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Shimron Hetmyer 'programs mind' to tackle tough chases

"It always helps to practise with the mindset that you're a couple of wickets down and have to get say 100 runs in eight overs"

Twelve overs into their chase at Motera, Rajasthan Royals were going at less than a run a ball, and they needed 14 runs an over with four batters already back in the dugout. It seemed lost-cause territory, Gujarat Titans well on their way to their fourth successive win against this opposition. But Shimron Hetmyer, Royals' big finisher, had been training for just this kind of situation.
After the game, which, with some help from his captain Sanju Samson, he won for Royals with four balls to spare, Hetmyer explained. "I just practise it really. It always helps to practise with the mindset that you're a couple of wickets down and you have to get say 100 runs probably in eight overs. You just try to program your mind that way, and so far it's working."
Samson got things moving in the 13th over, hitting Titans' lynchpin Rashid Khan for three successive sixes. The following over Hetmyer, on 4 off seven balls at the time, took Alzarri Joseph for a four and a six, and from there the big hits never ceased. Samson fell to left-arm wristspinner Noor Ahmad in the 15th, but only after taking him for a four and six, before Hetmyer and Dhruv Jurel took full toll on Joseph again, going 6, 4, 6 in a 16th over that went for 20. Shami, Titans' best bowler on the night, managed to prise out two wickets in the penultimate over but was himself dispatched for 16 runs by Jurel and R Ashwin. That left Hetmyer, now on 48 off 24, on strike for the final over, with just seven runs to get, and facing up to the spin of Ahmad.
"I was actually pretty happy, to be honest, to be facing [a spinner in the final over]," Hetmyer said. "But I think he had bowled pretty well tonight. So I was just thinking, if I can just get a double off the first ball and then just see what happens after that."
What happened was Hetmyer received a short one from Ahmad, and duly pulled it into the stands to seal an improbable chase with time to spare. And this was a win that Hetmyer "really wanted". "Just really wanted to win against these guys because they beat us three times [in the league phase, in the qualifier, and in the final] last year," he said. "So it was a kind of revenge really."
It might have seemed improbable from the outside, but Samson said he knew this chase was not beyond his team. "With the start we had while batting [being reduced to 4 for 2], it was very important to know how good a wicket this was. With the quality of bowling they had in the powerplay, we had to respect them.
"But we knew at this ground, on this wicket, chasing would be really nice with the power we have at the end."
Titans will take due note. As their captain Hardik Pandya said after the game: "The game is never over till it's over. So I think this is one more lesson for us."