It is tough for players like Lockie Ferguson to get a game in IPL. Every XI has only four overseas vacancies, and most teams have their share of superstars. If you are not a superstar, it helps to be a batsman or an allrounder even. Ferguson is not quite either of them. The joke when Ferguson was picked up at the auction by Rising Pune Supergiant was that the squad needed at least one player with a local connection, Ferguson College being an iconic Pune institution.
Rising Pune still gave him a game, two weeks ago, and he conceded 44 in his four overs against the big hitters of Gujarat Lions. Once again, against some angry big hitters, Ferguson found himself bowling in defence of a below-par 157. In the fifth over of the innings, he ran in with Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers at the wicket.
By the time he was done with his third over, Ferguson had all but finished the game. His figures of 3-1-5-2 included the wicket of de Villiers, then a wicket-maiden, and between those two events, a misfield by him produced a run-out. De Villiers' wicket was a sharp catch at short cover, but Stuart Binny's top-edge to a bouncer belonged in first-class cricket.
Ferguson bowled with pace and used variations cleverly to return figures of 4-1-7-2, the joint third-most economical four-over figures in all of IPL.
The wow moment
Ferguson was quick to acknowledge that de Villiers picked out the fielder, and that Manoj Tiwary took a good sharp catch at short cover. However, as a play he read it well. He had bowled two good balls to de Villiers until then: a single and a dot to quick short-of-a-length deliveries. Feguson said he knew de Villiers was going to go hard at the third. This one was fuller, and brought Ferguson the cherished wicket.
Stats that matter
Ferguson bowled 18 dot balls, the most by anyone in an innings this season.
De Villiers was dismissed for a third straight single-digit score, the first time it has happened in the IPL.
Only twice has anybody bowled his quota of four overs in IPL for fewer than the seven that Ferguson conceded.
What they said
"Magnificent effort, three overs of dot balls. Bowled a great pace, hit good lengths, bowled an excellent bouncer as well. Exciting player for the future."
Steven Smith is a grateful captain
"Look, I think we were 15-20 short. We started really well, which made my job easier. AB was a good start, a great catch. The boys were incredible, and obviously, pleasing to get a performance myself. Worked on a bowling plan with coach Eric, and tried to keep it as simple as possible. I was just trying to create some early pressure. Just got two dots in, knew he was going hard at the third one."