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Fluent Rahul tries avoiding chaos, Shami revels in it

One man single-handedly carried his team's batting, another bowled with fire of a different kind

Alagappan Muthu
Alagappan Muthu
KL Rahul gave the innings a frenetic start  •  BCCI

KL Rahul gave the innings a frenetic start  •  BCCI

KL Rahul batting within himself is like a rainbow with only three colours. It's nice but you kinda know there's something missing.
This is one of the few Indian batsmen who has a 360 degree game and when he stops the noise that clouds his head and lets his instincts take over, every part of his game levels up His timing. His balance. His shot selection.
His chances of victory…
Sunday was an excellent reminder - if only to Rahul himself - of why he should always go full VIBGYOR. His 77 off 51 balls was a masterpiece of attacking batting.
And in simplicity.
Rahul was finding the boundary once every five balls and all he seemed to be concentrating on was keeping a still head.
He did give in to one luxury though. Clearing the front leg. It made him a total menace to Trent Boult. When the left-arm quick pitched up, he was lifted over cover for six. When he pulled his length back, he was whacked over midwicket four.
That was one cog of the Mumbai Indians bowling machine in ruins. No wickets to the powerplay specialist.
"After wicketkeeping for 20 overs, I knew that the first six overs was very crucial," Rahul said at the presentation. "The wicket was slightly slower and we knew it would get slower after the six and they had decent spinners. It was important me and Mayank (Agarwal) give the team a good start, anywhere close to 50 or 60.
"With Chris Gayle coming into the team, I have that freedom to go in the first six and get as many runs as possible because I know Chris and Pooran, I trust them to take down spinners. So yeah, Chris coming in has made my job as a batter a lot more easier."
Rahul hit six boundaries off the first 17 deliveries he faced and for the rest of his innings, he tried his utmost to make Kings XI choke-proof. He didn't want any more crazy stuff happening to his team in a chase.
Cue a 149 kph yorker that shatters his stumps and lets loose all the crazy.
Kings XI have buckled when things go even slightly off script. But in Dubai, where the script was ripped to shreds, put in a box, strapped to a rocket and sent into space, they found a man who was so profoundly clear of mind.
Mohammed Shami was given five runs to defend in the Super Over. That's nothing. That's an inside edge for four and game over. Only the most extraordinary of bowlers could make this horrible situation work.
Like one who had broken Alastair Cook off stump in two. Or one who reverse swung great big circles around the West Indies on debut. Or one who was India's pride and joy at the 2015 World Cup as he ignored an ever worsening knee injury to keep charging in for them.
Shami has not always hit those highs in franchise cricket, but with no other option, he willed himself to do something big here.
Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock were waiting. Two batsmen who love getting under the ball and lofting it away.
Again no margin for error.
Shami put all of that aside and ran in with only one thought in mind. Hit the block hole. ("He was very clear he wanted to go six yorkers," Rahul said)
Mumbai tried everything they could to throw him off. Their captain, who is one of the cleanest hitters down the ground, was desperate enough to try scooping the ball. It was a sign that he couldn't deal with the relentless, ferocious accuracy.
No one in the history of the IPL had ever defended a single-digit score in the Super Over. Then along came Shami.

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo