Tom Curran braced for more Sharjah mayhem after six-laden opening match

Tom Curran reckons that the opening night of the IPL in Sharjah offered a sign of things to come for bowling attacks in this year’s competition, after the Rajasthan Royals out-muscled the Chennai Super Kings in a bat-dominated contest that featured a record-equalling 33 sixes across the two innings.

Curran himself was subjected to six of those, including three in a row in the final over of the match, as MS Dhoni belatedly turned on the afterburners with the contest already out of his side’s reach.

But, Curran said, given the combination of Sharjah’s short boundaries and the onset of dew in the latter stages of the CSK chase, he was happy to have taken his licks and emerged on the winning side – especially given that his brother Sam was in the opposition ranks.

“It’s going to be tough work throughout the tournament, bowling at Sharjah,” Curran said. “It’s obviously small, but when the dew came in the second innings, it became really, really hard.

“The ball got really, really wet and with the combination of the humidity and how much you end up sweating there, there’s going to be some entertaining high-scoring games. And the toss is going to be crucial as well.”

Curran’s second foray in the IPL comes after an initial stint as a late replacement for KKR in 2018, in which he picked up six wickets in five matches, but at an economy rate of nearly two a ball.

This time around, however, his burgeoning reputation as a death bowler – for Surrey and Sydney Sixers as well as England – persuaded the Royals to shell out INR 1 crore (USD140,000 approx) at last year’s auction. And while his skills weren’t exactly tested on Tuesday night, given that he was defending 38 in the final over of the match, the experience was valuable nonetheless, given that the Royals’ next match, against the King’s XI Punjab, takes place at the same venue on Sunday night.

“It was frustrating to go for those sixes but, at the same time, with a wet ball like that, the main thing was to not bowl a no-ball and make sure we win the game,” Curran said. “If I start trying to nail my yorkers and the ball slips out, and I bowl a flat one that goes for six, it just brings them back into the game.

“The pressure isn’t off but it kind of is, if you know what I mean,” he added. “It’s nice that we’d won the game but, as a bowler, to run up there at one of the most destructive batters in the world, it’s not the nicest situation. It’s one of those things really. It’s about adapting on the night really, and trying to get the job done for the team, which is what we did as an attack very nicely last night.”

As a bowler who relies on sleight of hand more than outright pace, however, Curran recognises that he won’t be able to shelve his variations indefinitely in such conditions.

“As the tournament goes on, it’ll be about practising with a wet ball and just trying to make the best out of a bad situation,” he said. “Concentrate on the next ball and try and limit those big, big overs because there’s going to be boundaries, there’s going to be a lot of sixes. It’s about limiting those, I guess.”

If his evening’s work with the ball wasn’t quite as he might have planned, then Curran did at least enjoy a degree of one-upmanship against his brother, whom he withstood in an innings of 10 not out that, with Jofra Archer letting rip at the other end with four consecutive sixes, helped to lift the Royals to an insurmountable total of 216 for 7.

Sam Curran did land some telling blows on the Royals, if not his brother, claiming 3 for 33 with the ball before cracking 17 from six balls after being promoted up the CSK order. “He came out with one intention. And one message, to swing pretty hard,” Tom said. “So unless he got 80-odd, I don’t think I would have bowled to him.

“I wouldn’t say there was any chirping, but there was a bit of banter going into the game, so it was nice that we got a win there,” he added. “But it was a strange feeling, a different type of concentration really, seeing him running up, there were a lot more things on my mind than usual for those first couple, which was strange.”

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Tom’s main scoring shot against Sam was an outside-edged yorker that flew through third man for four, but while he was happy not to have got out to his younger brother, he did rue a missed opportunity to put a more definitive stamp on their mini-battle.

“I’d have liked to put him into the stands for a couple, to be honest! The last ball I faced, he tried to bounce me actually, which was surprising because he had square leg up. I wish I’d stood still because I reckon that was my chance to put him into the stands. But he was getting his yorkers in, so I tried to put him off and walk down the wicket.

“It was good fun. We definitely had a laugh about it afterwards but, like I said, I’d have liked to have put him into the stands. He had a really good game, but we had a win. It’s nice to get a win and hopefully we get another little battle in a couple of weeks when we play them again.”

Watch the Rajasthan Royals take on the King’s XI Punjab on Sky Sports, Sunday, September 27, at 3pm BST

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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