign of the yorker, 26 runs were taken off the over. 53 needed from 30.  Game on.

Ravi Rampaul jogged in as usual, minus any jump at the bowling crease. Miller got his left foot out of the way and sent the ball over midwicket for six. Ones and twos followed, before the combative left-hander brought up a four by guiding the ball past third man. Vinay Kumar came in and was taken for 18, with Miller clearing the boundary at will. Virat Kohli had his hands on his head.

19 from 18. Kohli turned to Chris Gayle for help. But those huge arms work better with a helmet on. The West Indian began with a wide, and was smashed for a six and two fours by Satish. The right-hander passed the strike to Miller, who deservingly finished the game with a six down the ground. It took him to 101 not out. Now that is a winning shot.

Gayle would have thought he had done enough with the bat.

Earlier, Kings XI Punjab skipper David Hussey won the toss and asked Royal Challengers Bangalore to bat first. The match began with Chris Gayle not hitting a boundary in the first over.

The calm before the storm.

Getting the foot out of the way, Gayle (61) warmed up by hitting a few fours on the on side, and down the ground. With effortless ease. He then decided to pick on debutant Michael Neser, smashing one six after another, by taking his front foot out of the way.  Pujara (51) was taking his time to settle in, but wasn’t keen on playing second fiddle.  The man didn’t play away from his body, flicking and picking the gaps with ease. The duo would add 102 runs for the first wicket.

Both batsmen were bowled by Gony as they opted for cross-batted strokes. Virat Kohli too fell after top-edging a ball to Shaun Marsh off Awana. AB de Villiers (38*) and Moise Henriques (16*) however flourished at the end, by giving Neser (0/62) a massage with the bat, as Royal Challengers Bangalore finished with a mammoth total of 190/3. The two walked back to the dressing room, removing their helmets, offering each other some sweaty smiles. Easy win they must have thought.

They didn’t know that there was a Miller on the loose.

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