IPL 2012: Of Big ‘Ben’ and ‘Steyn’ gun
Ben Hilfenhaus bowled a pitched up delivery on the middle, the ball moved away a bit, could be due to the late swing but it uprooted the off stump, a classic fast bowler’s wicket you would say in a Test match. The Tasmanian ‘Hilfy’ though did it in the IPL. At the WACA during the Border-Gavaskar trophy earlier this year, Sehwag had got a similar delivery – that day he got his bat down a bit late, he edged it to Ponting at slips. But, on May 12, playing the IPL, the ball just evaded Sehwag’s bat and <i>‘Bullseye’ </i>– the off stump went for a walk in the park. <br><br> I being a Delhi Daredevils fan should have been crestfallen by that dismissal, but somehow I had a sense of thrill watching one of the best wicket taking deliveries getting the utmost reward, a fast bowler’s delight -- the off stump uprooted doing the cartwheel with a bewildered look on the most feared T20 exponent. <br><br> ‘Whatay wicket’ I whispered, and the memory of the WACA Test was rekindled in my memory, ‘Big’ Ben Hilfenhaus had got rid of Viru in a similar fashion and well, it was a sense of Déjà vu but the elation was all but the same. As a viewer I was satisfied. <br><br> During the 9th match of the IPL against Mumbai Indians, Dale Steyn sent down an Over which read something like this 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, W. To put it simply it was wicket maiden bowled by the Steyn Gun. But cricketing terminology would do the ultimate injustice to that particular Over, because, as in sports, stats hide a lot more than what they reveal. That Over revealed that the game of cricket, be it the Tests, ODIs or T20s is the ultimate trial of toughness- mental one at that and the approval of technique. And the rugby-player-turned-cricketer Richard Levi faced the stern ‘Steyn’ Test. If you could put a mark for his performance, zero would be the highest you would have given him. <br><br> First two balls, Levi played it out nicely though failed to score a run, third ball – a slower one, Levi was deceived and the ball missed the off stump by a whisker. Fourth ball- a bouncer, big Levi pulled out at the last moment. Fifth ball- slightly short Levi went for the pull, the ball fell short of midwicket. By now the big hitting South African was completely on the back foot, Steyn had dictated Levi’s movement so far. Sixth and the final ball – CRASH BANG AND BYE BYE LEVI!!! The middle stump went for a walk as Steyn produced a picture perfect yorker, Levi stayed rooted to his crease bemused. <br><br> And my reaction?, “that is the Over of the entire IPL so far”. Again it was elation and the sense of satisfaction was pure. Most of the time, we watch a cricket match or a boxing bout or a football fixture for the sheer joy of being in ecstasy, to get exhilarated by that one moment of brilliance. <br><br> I remember watching the 2006 soccer World Cup rooting for the Italians. The Azzurris did win and I was-again to use the same word- satisfied as a spectator, but the ever lasting memory of the final was given to me by Zinedine Zidane, not the headbutt, but his first half penalty when he chipped the ball to score a goal past Buffon. That was the moment of brilliance – though that could have been the worst blunder the magician could have made, yet he went for it and he executed it. That was genius at work and again the moment of brilliance. <br><br> One remembers such moments in sports forever. And that Dale Steyn over and Ben Hilfenhaus wicket are probably the two that I would remember the most from this edition of the IPL. <br><br> Steyn then went on to produce an encore as he yorked the ever tentative Richard Levi first ball again when the two teams met later. A perfect icing on the cake for sure.