Ecstasy, agony for Duminy
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town - Proteas favourite JP Duminy rather showed up the folly of his “bench” status in the Indian Premier League thus far as he finally started his own campaign for the Deccan Chargers with a bang on Tuesday.
The diminutive left-hander has been idle in the early stages of IPL 2012, with the Chargers’ Australian coach Darren Lehmann preferring, it seemed, to field compatriot Cameron White for the first two matches.
But the latter made way for the Cape Cobras stalwart for the game against the high-riding Rajasthan Royals at Jaipur ... and Duminy promptly made a big statement by lashing an unbeaten 58 off just 26 balls at a strike rate of 223.
The innings helped power the Chargers -- yet to win although they have played considerably fewer matches thus far than the other teams – to what ought to have been an impregnable 196 for two.
But they then had a ropey old day for both bowling and fielding, with Duminy’s South African team-mate Dale Steyn experiencing a rare personal nightmare as the Royals romped home by five wickets to go top of the table.
The strike weapon had started the tournament in blistering style, including a sizzling over of unrelenting hostility to Richard Levi last time out that has entered IPL folklore, but on Tuesday both his line and length proved erratic despite his customary zeal to make a difference.
Where the Phalaborwa Express had previously returned exemplary figures of three for 12 in a completed four overs against Mumbai Indians, here he suffered a contrasting 3.4-0-44-0 as he could not defend 11 runs required by the Royals in the last over of the game.
He had also given the opponents a crucial “sniff”, from a position where they certainly seemed second favourites, by conceding four boundaries off as many balls to veteran right-hander Brad Hodge in his third over.
So Duminy would have ended up harbouring bittersweet feelings about the match, having more than done his bit earlier to try to set up a winning platform.
He only got to the crease as late as the 14th over, and was not immediately allowed to get into boundary mode as another Proteas colleague at international level, wily off-spinner Johan Botha, initially limited him to nudging a few singles.
But Duminy is one of those class acts in limited-overs cricket who does not easily get anxious or bogged down, and soon he was upping the tempo in a very meaningful way.
He struck five sixes en route as he warmed increasingly to his task, including some near-effortless straight drives off well-pitched deliveries that barely seemed to deserve that treatment.
Duminy is also the type of player who does not linger too lavishly in his follow-through to “admire” his own handiwork, as some stroke-players almost arrogantly do.
So in an unheralded way he is brutally efficient, without always getting the oohs and aahs reserved for, say, a Chris Gayle or Kevin Pietersen, and before you know it he has played a veritable tornado of a knock.
Despite the Chargers’ ongoing basement woes, you would at least think Duminy will be desperately hard to dislodge from Lehmann’s on-day XI now ...