For once, Yuvraj Singh’s face lit up with a smile. He pumped his fists, jumped off his chair in the dugout, hugged his teammates, and waved to Kings XI supporters.
It was an instant reaction to the hard-fought victory his team managed to carve out against Team Hyderabad at the De Beers Diamond Oval on Saturday. A target of 169 achieved with only a ball to spare in a dramatic chase.
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“The pitch is a highway,” the curator here said on the morning of the match. “All the runs that can be scored in 20 overs can be scored right here,” he had insisted. Yet, Yuvraj showed the audacity to opt for fielding at the toss. Was it Brett Lee’s arrival that sparked the confidence?
“Yes, and the wicket won’t change much in the second half of the match,” he said, taking the curator’s contention a step further. “It’s good enough for another 40 overs.”
Andrew Symonds, bolstering the Hyderabad line-up with his arrival, proved both the curator and Yuvraj right. Mahela Jayawardene did the same for Kings XI, only that his effort ended up in a winning cause.
The USP of a tournament like the IPL may be about players jet-setting from one country to another, playing a match, and leaving to play another game for their country. On Saturday, here in Kimberley, Lee’s arrival along with that of Symonds was a preview to what is possible on that front.
Both players airdashed to South Africa on Friday morning, took a flight to Kimberley the same afternoon, attended the meeting in the evening, slept early to shrug off the jet-lag, and performed with gusto.