Punjab v Bangalore, IPL 2013, Mohali May 6, 2013

Miller lives up to his potential

David Miller's ability to hit boundaries in clusters on his way to a 38-ball century led to panic among the RCB bowlers
59

A sense of inevitability had come over the PCA Stadium midway through the Kings XI Punjab chase. Sitting in the dugout, Adam Gilchrist, amid helpless glances at the scoreboard, was complaining about poor umpiring decisions his side had received over the season. Royal Challengers Bangalore were bowling and fielding with the look of a side that puts up a monstrous total in a Twenty20, strikes early in the chase and then waits for the remainder of the game to play itself out. The usual questions were being asked. Did Kings XI have the pace to bowl short at Chris Gayle? Was it possible to stop AB de Villiers at the death?

Royal Challengers had reason to feel safe. The last proper batting pair was at the crease, to be followed by a bowling allrounder who had had about the worst tournament debut you could imagine with the ball. Situations can approach the improbable quickly in T20. Nearly 14 an over needed from the last seven. What do you do? If you are David Miller, you hit the cover off the ball, mostly in the 'V', and hand out rhyming threats to bowlers - V, tree, arc, park. If you are Royal Challengers, you do not drop him.

Miller had taken 14 off his previous three deliveries when Virat Kohli missed a skier and copped a blow to his jaw. Soon, the RCB big three were feeling the pressure. De Villiers, of all fielders, fumbled in the deep to allow a second, and his throw arrived exactly in the middle of the pitch. Gayle took a couple of steps and floated his first delivery down the leg side. Kohli argued with the umpire about calling a no-ball that wasn't.

Hard as it was to take your eyes off Miller's assault, you couldn't ignore the panic spreading like wildfire among the RCB bowlers. Three successive boundaries hemmed in by two dropped chances were enough to start it.

Allan Donald had said that Gayle's 30-ball century left his Pune Warriors players scared. That was the first innings of the game and Gayle went after Warriors without a care in the world. This was a chase that began at nearly ten an over. Royal Challengers were not far away from getting into the Kings XI tail. Instead, within a few minutes, theirs was between their legs.

The more RP Singh caves in under pressure, the farther he seems from the bowler who shone briefly in India colours. The more Vinay Kumar bowls short with absent venom, the harder it seems to fathom how Praveen Kumar continues to get ignored.

Perhaps Royal Challengers were unlucky to run into Miller on the night he finally pulled off what he had been threatening to in the past couple of games. He had half-centuries in unsuccessful, but close, chases against the might of Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings. He was Man of the Match when Kings XI chased 186 in Mohali against Warriors, coming in at 58 for 3 and blasting 80 off 41. It hadn't been all power-hitting, though. He'd also guided a modest, but tricky, chase against Delhi Daredevils with an unbeaten 34. In August last year, he almost single-handedly clubbed Yorkshire to the Friends Life t20 title.

Miller has this ability to hit boundaries in clusters. It can quickly unnerve the fielding side, as Royal Challengers found out. Not only does it make the bowlers lose their lengths and feed Miller, but the odd good delivery also gets taken for runs. There was nothing wrong with a shortish Ravi Rampaul ball on off, but amid all the straight sixes, Miller was able to wait on it and guide it very late past short third man. By the time RP Singh came on, Miller had hit the zone. When you can stand in the crease and drive a short of a length ball for six over long-off, you are really killing it. "Killer Miller" fittingly read a placard in the crowd.

It's been three years since Miller made his international debut for South Africa. Though always noted for his big-hitting, he is not exactly a regular yet. He wasn't part of the squad for the World Twenty20 last year but has made it to the Champions Trophy side in the absence of Jacques Kallis.

Tonight, he used his father's advice about hitting in the V to make a hundred in 38 balls and dedicated it to his cousin on her birthday. Yusuf Pathan took one delivery less to make one in 2010, an innings that drew extraordinary praise from his captain Shane Warne . Gayle took eight less to get one, and a cartoon suggested a radical new field setting, with players flying around quidditch-style on brooms to stop Gayle's monster sixes. That won't be out of place for Miller, too, only the area above the V would be crowded with flying brooms.

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on May 8, 2013, 16:48 GMT

    Kohli would have done well to admit his own fielding errors, instead of keeping on saying entire team's fielding was bad. Hell, he dropped a sitter.

    That being said, the look on his face when he dropped it was hilarious. Guess he knew he had lost the match right there.

  • RajeshNaik on May 8, 2013, 8:14 GMT

    What caught my eye in the article was the writer's comment 'The more Vinay Kumar bowls short with absent venom, the harder it seems to fathom how Praveen Kumar continues to get ignored". Well it was one such venom-less delivery that produced a top edge Kohli dropped. Every bowler has a bad day. So did Vinay Kumar in this match. This writer whom I love to call 'the quick comment man', seems to forget that Vinay and Bravo are the only ones who have picked up a wicket in every match in IPL6, thereby contributing in every match. This writer is always a bit harsh on Vinay. Whatever limited ability he has he is able to contribute to the team. He isn't great but works hard & delivers for his team. Is PK a hard worker? Is Irfan a hard worker? They are not. They have a skill (swing) which occasionally works wonders for them and unfortunately we remember only those 'wonder'ful moments. Whereas the foot soldiers who contribute in every match get ridiculed.

  • soumyas on May 8, 2013, 6:07 GMT

    @amit1807kuwait, u r wrong abt Vinay kumar, in this match miller was hitting everyone, and in Vinay's bowling they dropped an easy catch. through out this IPL whenever batsmen tried to hit Vinay, he got their wicket. he is topping wicket list and he gets crucial breaks, he is one of Most valuable players for RCB too.

  • soumyas on May 8, 2013, 6:03 GMT

    Teams who play RP SING, NEHRA, I PATAHN, DINDA never going to win IPL...

  • dummy4fb on May 8, 2013, 4:10 GMT

    after all one thing for sure and it clearly shown. in this type of attitude how will virat kholi lead the india. indian cricket team is not just 11 players, it's represent 6 billion people. in this type of attitude and immaturity he will never closer to MSD's calm and collectiveness. first of all he must be thrown his ego out of the window and learn to respect others.

  • dummy4fb on May 7, 2013, 23:52 GMT

    Miller de world boss...best in de world rite nw

  • amit1807kuwait on May 7, 2013, 18:37 GMT

    Six Indian "quick" bowlers on show during this IPL - Nehra, Agarkar, Munaf, RP Singh, Dinda, and Vinay Kumar - have shown repeatedly how completely out of depth they are when it comes to showing they have some grey matter. And to think that all of them have played for India at some stage of their careers shows how shallow our cricketing reserves can be! I'd love to add Irfan and Sreesanth to this list, but in their cases at least skill was never in doubt!

  • Greatest_Game on May 7, 2013, 18:07 GMT

    Miller made ODI & T20 debuts 3 years ago, but did not settle, his performance below par. Today, in IPL 6, he tops the averages, strike rate (+ 100 runs,) 50 and over scores, & is no. 8 in runs after just 7 games!

    His IPL 6 ave is 117: his T20 ave 27. Why the disparity? Time observing, training with, & learning from superstars & journymen from varied cultures & countries changes a young man, educates, & matures him. Travel, training, & play become rhythmic, a match part of a schedule & not a do-or-die battle. After seeing giants stumble & debutants soar, walking out has not the tension & dread of failing country, but more the calm focus of a net session, facing bowlers no longer feared, finding form unhindered by fear.

    For young players, the IPL's true value is that it is a great leveler: locals alongside legends, age teaching youth that success & failure are inevitable, & have equal value in the journey to unlock the mind & find fulfillment by trusting self to challenge the best.

  • WestIndianInDA on May 7, 2013, 17:56 GMT

    @ SM Good for Miller that he was dropped on 41 otherwise they would not have won the match! Too bad for Captain Attitude Mr. Kohli.......he must have been watching a virgin in the heavens. If you can't defend a total of 190 then what is the point of some of these bowlers.....and when the Kohli realized he had cost RCB the match here comes Gayle to bowl an over that cost 22 runs. BS captaincy by a BS Captain Mr. Virat Kohli!

  • dummy4fb on May 7, 2013, 17:55 GMT

    I hope this is the fillip that kicks David Miller's international career into action.He has always looked upon as being a talent but in this knock he has become a sensation.Everybody in cricket circles is talking about it especially in India and South Africa.The IPL is brilliant in exposing new stars,throwing up the unexpected,dealing with pressure and playing in front of large crowds.Both Miller and Harris have done exceptionally.