Bustling Bollinger buoys Chennai
When Doug Bollinger boarded the flight from New Zealand, he could have scarcely imagined his transformation to a superhero to thousands in Chennai. When Chennai Super Kings signed on the hugely successful left-arm quick as the replacement for the injured Jacob Oram, they'd put their money on the right guy to shore up the team's lack of quality bowlers. It was only a question of how soon he could arrive and get to work. His grand entry couldn't have been timed better, with Chennai urgently needing wins to keep pace with the table leaders.
There were no signs of jet lag or weariness owing to the city's hot and sultry weather when Bollinger charged in and maintained his pin-point accuracy, while his colleagues were getting hammered. How Bollinger managed to acclimatise so quickly is a story in itself and it's a testament to his spirit, whether he's wearing a jersey with the Cricket Australia logo or an IPL franchise's.
He had just one training session on the eve of the game to adjust to the new environment, and the belter at the MA Chidambaram Stadium was a world apart from the friendlier conditions at Hamilton. After Albie Morkel leaked 14 off the opening over, Bollinger silenced Rajasthan Royals' opening pair of Michael Lumb and Naman Ojha with just one run off his first over.
Bollinger utilised his strength straightaway, which is to hurry the batsmen with pace and bounce. Ojha uneasily fended off the first three deliveries directed at his body and finally got off the strike with a nudge to the on side. Lumb gave the charge but was comprehensively beaten for pace and bounce, before squeezing out a yorker.
A bouncer which cleared the keeper MS Dhoni was the only miss in another near-perfect over. Eight dot balls out of twelve during the Powerplay overs is astonishing in Twenty20s, particularly on this pitch. The gulf between him and the rest was highlighted in the next two overs, by Morkel and Sudeep Tyagi, in which 33 were scored. When Bollinger returned for his second spell in the 16th over, the rest had hemorrhaged 146 runs in 11 overs.
Little wonder that the partisan crowd - quietened by Shane Watson and Ojha's onslaught - started chanting Bollinger's name when he took the ball again. The sight of Muttiah Muralitharan being thumped for three sixes and a four by Watson gave Dhoni the cue to bring back his best bowler on the day.
The impact was immediate when Watson swished and lost his off stump to a slower off cutter. Even the well-set Ojha was silenced again with three cunning variations - a short ball followed by a yorker and then a slower ball. The chants grew louder with every dot ball. Bollinger's stunning catch at the boundary to get rid of Yusuf Pathan endeared him even more to his adopted crowd.
Dhoni took Bollinger off briefly for a final flurry at the death. Chennai conceded a further 25 off two overs before his final over. Rajasthan still had an outside chance when Bollinger returned in the penultimate over, needing 37 more, but he conceded only four to effectively end the contest. His extra yards of pace were too much for the duo of Ojha and Abhishek Jhunjhunwala, who failed to clear the infield. When he rounded off his spell, with a yorker, a few of his team-mates in the vicinity rushed to pat him on the back. In an innings where the rest conceded at least 11 an over, Bollinger gave away just 15 off his four. If he continues to draw crowds at this rate, we may soon see him kissing the Super Kings logo in celebration.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo