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Riyan Parag, Rahul Tewatia and the art of the unbelievable

They had to overcome near-impossible odds to beat Sunrisers Hyderabad and they did it all as if it was always the plan

Alagappan Muthu
Alagappan Muthu
Sometimes you just need swear words. So, borrowing the sentiments of the immortal Eleanor Shellstrop from The Good Place, holy shirt.
They did it again. The Rajasthan Royals stared defeat in the eye, then poked it with a bat and while it was crying out in pain, they just coolly walked away with the win. Holy shirt.
They were 105 in 16 overs. Their time was running out. Their target may as well have been to prove there can be life on Mars. The last recognised batting pair were in the middle. Fork. (Thanks Eleanor!) Jofra Archer was there too. Alright, they had a batsman and two bowling allrounders. That's still not enough resources when the required rate is at 13.5. Plus, these guys will have to take on Rashid Khan. Ho-oly shirt.
The Sunrisers are trying to fill up an over. They turn to Sandeep Sharma. A man who has bowled 51.5 overs in the death. They are banking on his experience. Back when he was in Kings XI Punjab, he used to find the blockhole with almost robotic consistency. It's one of the biggest reasons he will always be around when an IPL comes up. An Indian fast bowler you can trust to close out an innings is rare. Cut to Dubai and he's hit for a six first ball and his over goes for 18 runs. Holy shirt.
Riyan Parag already has the strength to hit a back-of-a-length ball - the hardest variation to line-up on a two-paced pitch - over extra cover for a one-bounce four. He's only 18-years old. He also already has the game sense to know that the bowler would now switch to a fuller length and attack the stumps. When Sharma tried that, Parag just scooped a near yorker for another four. Holy shirt.
"I told Riyan that the wicket was playing slow, as we saw from the outside also, and the deeper we take it, the better our chances," Rahul Tewatia said at the presentation. "Even if we needed 55-60 from the last four overs, we had a chance because we both do power-hitting well."
It's now the 18th over. The activity is more frenzied. The Sunrisers go into team meetings. They have six deliveries of Khan left and they're wondering if he should come on right away or if he should be saved for later. There are still 35 runs to play with. David Warner decides to make them look bigger. Go with his best man now and hope that he gives away as little as possible. The Royals take 14 runs off that over. Holy shirt.
Tewatia says this is why he has been picked. The pinch-hitter who breathes life into dead and buried chases. It's officially a thing now. If his last magnum opus was hitting a fast bowler for five sixes, here he whacked a genius legspinner for three boundaries in a row. Two of them were utterly bonkers, out-of-nowhere, middle of the bat reverse sweeps. And the thing is, it was all part of the plan. Ho-oly shirt.
"I told him (Parag) if you take a single off the first ball, I would take a chance," Tewatia said. "I saw the field [third man and point up], and I thought I could play a reverse sweep with this field. I took a chance on the first two balls, and both connected."
The world may as well be upside down at this point. Khan usually concedes only seven runs an over in the last four of an IPL game. Tewatia took him for twice that and instantly made himself a lightning rod for the Sunrisers' frustration. Khaleel Ahmed began mouthing off. Tewatia wouldn't care for it and expressed as much in the most menacing way possible - by, uhm, wagging his finger. The umpire still had to come in to separate them. And that incident, more than anything else, highlighted how the Royals had turned from no-hopers to match-winners, all in the blink of an eye, for the second time in two weeks, with the same man doing impossible things.
Sometimes you just need swear words because holy shirt!

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo