This is not a format for the niceties. This is a format of the bottom lines. People looking for aesthetics sometimes feel bad for the batsmen more artistically inclined. The cricketers don't. VVS Laxman wouldn't have minded looking ungainly if it got him a 1000 tough Test runs more. They know the bottom lines that matter. This is not a format of the arcs that bats make. It is a format of the runs and the strike-rates.
One of the players at Sunirsers Hyderabad, where Laxman is the mentor, Kane Williamson, is aware of the metrics that matter. He had to sit out five matches before he got a game in. He spent that time standing with captain David Warner at the boundary, exchanging notes, helping him with captaincy. Imagine that luxury, when it gets tight, to have at your disposal one of the smartest cricket brains around.
That contribution doesn't show on the scoreboard, though. So, for the second time out of three, Williamson has gone ahead and outpaced his more illustrious T20 shoo-ins. His strike-rate of 178.26 is the best for Sunrisers this season. Limit it to batsmen who have scored more than150 runs this IPL, Williamson is now behind only Glenn Maxwell in terms of strike-rate.
It might not always hold true because power finds a way to prevail in a format so short, but in Mohali Williamson found a way to score 54 at a strike-rate of 200. He did so without over-hitting a single ball, just timing it, and more importantly placing it. That innings, after the fall of Warner and Dhawan, gave Sunrisers the extra 10-15 runs that gave them the breathing space when it got tight in a defence on a flat pitch and a dewy outfield.
The wow moment
In the 19th over of the innings, Williamson saw the strong off-side field, and his brain told him to go leg side no matter what happened. So even before Ishant Sharma would let the ball go, Williamson would shuffle across, well past him off stump to cover that line. When you move so much in the crease, it is not easy to find a stable base to impart power in your shots, so when Ishant bowled a slower bouncer - after 2, 6, 4, 2 - it seemed there might finally be a dot. Williamson, though, found some kind of ladder and somehow managed to time the hook so well it should have gone for a six over the long square part of the Mohali stadium. It only took some fielding brilliance from Manan Vohra to collect the ball overhead and throw it back in before he fell over the ropes.
Stats that matter
Williamson faced only one dot ball in this innings.
This, in 26 balls, was not Williamson's fastest fifty. He scored one in 25 when he went on to score a hundred for Northern Districts in Raipur in 2014.
What they said
"He is a fantastic player. The way he comes in and starts playing freely and elegantly it is great for us."
David Warner must be glad he has started playing Williamson
"Bit odd to put it that way about a champion like Kane Williamson, but he is emerging as the surprise packet for Sunrisers."
Harsha Bhogle on Twitter