Rajasthan v Hyderabad, Eliminator, Delhi May 22, 2013

Hodge does it with low back lift and small sixes

Batting higher, Brad Hodge could have easily scored 500 runs this season, but his captain will gladly take the 50 he scored under pressure from No. 7
24

There is something reliable about stocky men with low back lifts. When the pitch is slow or when the reverse swing is considerable, these are the batsmen you want to be finishing your innings with. They are the least likely to play stupid shots under pressure, a Twenty20 trademark. When they break into rock-the-baby celebrations, they easily defend it as not mocking the bowler they have just hit for a match-winning six, a bowler who has won many a heart with his celebrations and uninhibited play. "I was pointing out I have got children too."

Rajasthan Royals captain Rahul Dravid can tell reliable men when he sees them. Throughout IPL 2013 he has used Brad Hodge, the 38-year-old Australian, low in the order, where he doesn't get many chances. Or so it seems. "He doesn't get many opportunities to bat," says Dravid. "If he bats 3 and 4, there is no doubt he can score 500 runs as well. But there is nobody who can finish the game better than Brad Hodge, especially against quality pace."

The strategy has been put to severe test this season, and almost seemed to backfire on the big night. Dravid's young batsmen all seemed to fall to the pressure and the charm of Sammy even when chasing just 133. The eliminator was turning into a match to be decided by slogs and hoicks. Sammy's catch on the midwicket boundary to dismiss Shane Watson - full stretch in the air to pluck it overhead - was sensational, but after that it was just straight length bowling that took Rajasthan Royals from 50 for 1 to 57 for 5. Sunrisers Hyderabad's stroke-play hadn't been much better.

The game was crying out for someone to pull it out of mediocrity, and out came Hodge. The asking rate - already nudging eight - was getting out of hand on a sticky surface, and Sanju Samson was to score just 10 off 21 at the other end. It was now time for a calculated assault on a tricky pitch by the last batsman who could win the game. Just the time for a stocky man with a short back lift.

There were no risks taken. Hodge picked his bowlers - the hitherto successful Sunrisers legspinners - and chose to time his shots instead of slogging. There was a lesson there for the younger batsmen who had fallen before him. He read a Karan Sharma googly and sent it over long-on. Then he flicked him over square leg. Then he finally got the short ball. This wasn't a bad over, but it went for 18. The asking rate was back to seven an over now.

Hodge went after Amit Mishra too, but now the Sunrisers raised their game. Back came Dale Steyn and trapped Samson with reverse swing. Then James Faulkner played out dots. Even our stocky man with short back lift felt pressure now. He went slogging after Thisara Perera to kill the game in the 19th over. Failed to connect any. He was happy to accept he felt pressure. No false bravado.

"I was probably trying to get the Chris Gayle distance instead of the Brad Hodge distance," Hodge joked. "That's what can happen. When you are under pressure and looking to try to take the pressure off by going for the big maximum, and you try too hard."

In the next over, though, the cool Hodge was back, and he broke the heart of the other hero on the night. Sammy had been everywhere. Scoring runs, taking catches, doing commentary, taking wickets, Sammy had all but owned the night. Then he bowled a short ball, which Hodge pulled for a six that went the Brad Hodge distance and not the Chris Gayle distance. The game was all but over, and Hodge nailed it with another six over long-off and stole what has been Sammy's celebration this year.

For a few minutes after the defeat, Sammy sat sullen in the dugout, but he will agree he lost to the better player on the day. And he has got children too.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • sane on May 23, 2013, 7:17 GMT

    A very Human Interview by Brad Hodge. Admitting his mind set his limitations, takes a Man. No wonder he has been so successful. Though success has come late to him, it shows that Talent and Hardwork, will ultimately be rewarded

  • on May 23, 2013, 4:21 GMT

    Hodge You Beauty.. That was the one of the finest T20 innings in the low scoring match. RR was dead and buried. They needed something special after went down for 57- 5 and Hodge was special. Almost 1600 Runs for Hodge. Highest Runs by an Individual in T20 Cricket. Great Player with amazing sense of humor. I noticed in this season, Whenever RR was in trouble someone stood up and put his hand up for the team. Amazing season for the RR. Great Captaincy and Great team environment. No pressure at all on youngster because no big players are there to follow them up. All Credit goes to Dravid and Paddy. Paddy's mind plays amazing cricket. Great Team Management.Monty Desai, Zubin Bharucha are the Unsung Hero. Good Going RR. Keep it Up…Cheers!!!!

  • __PK on May 22, 2013, 21:58 GMT

    Yeah, yeah, cometh the hour, cometh the man... one of the best finishers in the game.... he was the right man in the right place at the right time. Still doesn't change the fact that it's an appalling decision to bat him at seven. "But there is nobody who can finish the game better than Brad Hodge." Very true. But there's also only a handful of players who bat better than Hodge at any stage of the order in T20. If he'd been batting at 1, 2 or 3, the chase would never have been in doubt.

  • on May 24, 2013, 5:40 GMT

    Lets not forget the contribution of Samson. Staying for few overs calmed the nerve and the fact that he didnt try to hit all the balls made hodge comfortable. However he is too young to face the likes of Steyn , but watchout for the guy.

  • coldcoffee123 on May 23, 2013, 18:47 GMT

    Kevin WHO??? Kevin O'Brian. Ireland has just hit 15 off the last over to TIE with Pak.

  • I_Love_My_India on May 23, 2013, 15:55 GMT

    I do not know why RR is sticking with Yagnik. I have seen many matches Sachin Baby played and he is equal or better than Sanju.

  • on May 23, 2013, 12:58 GMT

    those who criticise Samson for low strike rate in this match should know that RR were at 57/5 when Samson reached at crease. What if he had gone for big shots? he could got easily.... but what he did ws right and sensible cricket under pressure.....he was ably supporting Hodge and they made a wonderful partnership which was absent through out this match....

    so what ia the need of highlighting Samsons low strike rate to demoralize him?..rather he should be applauded for his mental strength and good sense.

  • Nitin2208 on May 23, 2013, 11:16 GMT

    Somebody standsup everytime for RR be it watson,Binny,Samson,the man himself (Dravid) & this time it was Australian vetern Hodgy !! RR should not change the core of their team like CSK if they want to continue the good run in the coming seasons... Way to go for dravid & his men !!

  • rgfedex on May 23, 2013, 11:05 GMT

    Well. Rahul should gives some overs to hodge at kolkata. He is a handy bowler.

  • alarky on May 23, 2013, 10:38 GMT

    Congrats Mr Hodge! At almost 39, you are proving that you are still YOUNG with the bat, as Adam Gilchrist showed at age 42! I don't where some of these commentators get the idea that a cricketer at 38 is so should suddenly lose all his glory - this is not the case for those who were genuinely good! You see Dravid play as if he's 24? There must be question mark against the names of those who look so lame in the wicket and not producing convincingly at age 38 and beyond.

  • sane on May 23, 2013, 7:17 GMT

    A very Human Interview by Brad Hodge. Admitting his mind set his limitations, takes a Man. No wonder he has been so successful. Though success has come late to him, it shows that Talent and Hardwork, will ultimately be rewarded

  • on May 23, 2013, 4:21 GMT

    Hodge You Beauty.. That was the one of the finest T20 innings in the low scoring match. RR was dead and buried. They needed something special after went down for 57- 5 and Hodge was special. Almost 1600 Runs for Hodge. Highest Runs by an Individual in T20 Cricket. Great Player with amazing sense of humor. I noticed in this season, Whenever RR was in trouble someone stood up and put his hand up for the team. Amazing season for the RR. Great Captaincy and Great team environment. No pressure at all on youngster because no big players are there to follow them up. All Credit goes to Dravid and Paddy. Paddy's mind plays amazing cricket. Great Team Management.Monty Desai, Zubin Bharucha are the Unsung Hero. Good Going RR. Keep it Up…Cheers!!!!

  • __PK on May 22, 2013, 21:58 GMT

    Yeah, yeah, cometh the hour, cometh the man... one of the best finishers in the game.... he was the right man in the right place at the right time. Still doesn't change the fact that it's an appalling decision to bat him at seven. "But there is nobody who can finish the game better than Brad Hodge." Very true. But there's also only a handful of players who bat better than Hodge at any stage of the order in T20. If he'd been batting at 1, 2 or 3, the chase would never have been in doubt.

  • on May 24, 2013, 5:40 GMT

    Lets not forget the contribution of Samson. Staying for few overs calmed the nerve and the fact that he didnt try to hit all the balls made hodge comfortable. However he is too young to face the likes of Steyn , but watchout for the guy.

  • coldcoffee123 on May 23, 2013, 18:47 GMT

    Kevin WHO??? Kevin O'Brian. Ireland has just hit 15 off the last over to TIE with Pak.

  • I_Love_My_India on May 23, 2013, 15:55 GMT

    I do not know why RR is sticking with Yagnik. I have seen many matches Sachin Baby played and he is equal or better than Sanju.

  • on May 23, 2013, 12:58 GMT

    those who criticise Samson for low strike rate in this match should know that RR were at 57/5 when Samson reached at crease. What if he had gone for big shots? he could got easily.... but what he did ws right and sensible cricket under pressure.....he was ably supporting Hodge and they made a wonderful partnership which was absent through out this match....

    so what ia the need of highlighting Samsons low strike rate to demoralize him?..rather he should be applauded for his mental strength and good sense.

  • Nitin2208 on May 23, 2013, 11:16 GMT

    Somebody standsup everytime for RR be it watson,Binny,Samson,the man himself (Dravid) & this time it was Australian vetern Hodgy !! RR should not change the core of their team like CSK if they want to continue the good run in the coming seasons... Way to go for dravid & his men !!

  • rgfedex on May 23, 2013, 11:05 GMT

    Well. Rahul should gives some overs to hodge at kolkata. He is a handy bowler.

  • alarky on May 23, 2013, 10:38 GMT

    Congrats Mr Hodge! At almost 39, you are proving that you are still YOUNG with the bat, as Adam Gilchrist showed at age 42! I don't where some of these commentators get the idea that a cricketer at 38 is so should suddenly lose all his glory - this is not the case for those who were genuinely good! You see Dravid play as if he's 24? There must be question mark against the names of those who look so lame in the wicket and not producing convincingly at age 38 and beyond.

  • on May 23, 2013, 10:27 GMT

    so somehow what pollard did to watson was not alright and what hodge did to samson seems to be something great!

  • on May 23, 2013, 10:00 GMT

    Whatever is the strategy of Dravid & RR it is unfair to send all inexperienced players in a row and creating a tense situation. Today Hodge saved but every time he can't

  • A.Ak on May 23, 2013, 9:13 GMT

    Hodge is not really known for his good temper or his patience. But he is known for his willingness to perform. He waited so long and watching kids performing in his team. There came the opportunity and he delivered it. His expression is understandable.

  • Edassery on May 23, 2013, 8:56 GMT

    His low back lift indeed lifted his team yesterday and those small consecutive sixes changed Sammy's fortunes in a matter of seconds.

  • on May 23, 2013, 8:45 GMT

    Hoping For RR to lift the Trophy. Full credits to Hodge for winning ..

  • venkatesh018 on May 23, 2013, 7:56 GMT

    If there was any doubt, RR proved once again that they are not a one-man(Watson) batting team.

  • Crime_Mastr_Gogo on May 23, 2013, 6:00 GMT

    Awesome article Sid ! Captures the sentiments to the fullest.

  • ravi_hari on May 23, 2013, 5:10 GMT

    Each time Dravid reposed confidence on his senior pros, they have delivered. It was Watson earlier and Hodge yesterday. Dravid and Rahane had delivered in quite a few matches. RR seems the side which relies more on team work than individual brilliance. They do not have stars and they do not have the flamboyance of CSK or MI, but they are clinical and play within their limits. The fact that Dravid did not pick any spinner eventhough the pitch suited them, as he did not have any quality spinner proves this. . Instead he used his medium pacers to do the work which they did efficiently. The way Hodge played and later admitted that he is no Gayle to lodge every ball out of the ground shows how each team member knows his strengths and weaknesses. Hodge had many knocks this season which helped the others finish the games. However, yesterday he got the opportunity and executed it in style. That is the hall mark of a senior pro who knows when to shift gears. Feeling sorry for SRH. Kudos RR.

  • Sharath274 on May 23, 2013, 4:28 GMT

    For the qualifier in Kolkatta, RR will have to make some changes for sure.. cant go in without a proper spinner in the XI.. Yagnik has to make way for a spinner..but the spot fixing has ruled out 2 possible contenders and I am not sure how good Harmeet singh or Pravin Tambe will be in such a crucial encounter.. other option will be to leave out kevon cooper for hogg or badree, that wll be a risk and then Sachin Baby or Menaria can take the place of Yagnik, and they both can roll their arm over for an over or two if needed...Good luck RR.. wud love to see a CSK VS RR final as they are my 2 favourite teams...

  • on May 23, 2013, 3:53 GMT

    Dravid is more brilliant than any other captain and his dedication and commitment to the game is the icing on the cake. Sidhu once said that Rahul will walk on broken glass for the team. RD has a whole team that will do that for him. Halla Bol! Halla Bol!

    At this stage Well done Hodgy, Rahane, Cooper, Rahul, Mallik, Watto, Sanju, Siddarth...As a matter of fact, Well done Royals! You are The Team!

  • unni001 on May 23, 2013, 3:16 GMT

    I do not know why Dravid is persisting with Yagnik .He could not play a single ball properly yesterday and perished in the fourth ball off a seemingly innocuous delivery. Mediocre players like Yagnik should be kept on the sidelines. A chance should be given to Baby to come higher up the order and show his mettle.

  • on May 23, 2013, 2:49 GMT

    This is one of the best articles. Nicely written.

  • D.Sharma on May 23, 2013, 2:27 GMT

    If it ain't broken, don't fix it. People need to stop complaining about his batting order.

  • on May 22, 2013, 19:37 GMT

    Epic stuff. All said, experience always counts - Hodge has got 5500 T20 runs of them backing him up. Sunrisers have much to be proud of though.

  • on May 22, 2013, 19:37 GMT

    Epic stuff. All said, experience always counts - Hodge has got 5500 T20 runs of them backing him up. Sunrisers have much to be proud of though.

  • D.Sharma on May 23, 2013, 2:27 GMT

    If it ain't broken, don't fix it. People need to stop complaining about his batting order.

  • on May 23, 2013, 2:49 GMT

    This is one of the best articles. Nicely written.

  • unni001 on May 23, 2013, 3:16 GMT

    I do not know why Dravid is persisting with Yagnik .He could not play a single ball properly yesterday and perished in the fourth ball off a seemingly innocuous delivery. Mediocre players like Yagnik should be kept on the sidelines. A chance should be given to Baby to come higher up the order and show his mettle.

  • on May 23, 2013, 3:53 GMT

    Dravid is more brilliant than any other captain and his dedication and commitment to the game is the icing on the cake. Sidhu once said that Rahul will walk on broken glass for the team. RD has a whole team that will do that for him. Halla Bol! Halla Bol!

    At this stage Well done Hodgy, Rahane, Cooper, Rahul, Mallik, Watto, Sanju, Siddarth...As a matter of fact, Well done Royals! You are The Team!

  • Sharath274 on May 23, 2013, 4:28 GMT

    For the qualifier in Kolkatta, RR will have to make some changes for sure.. cant go in without a proper spinner in the XI.. Yagnik has to make way for a spinner..but the spot fixing has ruled out 2 possible contenders and I am not sure how good Harmeet singh or Pravin Tambe will be in such a crucial encounter.. other option will be to leave out kevon cooper for hogg or badree, that wll be a risk and then Sachin Baby or Menaria can take the place of Yagnik, and they both can roll their arm over for an over or two if needed...Good luck RR.. wud love to see a CSK VS RR final as they are my 2 favourite teams...

  • ravi_hari on May 23, 2013, 5:10 GMT

    Each time Dravid reposed confidence on his senior pros, they have delivered. It was Watson earlier and Hodge yesterday. Dravid and Rahane had delivered in quite a few matches. RR seems the side which relies more on team work than individual brilliance. They do not have stars and they do not have the flamboyance of CSK or MI, but they are clinical and play within their limits. The fact that Dravid did not pick any spinner eventhough the pitch suited them, as he did not have any quality spinner proves this. . Instead he used his medium pacers to do the work which they did efficiently. The way Hodge played and later admitted that he is no Gayle to lodge every ball out of the ground shows how each team member knows his strengths and weaknesses. Hodge had many knocks this season which helped the others finish the games. However, yesterday he got the opportunity and executed it in style. That is the hall mark of a senior pro who knows when to shift gears. Feeling sorry for SRH. Kudos RR.

  • Crime_Mastr_Gogo on May 23, 2013, 6:00 GMT

    Awesome article Sid ! Captures the sentiments to the fullest.

  • venkatesh018 on May 23, 2013, 7:56 GMT

    If there was any doubt, RR proved once again that they are not a one-man(Watson) batting team.

  • on May 23, 2013, 8:45 GMT

    Hoping For RR to lift the Trophy. Full credits to Hodge for winning ..