Rachin Ravindra lights up the World Cup with panache
There is plenty to like about Rachin Ravindra, along with his famous name. There is a sense of calmness, panache and obvious talent even when he defends a ball with conviction. Adam Zampa realised it in his third over in Dharamsala.
It had just a fraction extra width, but Ravindra went off the back foot swiftly and cut it meticulously late enough with perfect placement to beat Josh Hazlewood behind square. There was nothing shoddy about that delivery. Rachin’s class did everything, even when he wasn’t as fluent in the innings before this boundary.
His boundary strokes are caulked with so much grace that it’s bewildering to pinpoint one particular. And he has already played plenty in six games this tournament.
While facing spinners, Ravindra waits while playing the shots square of the wicket, piercing the gap adequately and using the feet adeptly to power down the ground. There is so much clarity in all those shots, and the technique is too robust to believe he is a non-sub-continent batter aged 23. Even the talented ones coming through can’t boast of being as compact.
Ravindra is even more eye-pleasing against pacers. A fairly high backlift, precise weight transfer and a stable base help him thrash the shorter-length deliveries in front of the square, towards midwicket and down the ground. He generates so much power in his shots, and the bat speed is quicker than light.
His areas of boundaries paint a clear picture. Ravindra never pre-mediates his strokes, but his ability to pick lengths and pace so early enables him to target his areas and impart ample intensity in his shots. Chris Woakes would agree, for he was on the receiving end in the opener.
Rachin picked his slower one before it was even delivered and muscled over Woakes’ head for a neat maximum. He played a similar stroke off Pat Cummins, who bowled an off-pace in the slot. Ravindra waited for it, again indicating he gauged it immediately and worked it through the line for a six.
The way he presents the full face of his blade in every strike illustrates his confidence. It also acts as a mirror for the bowlers to glare at their perplexed faces after being taken aback by a world-class talent lighting up the World Cup stage in his maiden attempt.
He seems to be going too hard on his shots at times, but even while doing it, Ravindra somehow makes sure to put them away from the fielders. It could have been termed a one-off had he done it once or twice. Rachin does it consistently and places the ball wide of the men patrolling the area.
It was fitting he reached his fifty with a maximum off a pacer, Mitchell Starc, and the century with a six off a spinner, Glenn Maxwell. Starc got a tad too straight with his line, and Ravindra just got inside and placed it wide of fine leg. He slog-swept Glenn Maxwell while going down on his knee - again indicating he guessed the length quickly - over deep midwicket to raise his second ton of the season.
Both centuries have been during a daunting chase. There were so many things in common in both knocks, in fact, in his other innings as well, for that matter. The most captivating was his authoritative shots with swagger.
Rachin’s shots make people go wow. I screamed at least thrice during his marvellous ton against Australia. For those watching it from the stands, Rachin’s knock was worth their trip. Even when a rare off day against South Africa materialised, Ravindra didn't leave before stunning fans and commentators alike with a crunching cut shit that bisected a packed off-side field to hit the fence.
It’s startling how things have panned out for Rachin Ravindra since the previous month or so. He was never looked at as a top-order batter and selected in the World Cup as a middle-order batter who could score briskly at No.5 or below and chip in with a few overs. But he impressed with his audacious 97 as an opener in the warm-up game against Pakistan.
Hence, the team decided to slot him at No.3 in the absence of Kane Williamson, and the move did wonders. Rachin has 397 runs at a 99.25 average, with two centuries while batting one down this World Cup. His rise has coincided with Williamson’s frustrating set of injuries.
Not that New Zealand would have liked things to unfold this way, but they would have been relieved that Rachin grabbed his chance immediately. He earned the trust right away, so when Williamson returned against Bangladesh, Ravindra was slotted to open with Devon Conway instead of being shifted below.
Unfortunately, Williamson injured his thumb in the game, and Ravindra was pushed back to No.3. That’s probably the position he would prefer. From being looked at as a lower middle-order batter to rocking at No. 3, Ravindra has had quite some ride in such a short span.
Everything has clicked for Ravindra this World Cup. Who knows where he would have been batting had he not impressed in the practice game against Pakistan? Mark Chapman could have been in contention for batting in the place of Kane Williamson.
That’s how destiny works; it’s random and as unpredictable as it gets. Ravindra won’t mind for now, for his destiny has worked positively. Not to take any credit away from the hard yards he put in to reach here.
Ravindra was a prodigy from a young age. But talent only shines with hard work. And Rachin gave his everything even when no one was watching behind the scenes.
The runs galore on Saturday, with 771 runs aggregated in the match, saw Ravindra stand out. On a day that saw numerous sublime batting efforts, Rachin Ravindra churned out the best aesthetic shots. The snow-covered Dhauladhar range in the backdrop, for once, was not the most elegant outfit in Dharamsala.