Pat Cummins is back and how.
After bludgeoning a Mumbai Indians attack, and left-arm quick Daniel Sams in particular for a 35-run over, to notch up the joint-fastest IPL fifty off just 14 balls in Pune, Cummins found himself on the bench for a string of games that coinicided with a winless streak for Kolkata Knight Riders.
It wasn't so much for his batting but for his primary suit with the ball. He had conceded 190 runs in 15.5 overs picking four wickets at an economy upwards of 12 an over.
On Monday (May 9), he made a telling contribution with the ball with figures of 4-0-22-3 against the same opponents he had made hay over a month ago.
The match hung in balance as Mumbai needed 66 off the last six overs, in their chase of 166, with the well-set Ishan Kishan batting on 51 with Kieron Pollard for company at the other end. An over later, Cummins had all but sealed the game in his side's favour.
Bowling a decisive 15th over, he started off by bouncing out Kishan with a well-directed bouncer on middle stump forcing him to top edge the delivery to Rinku Singh at deep backward square leg. Three balls later, he had Daniel Sams fending awkwardly with a short ball on middle with a top edge pouched safely by Sheldon Jackson behind the stumps. Off the last delivery, which followed a relentless barrage of short balls, Murugan Ashwin attempted the uppercut only to find Varun Chakaravarthy at the third man boundary.
Earlier in the game, he had watched Jasprit Bumrah pick up his best T20 figures of 5-10 in four overs with all five wickets a result of short-pitch bowling. It allowed Cummins as well as Tim Southee and Andre Russell a blueprint to follow when they set out to defend 166 on a dry pitch.
"I thought he [Bumrah] bowled really well," Cummins said at the post-match press conference.
"I think he showed us that top of the stumps, back of a length, was a tough one to play on this wicket. Especially here at DY Patil, it’s quite a big ground. Obviously you can feel confident that to be hit for a six is going to be a pretty good shot. So yeah, the game plan was really simple for us – try to bowl straight lines, back of a length, and it worked out."
Coming into the game, the Knight Riders made as many as five changes and opted to go in with a batting-heavy line-up with only Cummins, Southee, Sunil Narine and Varun Chakaravarthy as frontline bowling options with Andre Russell and Venkatesh Iyer for support, a move that eventually paid off in a 52-run win.
"I think Russ in particular has been bowling really well in the last few games," Cummins said. "He’s a class player, very confident, he can bowl four overs anytime in the innings. Obviously with Venkatesh and also Nitish Rana, who didn’t bowl tonight, [we] can cover the four overs quite easily. I think the message sent to the batters was to just go out there and be free, try and be the match-winner, take the game on. And maybe with the extra batter, it provides that bit of freedom as well."
The Australian quick also admitted at not bowling upto the standards he had set for himself but time away helped him work on his bowling.
"I probably didn’t bowl as well as I’d have liked to in those first four games," he said.
"Yeah [I was] just a little bit off the mark. And Tim’s done a fantastic job. So yeah, good to get a go tonight. I was preparing, training, getting ready to be called upon if needed. And Umesh’s injury presented a chance. Yeah I didn’t have to try anything hard, [I was] just trying to be a little bit more on the money than I was in the first four games.
"I think I’ve played enough to not worry too much about the ups and downs, especially T20 cricket. The last few games on the bench have been a good chance to look at Tim Southee, who has been bowling fantastically well, so learning off someone like him and when I got my chance again just trying to be that little bit more disciplined."