A dream Powerplay spell and 4 wickets between them - Prasidh Krishna and Trent Boult lit up the Royals’ season opener with a fast bowling masterclass to savour.
At the heart of our resounding victory against the Sunrisers Hyderabad were two Royals debutants, each bringing their A-game to the fore and relishing their first taste of success in Pink. Prasidh Krishna and Trent Boult looked like brothers in arms, on a mission - relentless with their skill and accuracy, stifling the opponent until they gave up. It was as if they’ve been doing this together for a while.
Watching the duo bowl the first 6 overs in tandem felt like we were being treated to a gripping first-day morning session of a Test match, only under lights and with the white ball. The batters were tentative, the fast bowlers had their tails up with slips in place, the ball was moving, and there was the corridor of uncertainty waiting to be exploited.
There’s a sense of calm satisfaction around Prasidh as he looks back on this victorious night. It’s a smile that is quietly soaking in the fruition of his hard work, the satisfaction of delivering a match-winning performance, and the excitement of being able to do it alongside one of the world’s best new-ball bowlers. Back home, his family and friends shared the same excitement.
“Honestly, I was looking forward to working with Boulty (Trent Boult) as soon as the auctions were done. It is exciting to have the highest wicket-taker in Powerplays bowling with you. We’ve had conversations around how we can prepare, what we can do, and a lot of other tactical things. It’s good to start off this partnership in the right way,” said Prasidh on his new-ball pairing with the Kiwi.
“Everybody was happy, I had messages coming in. I called up home the next morning and they all said they were very happy to see me in new colours. Everyone was saying it was a good start and that we have a very good team,” he added.
Prasidh’s mantra was simple - observe the conditions and adapt to them. A quick word with Jos Buttler after the opener’s dismissal helped him understand the nature of the pitch further. With his raw pace and a tall frame that allowed for a high release point, he then went on to relentlessly target the good length areas that were difficult to hit, as suggested by Jos.
Boult, Prasidh’s new-ball partner, started off by doing what he does best. Brewing the perfect concoction of swing and seam, he pushed the batters on to the backfoot even before they could prepare to attack. The first over of the innings, delivered by him, drew quite a few oohs and aahs from the crowd and straightaway put some early pressure on the SRH batters. Wickets were lurking around. The Royals were closing in. You could feel the heat even from the stands.
From the other end, Prasidh was waiting to unleash fury, flooded by memories of the last time he played here. It was at this ground that he made his ODI debut exactly a year ago. India were hosting England for a 3-match series and Prasidh was handed his Team India cap in the first ODI. It was a debut to remember for the youngster, who impressed with a four-wicket haul that included big scalps of Jason Roy and Ben Stokes.
Here he was, once again, this time for a debut in Pink. Steaming in for his first over, Prasidh quickly bowled a couple of probing lengths to opener Abhishek Sharma, making it difficult for him to get off the mark. Sharma somehow managed to sneak a single off the next ball, bringing a watchful yet uncertain Williamson back on strike. The iron was hot, it was time for Prasidh to strike. Taking out dangerous, world-class batters with nagging lengths - he had done this before.
His very first ball to Williamson did the trick - a 136.5 kph delivery coming in to the Sunrisers skipper pitched and straightened, squaring him up and drawing the edge much to his surprise. The ball popped out of Samson’s diving hands, only for Padikkal to complete the catch at first slip. It was just the start Prasidh would’ve hoped for before the game, and it was what he got. His journey at the Royals had begun.
Prasidh went one better in his second over. He sent Rahul Tripathi packing for a duck on the very first ball, and didn’t give away a single run in the remaining five deliveries. He then followed it up with a 1-run over to end a phenomenal Powerplay, pushing the deflated Sunrisers further against the wall. His maiden outing ended with impressive figures of 2/16, which would’ve put a huge smile on the face of Fast Bowling Coach, Lasith Malinga.
In Malinga, the Royals have a champion cricketing brain backed by years of experience of performing in high-pressure situations, particularly in the IPL. His presence in the Royals camp has bolstered the players’ confidence in a unique way, including Prasidh, who has been spending valuable time with the veteran in the nets.
“He (Malinga) has kept things very simple with us, talking about how we can simplify things and not complicate them, because that’s what we want as fast bowlers - have lesser things to think about. He has made a huge difference to the whole bowling unit, with everyone working harder towards one particular goal. Personally for me, we’ve narrowed down on a few things that we’re working on,” says Prasidh.
With the effective left-right combination of Prasidh and Boult, the Royals’ new-ball responsibilities are well taken care of. But it is the depth and variety in our bowling unit and the ability to win matches that inspires Prasidh to a whole new level of confidence.
“We have a really, really high-potential unit and I think anybody, on that given day, is capable of doing good and winning games for the Royals. I think that’s a very exciting thing and gives so much confidence when you know you have such good bowlers bowling with you.”
Here’s hoping the fast bowling magic of Skiddy and Boulty continues to entertain us with plenty of wickets and frequent entries in the ‘W’ column on the points table.