In that moment of complete chaos, if one would have told Mayank Agarwal that the chase would come down to this, he would probably have run away. He was there as a player then, he is a skipper now, but the emotions of seeing Rahul Tewatia running away with the game yet again would be exactly similar to what the human civilization has experienced for the longest time - “it is not over till the fat lady sings”.
It was easily one of those days for the cricketing universe to bow down to something incredibly magical and surreal, only to look at it from a perspective of nothingness later. Mayank Agarwal could do nothing much, nor could the team management who has assembled perhaps the most exciting batting bunch in the competition. Their bowling was definitely the weak link but having to defend 19 runs in the last over was well within the ability of an IPL side. Odean Smith was incredibly unlucky to have faced the onslaught on a night Punjab had no business losing.
All of that came together to make Rahul Tewatia’s effort such a wholesome experience. The Sharjah slayer has become a beast of his own doing to ensure the fright of his presence is taken in literal terms. The uniformity and the sheer impact of his versatility landed him in such situations time and again, but it is the lack of fear that has helped him own these moments forever.
In Sharjah, when he batted Sheldon Cottrell out of the stadium for the first time, it was considered a fluke by many. For those observing his career trajectory till then, there was nothing wrong with that assumption. Put any cricketer in that situation and under pressure, and you would see them failing nine out of 10 times. And Tewatia after all is another journeyman cricketer, a true bits and pieces hustler aiming to have his moment under the Sun.
Thus when Gujarat shelled out Rs 9 crore to secure his services despite having many serious holes in their structure, it was taken with a pinch of salt. How would you otherwise make sense of a move that was clearly based on the performance of “one night”?
On Friday night, with half of Mumbai going out partying, Tewatia, however, stood up to prove his naysayers wrong and gave a live demonstration of his magic right at the Brabourne Stadium. That too for the second time this season. It went on to speak about the confidence that Gary Kirsten had in his abilities before making the move. For Tewatia, this was the season to break out of the shadows and become a reliable performer, not just an empowerer of good times. He did just that.
“It feels good when the game is won. There wasn't a lot to think about in the final over, we just had to hit sixes and that's what me and David (Miller) were talking about. I knew (on the last-ball six) that it had gone off the middle of the bat, so it would clear the fence. I did premeditate, felt he (Odean) bowl wide outside off to me, premeditated and it executed well for me,” Tewatia later said.
The game in fact shouldn’t have come to this situation in the first place. With Shubman Gill and B Sai Sudarshan setting up the base for Gujarat, the defense could have been killed a bit earlier but coupled with some terrific effort from Arshdeep Singh and some slow batting from Shubman Gill, Gujarat Kings had conceded the advantage beforehand. Rest remained a big punt on Hardik Pandya and a return against his diminished impact as a batter in the last few seasons.
But what we had seen was not only a calculated assault from Tewatia at the end but also a figurative juxtaposition of how to achieve semblance when you least expect it. That’s why these two sixes would be as impactful to the Tewatia lore as much as the Sharjah knock. If the first knock was about the return no one saw coming, this one was about living upto the own perceived standard. Both were unique and audacious in their own way. Perhaps a tribute to the version of a cricketer who never stops believing on himself.