“Most of Australia hates me. No doubt I’ve had a lot of opportunities and I haven’t succeeded, but I hope they will be able to respect me for the fact that I keep coming back … I hope to win them one day.”
When you’ve been prone to injuries like Marsh was, you play like every game might be your last. Do you remember the first IPL 2020 game? Hobbling Marsh, who was one of the big signatures for Sunrisers Hyderabad, had to leave the tournament due to a “mid- to high-grade syndesmosis injury” of his right ankle and saw his season in smoke.
This was not a final, but the stakes were still high. Delhi Capitals, his third IPL franchise, has surpassed Sunrisers, his former team, and new entrants to the Gujarat Titans to provide its services of INR 6.5 million (approximately $ 866,000) for just such magic. The chase for 161 slow pitches was not a walk in the park for a team that had to win to maintain its hopes in the playoffs.
He then fell into the baton when the first wicket fell in the first over. The scoreboard did not move for the next two, as Rajasthan Royals, perhaps the best bowling attack in the competition, kept coming to him. Marsh’s season – not to mention his entire team – was to be defined by passing the game in the next 90 minutes.
At first he was at sea when Prasidh Krishna tested him with heavy lengths. The inner edges rolled off the pads, the outer swingers rushed past the outer edge, the cutting blows went nowhere, playing and missing out on deliveries that picked up – it was all happening. But Marsh didn’t look upset, even after he played the girl.
“If you look at the powerplay tonight for both teams,” Marsh said later, “the ball rocked around, also nibbling, probably one of the hardest powerplays I’ve hit since I started playing T20 cricket.” We just had to get through it unscathed. If we lose two or three, the game becomes very difficult. Therefore, we estimated that we have to reduce our races and ensure that at the end of the power play we are left with only one.
“It is a great honor for them [Royals], they bowled us extremely well in powerplay and made it really tough, but chasing 160, you just need that one big partnership and that was our main focus. For the past 18 months, I’ve loved bat with Davey [Warner]. He opens, and I hit in three, we had great partnerships. Tonight was unforgettable for the Delhi Capitals. “
Marsh made the plan sound simple, but it took a lot of work, starting with a change of attitude. Usually, he hits the stump and then moves the moment the ball is delivered. But that left him wide open to Bult’s insingers. So he took the guard just a little outside the stump. Now he could keep his natural trigger movement and not worry about lbw.
R Ashwin came in for the next over. Marsh saw enough. Prolonged deliveries to the field caused discomfort to the strikers. He knew it because it was his mode of operation earlier in the night – mixed with cutters and slower – to pick up two massive doors. At the first sign of something full, Marsh opened his shoulders and crushed Ashwin for six over a long pause. He picked a ball of carrot from his hand and went upside down. It came as a huge relief. The first shot with Warner after the shot, which he stood and admired on the huge screen, said how much he enjoyed it. It was the beginning of the ultimate magic of hitting.
Marsh had control even without really imposing himself. He played to his strength instead of trying to outwit the bowler or guess what was coming. It was just a simple and clean punch resulting from early length selection – and turning. He must have been helped by hitting with a great friend. Warner was with him at the other end of that glorious night in Dubai. And he was with him again, just turning the knock so he could sit and watch from the best spot in the house.
As if to thank you, Marsh provided a powerful exhibition. The two sixes hit by Kuldeep Sen in the seventh contest – dead straight and over the crosshairs – were right out of the top drawer, by then he was rushing to 39 of 28, even while Warner was a run-a-ball 12 Six who brought his the fiftieth as he took Chahal was a sign of complete mastery of his blow. From there it was a cruise.
“As for the way he does it, he’s someone I’ve looked up to for a long time,” Marsh said of Warner. I was very lucky, in the last 18 months, to be able to hit him a lot and create a great partnership and great friendship. The friendly side of things comes to light in the middle of the game. His experience, calmness – you can all see how much he likes to win. that he went back to where it all started for him. He was super consistent this year, I love hitting with him. “
Marsh couldn’t finish the job, but by the time he was fired in the 18th, he had made 89 out of 63 and taken the Capitalists to the doorstep. As he returned, absorbing applause, he served a silent reminder, something he had had to do throughout his career. That it should not be counted. Not now, not in the next few years. At 30, the possibilities are endless.
Shashank Kishore is a senior contributor to ESPNcricinfo