On April 19, 2012 India was testing the launch of Agni-V missile — a long-range missile in Bhubaneshwar. In the national capital of India, on the same day and month, another missile was launched — the Kevin Pietersen missile. The South African-born Englishman demolished the Deccan Chargers with an electrifying century, doting the skies over Feroz Shah Kotla with some spectacular big hitting. Sarang Bhalerao goes into the flashback mode.
Kevin Pietersen is an impact player. His breathtaking performance as a batsman makes the world stop and take notice of him as it did on this day.
For the 2012 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Delhi Daredevils spent USD 650,000 to get him on board. He was not even available for the entire season. Yet, he made an immediate bearing with his adrenaline-charged performances.
Deccan Chargers put 157 on the board on a slow Kotla track. Delhi had the arsenal to score the runs without any jitters, but cricket is a funny game. The kings of the game become commoners in no time and the road towards development has an obfuscating route as Delhi discovered.
Delhi lost Naman Ojha, Virender Sehwag and Mahela Jayawardene inside five overs. Pietersen was biding his time. The star batsman exuded confidence with his assured footwork, though he was dropped on six by Bharat Chipli in the fourth over. It was a day when Pietersen proved what an astute tactician he was.
He attacked Amit Mishra straight away. He smashed the leg-spinner for two sixes — one over his head and another inside-out. On a slow track, Mishra would have been handful. But after a 17-run pounding, the bowler was low on confidence.
Delhi lost Ross Taylor for 13 and now it was becoming increasingly clear that for Delhi to win Pietersen had to guide them home. It was Deccan Chargers vs Pietersen.
Pietersen launched an array of vintage shots in the 13th over of the innings. JP Duminy didn’t help his cause by dishing out a couple of full tosses. It resulted in two sixes.The next delivery sailed into the stands and crashed against the sightscreen. Duminy dropped Pietersen off the final ball — a cardinal sin considering the kind of form the batsman was in.
The fifth-wicket partnership between Pietersen and Irfan Pathan yielded 49 runs. — the latter’s contribution being just five. Pietersen was going great guns. He cleverly played out the over of Chargers’ fast bowler Dale Steyn and sustained his rampage against the others.
Mishra suffered again when he was deposited out of the ground by Pietersen. Batting on 94, Pietersen was reprieved by Deccan skipper Kumar Sangakkara. By that time damage had already been done.
In the last over Delhi needed two to win and Pietersen was batting on 97. The first ball bowled by left-arm spinner Ankit Sharma was hit straight back over his head for a six. Pietersen raised his arms. Mission accomplished!
Pietersen rated this innings as his best effort-ever in his T20 career. “It’s my first hundred in T20 cricket, so it’s my favourite. I hit one [six] on the top terrace which was good. It’s amazing, you look at guys that get T20 centuries and you envy them. It’s something that I hadn’t done yet, I’ve got Test centuries, ODI centuries and now a T20 century. Although it’s the IPL and not an international T20, it’s still a special feeling,” Pietersen said.
It was a day when Pietersen made the pugnaciousness look pretty. And Deccan Chargers, his erstwhile franchise, learnt it the hard way. And dropping Pietersen thrice may be the Chargers were planning a short 40-minute ride to the Ganges to wash their sins.
Brief scores: Deccan Chargers 157 for 8 in 20 overs (Parthiv Patel 45*; Shahbaz Nadeem 3 for 16) lost to Delhi Daredevils 162 for 5 in 19.1 overs (Kevin Pietersen 103*; Dale Steyn 2 for 19) by 5 wickets.
(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with his knowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitterhere)