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IPL 2019 | Kane Williamson & Shimron Hetmyer — Tale of Contrasting Half-centuries

Karthik Lakshmanan |May 5, 2019, 8:58 AM IST
IPL 2019 | Kane Williamson & Shimron Hetmyer — Tale of Contrasting Half-centuries

The Royal Challengers Bangalore - Sunrisers Hyderabad game on Saturday was about two out of form batsmen from either side springing back to life. Captain Kane Williamson for Sunrisers, and Shimron Hetmyer for Bangalore.

The former's unbeaten 43-ball 70 bailed Hyderabad out of trouble and powered them to a competitive total of 175 for 7. Hetmyer then spoilt Williamson's party scoring 75 off 47, powering RCB to a four-wicket win.

Williamson came into the match with just 48 runs from seven matches this season - a massive fall compared to last year where he was the highest run-scorer. He missed matches with injury, struggled with form, and even had to shift down the order as Manish Pandey had grabbed his chances at No. 3. Williamson's patchy form was one of the reasons for Hyderabad's struggles, as they just didn't have enough solidity after David Warner and Jonny Bairstow.

Hetmyer, meanwhile, last played this season more than a month back. Yes, it's been that long! One of RCB's star buys, Hetmyer disappointed with scores of 0, 5, 9 and 1 in his first four matches before being dropped. He was then reduced to serving drinks, and perhaps got a game only because RCB were happy to give everyone chances after being knocked out.

There were plenty of similarities in both the knocks, other than their forms this season. Both came with their teams in trouble; Williamson walked in with SRH 60 for 2, and quickly saw that becoming 61 for 3 in the same over. Hetmyer's situation was even worse - he came in at 18 for 2 when Virat Kohli fell, and saw that become 20 for 3 two runs later, losing AB de Villiers.

The difference, though, was in the intangibles. Williamson's knock was under pressure as they still had a chance to qualify, and a lot depended on his fortune in the middle order. The pressure got the best out of the captain, as he did what he does best.

Unlike Hetmyer later on, Williamson nearly had to do it all alone. The anxiety of setting a big target in the small Chinnaswamy ground was evident in the way the SRH batsmen played - literally every single batsman who got out were trying to force the pace. The only little stand that Williamson had was a 45-run association with Vijay Shankar. That partnership was followed by Yusuf Pathan, Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan falling in quick succession, leaving it all on the captain.

Williamson stood up, doing the little things right. Unlike his peers, he targeted the correct bowlers, hitting Kulwant Khejroliya for two sixes in the 15th over. Constant wickets meant he couldn't quite take the attack from there on, but he turned the heat on Umesh Yadav in the final over, slamming two sixes and two fours in a 28-run over that propelled SRH past 170. Williamson was on 16 off 16 at one stage, before ending with a strike rate above 162.

While Williamson's was a case of thriving under pressure, Hetmyer's knock was all about freedom. Points table, position in the team, getting dropped... Hetmyer had nothing to worry about. And it showed.

While Williamson grafted his way out of trouble, Hetmyer counter-attacked. He targeted Khaleel Ahmed early on, forcing Williamson to turn to Rashid Khan in the fifth over. It was a no-contest in the end, with Hetmyer winning hands down even though Rashid had his man eventually. Hetmyer slammed four sixes in all off Rashid, scoring 32 runs off the legspinner's 15 balls before falling looking for another six.

The other major difference in the two knocks was the support from the other end. Hetmyer had a steady partner in Gurkeerat Singh, who played a silent yet equally crucial knock of 65 (48). The two added 144 for the fourth wicket, taking the game away from Hyderabad. It was the first century stand for RCB not involving Kohli or de Villiers since 2013.

In the tale of two half-centuries, it was the third - by Gurkeerat - that proved to be the difference between the sides.

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