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

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