Kolkata Knight Riders v Somerset, CLT20, Hyderabad September 25, 2011

No stopping confident van der Merwe

Roelof van der Merwe didn't hold back in this innings but there was no desperation in his game

At times, a batsman takes so much control over the flow of a game that even a partisan crowd is stunned into silent acceptance of an inevitable defeat. That moment arrived in the tenth over of Somerset's chase when Roelof van der Merwe, who had already brutalised his way to 62 off 30, got a bouncer from Jacques Kallis.

van der Merwe's response was to arch back and guide it over the wicketkeeper. He ended up playing the shot so delicately that the ball went to the fine leg boundary. There was a gasp from the crowd as it realised decisively that Kolkata Knight Riders had run into a batsman so confident in his approach that there was no stopping him.

It was that kind of innings from van der Merwe. He is usually not one to hold back but there is also, almost always, a sense of desperation to his hitting. He didn't hold back today either but importantly, the desperation was absent. From the moment he came in, there was a sense that he was going to go after the bowling, and that he was going to get away with it. This made him even more dangerous, as he managed to inflict irreversible damage by the time he was dismissed in the 14th over.

In the second-wicket partnership of 105 between van der Merwe and Peter Trego, Trego's contribution was 23. He didn't need to anything other than get van der Merwe at the right end. The first four overs of the stand, all against spin, went for 43 with van der Merwe finding the boundary seven times. Gautam Gambir even brought Brett Lee back for an over but by then van der Merwe had gathered too much steam to be reined in.

He later admitted that the knock was much more than his usual frenetic cameos. "I felt that it was one of my more controlled innings upfront," he said. He is aware of the active role he has to play at No.3 in the absence of Craig Kieswetter and Jos Buttler and gave it everything.

Whatever the Knight Riders threw at him, the boundaries just kept coming. He played the late cut, he drove over cover, he whipped over midwicket, he even reverse-swept for six. That last shot brought a playful intervention from his captain Alfonso Thomas at the media briefing. "Don't encourage him," Thomas told a reporter who asked van der Merwe how he had managed to play the shot. "It was maybe just a rush of blood to upset the field a bit; luckily it worked but won't be playing it too much," van der Merwe said.

When the deft upper cut was mentioned, van der Merwe said with a straight face that he was "just trying to get out of the way" of the ball. But the joke was on the Knight Riders. After a flowing 40 against them four days ago, van der Merwe had again managed to hurt them, for the second game running.

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on September 27, 2011, 19:54 GMT

    JUICE - Maybe I'll get out of my armchair one day. Maybe I'll look at the train timetable next year to see how doable it is. Don't most of the T20s sell out though?

  • Simon on September 27, 2011, 14:05 GMT

    With Kies and Buttler back we're less reliant on Trego and RVDM. Compo's also doing well. You can buy a ticket online the day before a game and print it at home, hop on a train to Taunton, sit back and enjoy 6 hours of quality cricket. Simple.

  • John on September 27, 2011, 10:09 GMT

    JUICE... There are 2 things that put me off actually attending live games. 1 is that I hate travelling on public transport (as I don't drive) and 2 is that the weather - esp over recent years - is so unpredictable in the summer and I'd hate to buy tickets , travel tickets etc only to have the game rained off. Lame I know but I'm not flush with money. LG is from nearby. I'm not sure about RVDM in the 4 day comp , but I'd definitely have him ahead of Pollard - he'll probably fail miserably now I've said that. If MK doesn't play for Somerset next season , how about a quality bowler for the 4 day game and bring back Ponting alongside RVDM for the T20s? One thing I slightly worry about in this comp , is all our other batsmen. Trego played a bit of an anchor role and maybe he'd have been able to take the initiative - as he always has done in England - if VDM's exploits don't come off , but I worry slightly on being over reliant on VDM's batting. Still I guess Jos'll be there soon

  • Simon on September 27, 2011, 7:34 GMT

    Kartiks not been as effective this year, but if he does decide to end is his county career, we are clearly down a fine attacking spinner. Can this void be filled in 40 over and 4 day cricket by RVDMs lefties and possibly together with a combination of Waller or Dockrell??? I haven't seen him bowl enough - RVDM and 4 day cricket anyone? But if he could, our middle order of Trego, Buttler and RVDM would be scary, no 4th day chasing total would be safe!!! As for arm chair support from Devon, support from all the West Country counties are crucial to the long term future of Somerset if we are to avoid becoming a marginalised provincial minnow in the face of the big city test venue counties. I suggest you come up for a CB40 match next year, you'll find Devonians are made extremely welcome. Not to mention the future of the team; Gregory, Dibble and the Overton twins are all from Devon, Jones is from Dorset, Waller from Wiltshire etc.

  • John on September 27, 2011, 4:36 GMT

    I just think it's amusing to see Gambhir out first ball to a 19-year old. The legacy of the Indian tour lingers on!

  • John on September 26, 2011, 22:15 GMT

    JUICEOFTHEAPPLE - Enjoy youir views - as I do everyone's on this subject. I feel a little fake as I'm just an armchair fan from Plymouth whereas you go to see them. Not seen much of Dibble , but re Suppiah - I know he had a shocker vs Puttan but he has had looked fairly consistent as a bowler each time I've seen him or seen his figures. On hindsight I think that AT should have bowled some more of Gregory or even Trego. I agree re RVDM's bowling over Pollard's too. Although funnily P's bowling figs have been good for MI. DAVEROTHERY,I fink Kartick a little hit and miss. Obviously hugely talented but he seems to have as many off days as on days and he contributes little in the bat or in the field. Sorry if I've offended core fans NCURD and other SS fans, Is Gregory injured? It just seems strange to play a guy who bowls well and stems the flow of runs and then send him home. I like Kirby but if he was the guy they were going to keep why didn't they play him ahead of Gregory?

  • John on September 26, 2011, 21:53 GMT

    MUNKEYMOMO - Totally agree re Hildreth. I know this is a controversial thing but I would have sent Hildreth home - for a rest - and kept Jones or Snell out there as batsmen. Re VDM , I remember seeing him play a T20 match on TV and he was whacking the ball all over the place. Also if memory serves me right , he scored 100 in one of the group games and dwarfed Tres's scoring rate. The thing I really like about the guy , compared to the rest of the Somerset side (inc Tres at times) , with the exception of Jos is that he looks to be very busy right from when he arrives at the crease. I know that at times this may be his undoing , but I really like the guy alot. I prefer him to Pollard because he of the intensity he shows in all facets of his game. Also let's not forget that Pollard chose Mumbai over Somerset. Sign him up now before someone else gets in there.

  • sri on September 26, 2011, 16:18 GMT

    iam just waiting for gambhir to get injured again but continue this series and skip the next international series.

  • rob on September 26, 2011, 14:02 GMT

    @Nduru. You're exactly right. Tahir and Botha are both much better bowlers. That's complete nonsense that RVDM has been excluded because of quotas. He had his chances and failed on the big stage. The main spinners ahead of him aren't even so-called quota players.

  • kan on September 26, 2011, 13:30 GMT

    Shameless Gambhir is playing Champions League when he faked injury (concussion) and skipped the England tour ! it shows his priority of KKR over country, we fans hate him for setting such bad example

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