When Rahul Tewatia walked out to bat for Rajasthan Royals against Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League on Sunday, he had a 100-plus strike-rate. He could score only eight runs off the first 19 balls despite a mammoth required rate.
But the situation changed quickly as the 27-year-old sent Sheldon Cottrell on a leather hunt with five sixes. It eventually led to victory for Royals.
Tewatia is already a big hit of this year’s tournament. But this is nothing new. A look at his domestic figures will tell you that he has a T20 strike-rate of 153 runs per 100 balls in 49 matches. And that played a huge role in his batting order promotion.
“Ever since we came here, I knew about my role. I knew what I had to do, when there was an opportunity and I just did that… I had to prove myself and if given a chance, will continue to help my team win matches,” Tewatia said on Tuesday, on the eve of the team’s fixture against Kolkata Knight Riders.
As he looks back at the match against Kings XI, Tewatia agrees that the pressure did mount in the middle overs. “Their spinners like Ravi Bishnoi bowled very well. I was not being able to connect, but we were counting the overs and were hoping that we should get at least one good over — where we can score maximum runs. And there came Cottrell, and we thought we should make the most of it,” the Haryana cricketer said.
Tewatia also credits his state team for helping him grow as a cricketer. Even though he made his First-class debut in 2013, Tewatia has played only seven matches in the longer format, but has gone on to feature in 50 List A and T20s. “We play a lot of home games at Lahli, where we play more medium pacers, so I have played lesser Ranji Trophy matches. But in Mushtaq Ali Trophy and Vijay Hazare Trophy, I play with three international spinners — Yuzvendra Chahal, Jayant Yadav and Amit Mishra. That’s a big boost for me that I play with them. I get the role of all-rounder and help the team achieve success. Haryana has a key role to play in my success,” Tewatia said.
His IPL career began in 2014 with the Royals but he had a quiet season, playing just three games. In 2017, he was bought by Kings XI though he didn’t get an extended run and featured in just three games. Delhi Daredevils bought him in 2018 and he managed to play eight games that season. In 2019, he was traded off to the Royals.
And his heroics on Sunday has boosted the team’s confidence. “I was thinking of getting the team closer to the run rate. Once it clicked, the aim was to go for the maximum. The idea was to hit a few big shots and that worked,” he said.
“This shows the self belief and confidence of all the players in the team. When you are in the winning end in such a high-scoring game, it is really a great thing,” Tewatia said, hoping to have more success in the remainder of the tournament.