Match Analysis

Odean Smith, the next big thing from West Indies

The allrounder has made people in various leagues sit up and take notice and now he's done that at the IPL too

Deivarayan Muthu
Odean Smith land Shahrukh Khan finished off a chase of 206, Punjab Kings vs Royal Challengers Bangalore, IPL 2022, Mumbai, March 27, 2022

Odean Smith led the charge for Punjab Kings in a chase of 206  •  BCCI

On the opening night of IPL 2022, 38-year-old Dwayne Bravo showed that he still has it, equalling Lasith Malinga for the most wickets in the history of the league. The second night marked the emergence of 25-year-old Odean Smith, who has all the traits to become a T20 superstar just like his West Indies compatriots.
Mohammad Siraj had taken out Bhanuka Rajapaksa (43) and Raj Bawa (0) off successive balls in the 14th over to reduce Punjab Kings to 139 for 4 in a steep chase of 206 at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai. An over later, Liam Livingstone holed out to Anuj Rawat at sweeper cover off Akash Deep to leave Kings needing 50 off 31 balls, with five wickets in hand.
Kings of old might have cracked under pressure. However, a new-look side, powered by Smith, mowed down the target with an entire over to spare. When he had arrived at No. 7, M Shahrukh Khan, the other finisher, was struggling to time the ball. So, the onus was on Smith to tee off immediately.
After getting off the mark second ball, he sliced his third to sweeper cover, where Rawat shelled the catch this time to reprieve Smith on 1 in the 17th over, bowled by Royal Challengers Bangalore's designated death bowler Harshal Patel. In the next over, Smith unleashed a no-holds-barred assault on Siraj, going 6,4,6,6 in a 25-run over. Game over for RCB.
The original plan from Siraj was to bowl full and hide the ball away from the reach of Smith and deny him access to the shorter, straight boundaries. Smith, however, still reached out and ruthlessly scythed Siraj for six first ball. Siraj then panicked and veered away from the plan, bowling into the pitch and on the stumps. Smith managed to haul a four past the right of square leg.
Siraj then went for the wide cutter, but Smith sized that up too with a six over extra cover, which highlighted his versatility. He closed out the over with another six before Shahrukh sealed the chase. Smith finished with 25 off a mere eight balls at a believe-it-or-not strike-rate of 312.50.
Before Sunday, Smith was an unknown quantity in the IPL, but he had already made a mark at the CPL and the T10 league. Smith had splintered Chris Gayle's bat in CPL 2021 and provided Guyana Amazon Warriors with lower-order muscle on the batting front. At the T10 league for Deccan Gladiators, he launched a 130-metre six, making various scouts sit up and take notice of his all-round skills.
Smith was was also involved in the West Indies home season's most viral moment, when he hit Josh Little for six over cover, only to see it land on the roof of his team-mate Sheldon Cottrell's bright-blue Range Rover.
"I had put in a lot of work going into that CPL, so I was quite confident," Smith had said in January earlier this year. "That was a big part of why I did well: I was very confident in my body, physically, and that's where it all started. I just went out there and expressed myself."
That confidence in his game came to the fore on his IPL debut too. After an ordinary shift with the ball - he gave up 52 runs in four overs - he rallied with the bat to stun RCB with a Player-of-the-Match performance.
"We were stressing on having a good start," Smith said at the post-match presentation. "It was all about belief, once you we have a good start, we have the power at the back end to bring it home. It was just [about] believing we could do it and we did it. [It] didn't go so well with the bowling; it was a very good wicket and it didn't go according to plan with the bowling. I have some stuff to work on in terms of that but batting was good because I helped my team to get home."
IPL, say hello to the next big-hitting allrounder from West Indies.

Deivarayan Muthu is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo