Avesh Khan took full advantage of the swinging new ball to dismiss Faf du Plessis, before leaving MS Dhoni in two minds with a beauty.
If you were making a Fantasy XI side for the match between Delhi Capitals (DC) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK), you would probably be starved of points by the time you reached the bowlers. Even then, Avesh Khan would not have been one you would have chosen over an Ishant Sharma or an Umesh Yadav. Nobody could have expected a young man from Madhya Pradesh would send two internationally acclaimed batsmen to the dressing room. One of them being none other MS Dhoni. And the best part? He did not let either score a single run. Dhoni was dismissed for a duck for only the fourth time in his IPL career.
The post-game focus will probably be on Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Suresh Raina, or even MS Dhoni departing for nought. But what about the lightning-fast delivery that outsmarted Dhoni? What about the bowler who dismissed two superstars of the game? One might call Avesh’s selection a gamble, much like so many Dhoni has taken, and successfully. Who can forget the 2007 T20 world cup final?
But was it really a gamble or did Avesh already have what it takes? If one takes a look at his stats, they would know why Rishabh Pant might have chosen him. Avesh has taken 100 first-class wickets and his best bowling figures in an innings is 7/24. In T20s, he has accounted for 32 wickets in 27 games with a best of 5/17. The numbers do not lie, and they suggest that India might have a golden boy on their hands.
Keeping quality aside, look at the youngster’s confidence and composure under pressure. Not only did he have to contend with his side not having their two premium fast bowlers in Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje, but also shouldered the pressure of getting selected ahead of senior bowlers like Ishant and Umesh.
The deliveries he bowled to dismiss Faf and MS were not fluke deliveries. They weren’t forced to walk back because of their mistakes. They were two top-quality balls that deserved wickets. And wickets are not Avesh’s only forte. He dried up the Chennai innings. His economy was below 6. That stat is unbelievable for veteran bowlers, let alone a debutante. His numbers were 2/23 in four overs.
Bowling aside, the young pacer did have a rather controversial moment on the field. Suresh Raina was in a rich vein of form and seemed invincible. Avesh was the bowler. Raina was at the non-striker’s end and Jadeja faced the delivery which he hit and later called for two. The first run was comfortable.
Raina was off for the second the moment his bat touched the striker’s crease, and Jadeja was as well. What the Chennai all-rounder saw in his path was Avesh’s frame which abruptly stopped his momentum. Raina, however, could not react quick enough with Rishabh Pant executing one of the most comfortable run outs of his entire career.
What would be a real shame is if this particular incident is what we choose to remember of Avesh, rather than his impressive bowling performance. He, however, would not be thinking about it one bit, not when you have successfully halted two of the most explosive batsmen in world cricket from scoring a single run.
What fans will now be looking forward to will be Avesh’s future performances. Was this a one-hit-wonder like so many before him, or can this boy grab the limelight and run with it like a Jasprit Bumrah or a Yuzvendra Chahal? Either way, what the boy will get at the moment is praise, and he deserves every bit of it.