In T20 cricket, one ball can change the course of the match. This is exactly what transpired in the clash between Cape Cobras and Hobart Hurricanes on Sunday at Uppal in Hyderabad. The Cobras seemed set to clinch the match having put up an impressive score on the board. But, one poor over from Vernon Philander completely changed things turned around. He had dismissed eventual hero Aiden Blizzard, but on review it turned out to be a no-ball, and what transpired was as good as unbelievable as Blizzard, true to his name, shocked the Cobras with some sensational batting.
Philander may have come up with some spectacular efforts in his impressive Test career, but his talent was found out in the T20 format. Philander was bowling decently till he bowled that no ball, after that he just completely lost it. It was rather surprising that, in spite of his experience, he could not keep the Hurricanes at bay. The free-hit delivery went for a six, and it seemed that Philander had mentally given up the game. His next few deliveries were all length balls, and Blizzard had it all easy as he took the Hurricanes closer to an improbable victory.
The game-changing Philander over not only put the fast bowler under immense pressure, but also upset the rhythm of the entire side. The match was very much under Hurricanes’ control after Philander’s disastrous over, but the Cobras would still have been hoping for something miraculous from Charl Langeveldt, one of their best bowlers in the game till then. Langeveldt had conceded only 6 runs from the 17th over following which Hurricanes needed 44 from 18 balls. By the time, he returned for his next over, they needed only 20 from 12, and Langeveldt conceded three sixes in the over to end Cobras’ misery.
While Hurricanes were lucky to have gotten the Philander over, Blizzard also deserves a lot of credit for the composed manner in which he went about his innings. There was a long phase during the innings when he struggled to hit the fours. In fact, he was on only 36 off 31 balls at the end of the 15th over. The run rate was spiralling out of control, and it wouldn’t have been surprising had he given up hope. Credibly, he stuck around, and smashed 42 from his next 17 balls. The statistic is amazing in itself even for a T20 game.
Blizzard was undoubtedly the hero of the game, but a couple of other performances also deserve a mention. In a big chase, an opener’s showing is crucial, and this where Ben Dunk was so good. He hit 10 super fours in 34 balls during his impressive half-century that ensured Hurricanes were in the hunt at the halfway stage. In the bowling department, Ben Laughlin performed very well, ending with figures of 2 for 31 even as most others were taken to the cleaners. In the end, Hurricanes’ self-belief, in particular Blizzard’s, took them through to an audacious triumph.
--By A Cricket Analyst