'They keep calling me the young Chris Gayle' - it is not difficult to comprehend why three-time champions Mumbai Indians broke the bank to acquire the services of West Indies star Evin Lewis ahead of the eleventh edition of the Indian Premier League in January. Lewis had already announced himself to the Indian audience — first in Florida and then in Jamaica a year later and those two innings played a big role in helping him clinch a big-money IPL contract.
27-year-old Lewis became a household name when he bludgeoned 100 off 49 deliveries against India at Lauderhill in August 2016, merely months after making his T20I debut in Nagpur. The southpaw seems to be on mission to conquer the world with his power-hitting and after impressing one and all back home and now, Lewis is looking to catch the imagination of cricket fans in other cricket-playing nations as well.
"I might end up in the Big Bash and PSL and hopefully next year, please God, the IPL," Lewis was quoted as saying by Cricinfo in September 2017, when he didn't know that something which he so dearly wanted back then, was waiting for him just around the corner.
Make no mistake, Lewis is not someone who will just hit a few out of a park but he is someone who will hit everything out of the park if given a chance, and that makes him perfect for T20 cricket. "I'm enjoying batting with Evin. He has eased the pressure off me so we can dictate the way we go about it — but he won't stop! I can slow down a bit but he won't!" When someone of Gayle's stature says that a player cannot be stopped, it certainly means something.
Lewis is among a select few who hold the record of slamming two centuries in T20Is. In total, he has scored three T20 tons and 20 fifties, which says it all about his ability to play long innings in the shortest format. Mumbai shelled out Rs 3.8 Cr to snatch him away from Sunrisers Hdyerabad's grasp during the auction, and so far it has paid dividends for the team as he has performed well at the top — so much so that even skipper Rohit Sharma is in awe of the hard-hitter.
"...with Evin Lewis batting, anything can happen, he is a great striker of the ball and anything in his area he is going to smash it," exclaimed Rohit after Lewis slammed 65 off 42 deliveries against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Match 14 of IPL 2018.
Lewis has now become a mainstay for West Indies T20I and ODI teams and it is because of his performances in the T20 leagues around the world. From being a dangerous talent, the journey to becoming one of the most sought after batsmen in the world has taken time for Lewis, but it has surely been worth the wait, both for his national team as well the teams whom he represents in such cash-rich leagues.
First Published: May 7, 2018, 2:06 PM IST