IPL 2020: Rahul Tewatia enjoys moment in spotlight after logic-defying innings for Rajasthan Royals

After extraordinary show in win over Kings XI Punjab, Tewatia back in action on Wednesday against Kolkata Knight Riders

Rahul Tewatia of Rajasthan Royals  bats during match 4 of season 13 of the Dream 11 Indian Premier League (IPL) between Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings held at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates on the 22nd September 2020.
Photo by: Deepak Malik  / Sportzpics for BCCI
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While the adrenaline was still pulsing after Rahul Tewatia’s Sharjah miracle on Sunday night, some people were already playing the role of party-pooper.

The journeyman leg-spinner had just played one of the most bipolar innings in the history of the game to charge Rajasthan Royals’ four-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab.

It defied logic – and yet some observers wanted to apply reason straight away.

“It’s also important to put Tewatia’s performance in perspective,” Sanjay Manjrekar, the former IPL commentator, wrote on social media while the euphoria raged in the Rajasthan dressing room.

“And to do that, I will leave you with a question. Will [Rajasthan] send Tewatia up the order again if they are in a similar situation?”

It is a valid point. Maybe only the Rajasthan captain Steve Smith, coach Andrew McDonald, and director of cricket Zubin Bharucha can say for sure.

Tewatia himself says he has been training for that situation. He will presumably be better off for the experience of the game against Punjab.

But given his troubles in the torturous first half of the innings, it feels like it might be a risk repeating the tactic and hoping for the same again.

“They sent me at No 4, and the only plan was for me to take on the bowlers,” Tewatia said.

“That's been my role ever since we began our camp ahead of the tournament.

“They didn't have to tell me that too much even after that, but I know my role in the side and it's what was expected of me.

“If they were sending me up front, they had that confidence in me. It was also an opportunity to prove myself.

“Even if I get the chance going forward, I'll try giving it my best.”

Such is the flow of matches in the IPL, a player can announce themselves to the world on one night, and be old news by the next time they play.

Even if Tewatia’s fame does end up being fleeting, the memories of that Sunday night in Sharjah will live with him for a lifetime. From figure of ridicule to national hero in the space of five blows in one Sheldon Cottrell over.

He will get a chance again on Wednesday evening, when Rajasthan face Kolkata Knight Riders at the Dubai International Stadium.

The 2020 IPL narrative has already moved on. By Monday night, the spotlight had shifted to the likes of Ishan Kishan and Washington Sundar, as well as those regulars at the top of the bill, Kieron Pollard and AB de Villiers.

They featured in a Super Over in Dubai, after the second tie in the space of the first 10 games of the season.

Would Tewatia fancy himself batting in a Super Over? That might as well be a rhetorical question, given the wave of confidence he is currently riding.

“That’s up to the management,” Tewatia said of the idea of him being given a chance of batting for Rajasthan in a tie-breaker over.

"It depends on the game who has hit runs. But if I get the opportunity, I'll be up for it."
One thing is for sure: Tewatia's teammates are likely to have more trust in them now than they must have done at the start of his innings against Punjab.

The TV commentators were deliberating whether retiring him out was a sensible move.

And Sanju Samson at one point turned down a single in a chase where every run counted, as it meant keeping the strike away from Tewatia.

Samson, though, reasoned that the move was based on sound thinking.

Glenn Maxwell was bowling at the time, and Samson felt he was a better match up for his off-spin than the left-handed Tewatia.

“When you are playing a tournament like IPL or a format like T20, each and every over becomes very important,” Samson said.

“When Maxwell was bowling, being a right-handed batsman and I was striking it really well, I just wanted to face the maximum amount of deliveries as possible from him.

“I was thinking about hitting three to four sixes in those five or six balls. That is why I didn’t take a single.

“With Rahul Tewatia being a left-hander, at that moment of the innings I thought that was the right decision to take.

“I was confident I could hit those sixes.”