By Amrut Thobbi
He batted with a lazy elegance which rekindled memories of Inzamam-ul Haq and played cover drives that would have made Stephen Fleming proud. Jesse Ryder demonstrated sublime batsmanship on Saturday night in a thrilling contest that saw Pune Warriors India (PWI) emerge victorious against Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Batting through the innings, Ryder made unbeaten 73 runs that helped the home side cross the finish line in style. Chasing 156 runs, Ryder and Robin Uthappa gave an explosive start to Pune Warriors India. Ryder was later well supported by captain Sourav Ganguly. The two complimented each other while building a crucial partnership. Ryder’s batting approach was sensible which involved finding gaps at regular intervals. The man of the match was an acknowledgement of the worth of his valiant knock.
But life has not been smooth for Ryder. He has had a notorious history of being a problem child for New Zealand Cricket – something he has confessed himself. The Kiwi all-rounder was omitted from the national squad for South Africa tour on disciplinary grounds earlier this year. The exile was to give him time and space to resolve his alcohol-related problems.
Ryder has always showcased two sides to the world. One has been his natural talent that wins matches for his team, and the other is the brash behavior in public that negates the incredible potential he possesses. He displayed that potential in 2011 when he equaled the world record for most number of sixes in a first-class innings. This is the same bloke who earlier in 2008, was fined by the national cricket board for putting his right hand through a glass window during a late-night session at a Christchurch bar. After watching the T20 match against the CSK on Saturday, there is no doubt that if this talented batsman is capable of breaking many batting records instead!
There was never question mark over his potential, but people have been baffled by his repeated misconduct off the field. However the fifth edition if the IPL could prove to be an important in the sea-saw career of Ryder. The Pune Warriors batsman made the right decision to come out of the self-imposed exile as the IPL 2012 would be a perfect platform for him to re-establish himself as a match-winner.
Ryder’s franchise, Pune Warriors India, had earlier withdrawn from the IPL auction owing to differences with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) but later agreed to play following negotiations with cricket’s governing body in India. Both Ryder and the Pune Warriors were perhaps destined to play this season of the IPL irrespective of their respective pasts. Fate, at times, brings two entities together in a strange way to weave fascinating stories.
A sportsman has two opponents on a battlefield – one is the declared opponent that the whole world can see while the other is the one that resides within the sportsman himself. Conquering that inner demon will help the man conquer the world.
(Amrut Thobbi, an engineering graduate now pursuing Masters in journalism, is an ardent cricket fan. His passion for writing inspired him to give up a sales and marketing job, which he does not regret. By writing on cricket, he wants to relive his dream of becoming a cricketer. He has also worked as a freelance writer in education and technology sectors)