Vishal Dikshit is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
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It was no surprise then that he was snapped up by Mumbai Indians for INR 8.25 crore (USD 1.1 million approx) at the mega auction in February purely for his six-hitting. The surprise came during the IPL. After giving him just two chances, in which he scored 12 and 1 at the start of the season, Mumbai dropped David from the XI. Mumbai and their captain Rohit Sharma are known to give their players a long rope before dropping them which made this move even more baffling.
David, however, waited out for his next chance as Mumbai lost one game after another. He might have been prepared for such a scenario because of the stiff competition overseas players face for a spot in the XI, and David used the time to hone his power-hitting further.
"I was sitting out after the first couple of games and during that period it was an opportunity to train really hard, do as much work as I can in the nets and in the gym, bowling and be ready for when an opportunity came," David said a day before the game against Sunrisers Hyderabad. "It's an opportunity to get used to the conditions and see how other teams are stacking up, what is effective in these conditions in the IPL. So that was a good period for me to work really hard and get ready to come back in the team when that opportunity came."
He came in to walk when Mumbai needed 67 off 35 in a chase of 194. In the 18 balls he faced, he struck three fours that weren't as spectacular, but he laid into T Natarajan in the 18th over when Mumbai needed 45 from 18.
On the first ball, David planted his strong base in front of the stumps and clubbed Natarajan's full toss with a big swing of the arms over long-off. Two balls later, Natarajan missed another yorker, this time on middle, and David swung him square for another six. Next ball Natarajan tried a yorker again but ended up bowling another full toss and David dispatched him over square leg again, this time raising the decibel level further at Wankhede. Natarajan went for the blockhole yet again next ball and David smoked him over long-on for a monstrous six, the second biggest of IPL 2022, at 114 metres.
"I spend a lot of my time in the nets trying to hit sixes," David had said in a virtual press conference before the match. "It's about putting pressure on the bowler and recognising the right situations for when you can try that in a game. There might be different pitches or grounds that suit power hitting for particular bowlers, you got to pick those moments. It's about maintaining confidence for the season and trusting your ability which you can get through training, lots of practice, make sure you're hitting the ball well and you can take that into the game and be fresh-minded."
How much of mental preparation comes in power hitting then? "You do all your work outside of the game in the nets and in the gym to make sure you're feeling strong, and you are hitting the ball well, and then once it's in the game it's all mental if you're…I think it's the same for all batters, you've got to go in clear-minded. If you don't, if you're carrying things into the game, it often impacts your performance. So it's trying to get into that state where you can try and be as consistent as possible mentally and then if you trust your process and stick to it then it will most often bring the best results."
David's team-mate Ishan Kishan said at the post-match press conference that David puts in a lot of work behind his game.
"He makes sure that he'll hit the ball according to where it pitches," Kishan said. "He speaks to the coaches also about it. The best part is he's not someone who mainly hits to the leg side or only targets a certain kind of ball. He's good on the back foot, he has very good power. So even if bowlers miss their yorkers, he's very good at converting them into sixes."
Despite bringing the equation down to a gettable 19 off 13, David ran himself out when he tried to steal a single by bunting the last ball of the over back to Natarajan, who did well to take the bails off at the non-striker's end to catch David short. With David gone, Mumbai also fell short, but after witnessing whom they had invested the 8.25 crore in.