When the chips are down and the pressure is on, there’s little prospect of a 20-year-old defending four runs in a thriller and walking away with “Player of the Match” in arguably the most popular T20 league.
Teenage tearaway Kartik Tyagi, with a run-up similar to Brett Lee, was smiling from ear to ear on an eventful Tuesday night, having pulled Rajasthan Royals off an incredible two-run victory and holding his nerves at the death.
While Punjab Kings yet again made a mess in the final over, Tyagi proved his mettle in the death overs. He plucked the wickets of Nicholas Pooran (32) and Deepak Hooda (0) and gave away only one run in his over, leaving KL Rahul and Anil Kumble in utter disbelief.
Tyagi, who was India’s leading pacer in this year’s U-19 World Cup, was all about speed until he found the perfect “spot”, perhaps while watching the best bowlers in business in the nets. He was a part of the touring camp that recorded a historic series win Down Under earlier this year.
While Tyagi didn’t break into the Playing XI, rubbing shoulders with members of the Indian Test contingent seems to have paid rich dividends. The final over, in fact, was Tyagi’s redemption — disguised in inch-perfect yorkers and steely nerves — after enduring a mundane IPL stint last year and missing the first leg this year owing to injury.
A raw talent with sheer pace, Kartik got rid of Quinton de Kock as his first IPL wicket last season before finishing the tournament with mediocre death overs figures. He conceded 137 runs in 13.1 overs at the death; and with an economy rate of 10.41, the speedster was only behind Tom Curran (12.49) in the Royals camp. Overall, he was 17th in terms of economy.
“I have been talking to seniors over the years and they keep telling me that things keep changing in this format, so I need to keep believing,” Tyagi, who hails from Harpur, Uttar Pradesh, said at the post-match press conference.
“I was bowling a bit too short earlier, later worked on it consciously after getting a lot of feedback,” he further added about his last-over heroics.
Tyagi and Mustafizur Rahman worked in tandem, giving away only five runs in the last 12 deliveries as the momentum swayed in Rajasthan’s favour, making Kumar Sangakkara dash towards the field at the end, with tranquillity written all over his face.
A nerve-jangler that made Tyagi a household name within minutes saw him repay the faith reposed in him by skipper Sanju Samson, who underlined the power of “belief”. “It’s funny that we kept believing (that we could win). I kept the overs of Mustafizur and Tyagi for the end, believing,” he said after the contest.
Tyagi had remembered his father after dismissing de Kock for the first IPL wicket. Now, almost a year later, the paceman has got an indelible memory and a moment he’ll forever cherish.