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Why the onslaught from Pat Cummins should surprise no one

Last updated on 06 Apr 2022 | 07:30 PM
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Why the onslaught from Pat Cummins should surprise no one

Pat Cummins’ 14-ball 50 against Mumbai is a knock that’s been 18 months in the making

If you’re still trying to make sense of what happened at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune, don’t worry. You’re not alone. We’re all in the same boat. 

For 33.1 overs, the wicket at the MCA Stadium looked like a really, really tricky one to bat on. Not even Suryakumar Yadav managed to get going immediately; it took him 15 balls to find his groove. And while Pollard did accumulate 22 runs off the 5 balls he faced, he had plenty of fortune: 12 of the runs he scored came via top-edges. 

But then, in the 14th over of the chase, Pat Cummins walked in. 

And….and…he just…he just smashed 56 off 15 balls and helped Kolkata knock down the target of 162 with 24 balls to spare. Just. Like. That.

“For everyone other than Pat it (pitch) looked tricky,” quipped Venkatesh Iyer, the man who remained unbeaten on 50, at the end of the game. And Iyer was right in every sense of the word. 

Now, we can go on and on and on about the sheer outrageousness and absurdity of the knock Cummins played tonight. Really, taking into account the context of the game, and the nature of the pitch, you can easily classify it as one of the greatest T20 knocks of all time. 

But we’re not going to do that. 

What we’re going to do, instead, is show why this onslaught from Cummins was kinda coming (no pun intended). Prove how, for quite some time now, he’s had it in him to do what he did in Pune tonight. 

Cummins’ post-pandemic transformation with the bat

At the IPL 2022 auction, Pat Cummins listed himself as an all-rounder. And a part of the reason why he went for INR 7.25 crore was because of his batting ability which he showcased in both IPL 2020 and IPL 2021.

Prior to the pandemic, though, Cummins was not what you would call a useful T20 batter. 

In 39 innings, the Australian had averaged just 14.09, but notably had a SR of 124 - a very underwhelming figure for a lower-order batter. Sure, he could hold the bat, but by no means was he an x-factor; he only hit a six once every 18 balls. 

What exactly happened during the pandemic we do not know, and is a topic for later. But post the layoff, he emerged as a completely different batsman. 

In the following 21 innings Cummins’ average rose to 22.67, but crucially, his strike rate shot up to an eye-popping 147.  During this phase he hit a six every 9.7 balls, and played many a breath-taking cameo.

We got a sneak-peek of this ‘new’ Cummins the very first time he batted post the pandemic, in the 2nd T20I against England at the Rose Bowl. Walking in at No.8, with the score 132/6 in the 19th over, Cummins collected 13 off just 5 balls. In one of those five balls, he thumped Jofra Archer straight over long-on for a massive six. 

It was a hit that, back then, did not feel significant, but looking back, it was indeed the start of something special. A special turnaround. 

Cummins’ outrageous evolution vs pace

As noted above, post the pandemic, Cummins’ strike rate shot up from 124 to 147. 

But something even more significant happened — he transformed into a complete beast against pace. 

Pre-pandemic, Cummins was a very average batter against pace, averaging 16.33 while striking at 123.7. He only hit a six once every 25 balls. 

In his last 17 T20 innings prior to the Mumbai clash, though, (essentially post-pandemic), he averaged 25.1 versus pace while striking at an astonishing 178. He smashed 19 sixes in 141 balls, clearing the fence once every 7.4 balls. 

Or, in other words, he was amongst the best in the world when it came to smashing pace.

That’s right. Between Sep 1, 2020, and April 5, 2022, among batters who scored 250 or more runs versus pace, only Andre Russell and Asghar Afghan hit sixes vs pace more frequently than Cummins. Given Afghan rarely faced the best bowlers in the world, it is fair to say that in the said 18-month period, Cummins was essentially the second-best pace destroyer in the entire world, behind only Dre Russ.

Between September 2020 and April 2022, there were countless knocks in which Cummins made a mockery of quick bowling. In the IPL 2020 season against Mumbai in Abu Dhabi, he smashed 33 off 12 balls, a knock in which he deposited Bumrah for four sixes in one over. 

Later that season, in the return fixture against Mumbai, he struck a 36-ball 53, accumulating 41 off 25 balls against the quicker bowlers.

Then, six months later came the knock that helped him establish himself as an all-rounder, the maddening 66 off 34 against Chennai in which he nearly single-handedly took the Knight Riders over the line. That night at the Wankhede, Cummins struck at 216.67 in the 30 balls he faced against pace, smashing a staggering six sixes. 

More recently, in the Super 12 stage of the T20 World Cup against England, he struck a six off his first two balls, both against the express pace of Tymal Mills. 

What happened vs Mumbai?

Obviously, you do not expect any batter to hit a 14-ball 50 on a sticky wicket, let alone a bowling all-rounder, but today, each of the 15 balls Cummins faced at the MCA stadium were pace. 

Not only that, the areas where the Mumbai pacers bowled played right into the Australian’s hands. Literally. 

In the 18 months prior to the game on Wednesday (during the phase in which he turned into a beast against pace) Cummins tonked everything that was either full, or remotely on a good length. 

In Pune, the MI seamers exclusively fed him balls in the slot. 

There was simply no way Cummins was going to miss out. 


At the presentation ceremony, Cummins claimed how he’s the one ‘most surprised’ by the innings he played. Quite the innocent remark, because while what he accomplished was totally preposterous and defied logic, it was, in a way, not fully surprising. For after all, he's spent the last 18 months warning us, the viewers. A knock like this was inevitable.  

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