A day in the life of Tewatia
Promoted to No. 4, after a big partnership between Steven Smith and Sanju Samson, Rahul Tewatia got off to such a poor start - 8 off 19 - that experts and fans alike began to debate the "retire-out" option. But then, just like that, the tide turned. Here are excerpts from ESPNcricinfo's commentary on the roller-coaster ride that was Rajasthan Royals vs Kings XI Punjab.
When Tewatia walked in, at the end of the ninth over, the asking rate was 11.27.
Rahul Tewatia has been promoted to No. 4. He is the only left-hand batsman in this line-up. They want to line up the leggies now. And [KL] Rahul responds by giving the ball to the offie, Glenn Maxwell. Cat and mouse.
The Maxwell switch worked for Kings XI Punjab. He bowled two overs without a boundary, the only such ones of the chase until then. Tewatia was 5 off 10, and the asking rate had gone to 13.25 by the end of the 12th over.
Tewatia reminds me of the time when Jadeja was promoted by India in the 2009 T20 World Cup. He couldn't hit, he couldn't get out. Here is Bishnoi.
Jadeja had scored 25 off 35 in a chase of 154 in that match. India ended up losing. That is what seemed to be the fate facing the Royals as well, when Tewatia failed to hit Ravi Bishnoi, the legspinner he was sent out to target. Tewatia 5 off 13.
I feel for Tewatia, I really do, because he will become the villain of the match, and he is an earnest cricketer who loves to do whatever he can for the team, but he has been put in an impossible position by the management who have over-estimated his batting drastically. He is watching the ball well, but he doesn't seem to have the shots.
Immediately, a reader named Mayank sent in this feedback: "You say Jadeja 2009 ... I say Vijay Shankar Nidhas Trophy ... same excessive sweating!!!" Many others wanted to include Yuvraj Singh from the 2014 World T20 final, but that was a batsman in a batsman's role. This was different: primarily a bowler, like Jadeja and Shankar, asked to do a batsman's job.
Neesham to Tewatia, no run, oh the walls seem to be closing in. He tries the sweep off Neesham and is hit on the pad. Doesn't get out, doesn't get off strike. Tewatia 5 off 14
Neesham to Tewatia, 1 run, slower ball, really full, drilled to long-on for one. Tewatia 6 off 15
I know you are debating the retire-out. It is a compassionate move, yes, but not a new debate. Let's focus on the struggle and see what he can do here
Neesham to Tewatia, 1 run, the worst result. he has hit one in air, but there is no power behind it, and long-off is straight enough to keep them to one. Tewatia 7 off 16
Oh Rahul, it is a cruel world
Ravi Bishnoi to Tewatia, 1 run, and the poor guy is trying everything. Reverse hit goes to extra cover for one. Tewatia 8 off 17 It [the required rate] is getting close to three a ball. Cameras panning to the dugout. Awful awful feeling if you are Tewatia
And then he managed one six off Bishnoi, but it seemed too late.
Ravi Bishnoi to Tewatia, SIX, relief. Sweet relief. But he needs more to feel better. Jumps at him, goes down the ground, and gets a straight six
Ravi Bishnoi to Tewatia, no run, oh why the reverse just after hitting one down the ground? Beaten again
At the other end, Samson kept striking. So far in this partnership, Samson had faced 15 balls and Tewatia 20. That was the worst part. Now, after hitting Maxwell for two sixes, Samson took matters into his own hands.
Maxwell to Samson, no run, and now Samson has refused the single. That will make it more awful for Tewatia, but I think he wants to take the toll on Maxwell
Maxwell to Samson, 2 runs, Maxwell goes back of a length, worked behind square for a couple
Important for Samson to communicate to Tewatia
Maxwell to Samson, SIX runs, his batting is communicating to KXIP all right. Maxwell gets into the slot again, and he smashes it over midwicket for six more. That's 20 for the over
Maxwell to Samson, 1 run, drilled down the ground for a single to long-off. A good result if it is not a six. At least he has the strike
That 21-run Maxwell over kept the Royals alive. There were just four overs to go now. Tewatia was still 14 off 21. Samson got out first ball of the next over. This is the feedback we published from a reader, Arun:
"Hey stop blaming Tewatia! There are more Tewatias in real life than Samsons."
Royals needed 51 off the last three overs.
17 an over. You still won't rule a side out in Sharjah with dew around. Rahul you still have a chance to turn this around. Come on, turn this into a fairytale of redemption
And then this happened.
Cottrell to Tewatia, SIX, it is a small six but it is a six nonetheless. Hang in there, Rahul. Keep swinging. Cottrell follows him with a bouncer, but he manages to get inside the line to pull him flat over long leg
Cottrell to Tewatia, SIX, whoa whoa whoa cricket you beauty. You keep fighting, the tide can turn. He gets a short of a length ball, stands his ground and swings to leg. Not off the absolute middle of the bat but enough to clear the short square boundary and onto the road
Cottrell to Tewatia, SIX, make it three times. Sing your redemption songs. Cottrell pitches up, and he goes over wide long-off. Strike rate of 135 now. Game is on
And now KXIP are having conferences
Cottrell to Tewatia, SIX, well, Rahul, what a player. You are a champion. You have fought through the worst of times. Give yourself something to celebrate. Gees across, shuffles early gets a wide low full toss, and sweeps it over midwicket for another flat six
Oh the joy of struggle and redemption. How fortunate to be calling this
Cottrell to Tewatia, no run, goes for the fifth. Slower length ball wide outside off, and he goes across the lines. Beaten
Cottrell to Tewatia, SIX, wow Rahul bloody Tewatia. This is a story for the ages, son. What redemption. Now Uthappa has to give him strike. He has smacked a wide length ball over midwicket for another six. Now only 21 required in two overs
Cricket, lovely cricket. That is all I can say right now
Come on Rahul Tewatia. You have taken us on a roller-coaster. Now finish it off. Hang on, boys and girls and others. [And with Uthappa out] they have promoted Archer now. Uthappa didn't even hand over the strike ...
Mohammed Shami to Archer, SIX, which is just as well because Archer has hit the first ball for six. Short ball, on pace, and Archer loves him some on-pace short bowling. Over wicket for six
Mohammed Shami to Archer, SIX, golf swing. This is a great day at the cricket. Nine off nine now. Amid this euphoria, this is pretty abysmal death bowling, I am sorry. Length ball, in the slot, on pace, and Archer ain't no Uthappa to be chipping it sweetly
Mohammed Shami to Archer, 1 run, goes for the yorker, dug out for a single to deep point
Can do it in singles now. Last 10 balls: 43 runs, one wicket. Rahul Tewatia, you beautiful beautiful cricketer
Mohammed Shami to Tewatia, SIX, oh he has reached fifty. Minutes ago, they were all asking for a compassion dismissal for him. This, right here, is the importance of keeping on fighting. Keep kicking. Short ball, outside off, and he has upper-cut it for a six. Well played, RT
Mohammed Shami to Tewatia, OUT, oh man, the greatest 40 minutes of commentary have come to an end. Tewatia has found deep midwicket with the pull, but he has made sure they win the match. Fifty-three off 31 after everybody wanted him thrown into the Gulf. Take a bloody bow, sir. You are a beautiful beautiful player. Storytellers kill for guys like you.
Now we can breathe. Tewatia is knocking fists with others here. Don't tell to me not get carried away. This is among the greatest days of commentary I have been through. If you have ever backed an underdog, if you have ever felt awful for a guy giving it his best and not getting anywhere, if you have ever been in that situation yourself, this day is such sweet joy.
Let me tell you a story from a Stephen Fleming interview. I told him you should look to pull guys back if they are unable to hit. He didn't like the idea. He said the struggle is the beauty of the game. His exact words: "That's the beauty of it, isn't it? Not let someone get away with it just because they can tap out. 'Not my day today, I am out.'" What words. You have to really love this sport to think like that when you are under so much pressure to win. Guess what, Rahul Tewatia didn't tap out. For all the frustrations of watching Jadeja get stuck in quick sand, and Yuvraj and Vijay Shankar, perhaps it is true that you just don't tap out.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo