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Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) triumphed over perennial favourites the Mumbai Indians (MI) in the opening match of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014. Jacques Kallis was the architect for Kolkata in an easy win. Shiamak Unwalla analyses Kallis’s majestic innings that put the match out of Mumbai’s grasp.
There was something about the way in which Kolkata Knight Riders‘ (KKR’s) Jacques Kallis constructed his innings against the Mumbai Indians (MI) that connoisseurs of the Twenty20 (T20) game would find wholly bizarre. After all, T20 cricket was actually to be a young man’s game, and not just any young men either. There was not supposed to be any place in T20s for technically sound players like Virat Kohli or Ajinkya Rahane. This was a format meant for the Kieron Pollards and Yusuf Pathans of the world to reign supreme.
And yet, here was a man who had recently retired from Test cricket and who had been known for the better part of his career as a steady (that’s just a euphemism for slow) batsman, scoring 72 off just 46 balls. What stood out about Kallis’s innings was the way in which he paced himself. This was the first match of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014, and he was opening the innings, so he took his time to settle in. At one point, he had faced only nine balls in the first seven overs. But Kallis didn’t let any of this faze him. He went about his job in a quietly professional manner that one would usually associate more with the calm subtlety of Test cricket.
Almost unnoticed, he made his way to a moderate 34 off 31 balls. At around this point, Kallis decided that he had seen enough of Pragyan Ojha and company, and that it was time to remind people why he is considered a modern legend. It was almost like flipping a switch. Unfortunately for Ojha, his was the over that Kallis chose to stamp his authority. Then six balls and 19 runs later, Kallis had crossed 50. From going at almost a run-a-ball to scoring 38 off the last 15 deliveries he faced, Kallis showed how the perfect innings was played, never mind if it’s a 20-over match or a five-day one.
Kallis mixed conventional sweep shots with slog-sweeps to devastating effect against the spinners. Against the medium-pace of Pollard he either went over mid-wicket or used the big West Indian’s line and length against him to place balls with the precision of a surgeon. Against the pace of Zaheer Khan and Lasith Malinga, he used the pull shot to good effect. Kallis was dropped early on in his innings by Malinga, but that served as a wake-up call for him. His innings was chanceless after that till the time he finally got out to a terrific catch in the deep by Corey Anderson.
The South African had walked out to bat in a competitive cricket match for the first time since his retirement in December last year. Watching him bat, one would think he was with the Proteas that reached the semi-finals of the ICC World T20 2014 in Bangladesh. A testament, perhaps, to the breed of batsmanship that was not expected to work in T20s.
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