In a chase of 163 against Delhi Capitals, Gujarat Titans were in trouble after losing openers and captain Hardik Pandya in power-play. But young left-handed batter B Sai Sudharsan stepped up to anchor the chase with an impressive 62 not out off 48 balls and take his team to a six-wicket victory on Tuesday.
Sudharsan was the fulcrum of Gujarat’s chase, sharing a stand of 53 for the fourth wicket with Vijay Shankar and an unbeaten partnership of 56 with David Miller for the fifth wicket to lead Gujarat to the top of the points table.
The most breathtaking shot off his bat was a scooped six off a 144-kmph full delivery from Anrich Nortje coming from round the wicket. Sudharsan had shuffled a long way and then got low to scoop Nortje off the middle of the bat. That shot from the 21-year-old Sudharsan surprised M Venkataramana, the former Tamil Nadu head coach.
“He’s definitely got a lot of time. He’s not someone who gets bogged down, he’s a very busy player. He’s got a good range of shots, easily plays against pacers at 130-140 kph speeds, and can play on both sides of the wicket. Even the scoop he played (against Nortje) surprised me a bit,” Venkataramana told Media.
“My reading says that he began to pull balls above 145 kph every time (must have propelled it) and it must have been hard to hit unless it’s clearly in the spot. It is the intelligence of Sai that was behind that shot’s execution. He used the pace of the ball to scoop it behind the wicket, and in that knock, he showed a lot of maturities and good game sense is what I say,” he added,
What stood out from Sudharsan’s unbeaten 62 was the execution of his shots and soaking in the pressure to emerge as the player of the match. The left-hander got his fifty in 44 balls with a delightful ramp off Nortje for four in the 17th over, followed by a massive swiveled six over fine leg.
“To come and do what he’s done in the last two games is very encouraging for the team. He is a seriously talented player and we need him in the squad. It’s nice to see him do really well. Pretty happy with his performance and it’s great to see him get the Man of the Match award,” said Miller on Sudharsan in the post-match press conference.
Venkataramana, under whom the left-handed batter had entered the Tamil Nadu state team in all forms of domestic cricket, credits the terrific work ethic of Sudharsan as well as the importance given to fitness in having a terrific domestic season, which was reflected in his knock against the Capitals at the Arun Jaitley Stadium.
“Basically, he’s got a very good work ethic. That is one good thing, and he keeps hitting the ball and working on his fitness. His mother and father were athletes, so he’s brought up and looked after very well, as well as being educated on the importance of fitness,” he said.
“Basically, he’s a very dynamic player who works very hard on his batting. He’s done well this year, as he’s put in a lot of effort in the nets, especially in honing his technique. There’s still a lot of work there to be done, but he’s got a lot of capabilities,” he added.
In IPL 2022, Sudharsan shined briefly before being sidelined halfway. But in IPL 2023, with the number three spot vacant due to a knee injury to Kane Williamson, Sudharsan immediately seized his chance to make the spot his. Hence, it wasn’t a surprise that skipper Hardik Pandya sees the potential in him to be a future India player.
“He (Sai Sudharsan) has been batting terrifically. Credit to the support staff and to him as well. The amount of batting he’s done in the last 15 days, all the result you see is all his hard work. Going forward, if I’m not wrong, in two years, he’ll do something great for franchise cricket and eventually for India,” said Pandya.