Brad Hodge (52 off 23 balls), the iceman, orchestrated a fine four-wicket win for Rajasthan Royals against Otago Volts in the Group A match of the Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2013 at Sawain Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur on Tuesday.
The feature of Hodge’s batting was the calm demeanour and calculated approach in guiding Royals to a win. He was unperturbed, unruffled on the lookout of big hits. He played his signature drives that almost always beat the field. The low-full tosses were hit with consummate ease that sailed over the ropes. The length balls disappeared. In the blink of an eye the game transformed in favour of Rajasthan. For Hodge, this was akin to a stroll in the park. The final shot was a vintage cover drive for a boundary which maintained Rajasthan’s unbeaten streak at Jaipur.
Ajinkya Rahane exhibited his class by threading the off-side filed with finesse. It all started with the cut between backward point and cover in the first over off Ian Butler. He followed that up with backfoot punch off the final ball which was sublime. James McMillan erred in length bowling a tad too straight to Rahane, who guided the ball past short fine-leg for a boundary. Rahane’s cover drove Neil Wagner for two boundaries off the highest quality.
If Rahane looked in splendid touch Dravid was complete antithesis of it. The Rajasthan skipper was struggling to time the ball and he looked anxious to get the runs thereby playing cross batted shots which were devoid of any timing. In the seventh over he chased a wide delivery off left-arm spinner Nick Beard which was caught by Nathan McCullum at backward point.
Sanju Samson, who has scored two half-centuries in this competition, fell for five trying to run Jimmy Neesham towards third-man. The ball took the inside-edge and hit the stumps. Shane Watson took time to settle. He was tied down by the Otago bowlers which led to his downfall. Watson tried to run Neesham to the third-man area but he was beaten by pace thus edging the delivery to ‘keeper Derek de Boorder. Stuart Binny chased a wide delivery from Wagner which was held by B McCullum at the first slip. At 72 for four in the 13th over, Rajasthan were losing the plot. Rahane was still out there in the middle. Brad Hodge joined Rahane
Rahane dropped the anchor while Hodge pressed onto the accelerator. Hodge, the second highest run-scorer in the history of T20 cricket, took calculated chances and paced his innings wonderfully. Hodge smashed James McMillan for a six and a four off the 15th over thus bringing the equation down to 34 off four overs.
Hodge carted a six off Neesham’s final over that went over long-on in the 17th over to calm the nerves of the dugout. Ten had come off the 17th over, Rahane tried to go over the top of the mid-off fielder but he failed in that pursuit.
The 18th over had produced only four runs of four deliveries. Hodge, the iceman, hit a low full-toss over mid-wicket for a six and final ball was pulled towards square-leg for a boundary to bring the equation down to 10 off two overs.
Faulkner was bolwed for two leaving Royals to get 10 off 10. Kevon Cooper hit two boundaries in the penultimate over to seal the deal.
Iceman Hodge was the man who scripted a fine run-chase. Wonder if the Australian selectors were watching this innings.
(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 Twitter here)