West Indies-born all-rounder Jofra Archer came to the IPL party in style on Sunday
There was a reason Rajasthan Royals splashed out big money on Jofra Archer in the IPL auction in January this year. The 23-year-old all-rounder is the most highly sought-after uncapped player in T20 cricket at the moment and as such, his debut in the IPL has been eagerly anticipated by fans.
If there was ever any doubt about the adaptability of Archer to subcontinent conditions, those were well and truly erased on Sunday as the Barbados-born man made his IPL bow in the clash against Mumbai Indians.
Having missed out on the previous five matches for the franchise in the campaign with a knee injury, the all-rounder showed his pure class in a man-of-the-match performance with the ball in hand.
While his first three overs during the day did not fetch any wickets, Archer had been highly economical despite his fellow bowlers copping some punishment. The defending champions had raced away to 130-1 after 14 overs and were on course to put up a mammoth total in front of the Royals.
That is when the Caribbean-born Archer decided to take matters into his own hands. Clocking regularly above 145 kmph with alarming ease, the all-rounder put a brake on Mumbai’s power-hitting with some quiet overs before delivering an exceptional final over.
Bowling the penultimate over of the innings, Archer conceded just five runs and picked up three wickets to put Rajasthan on the ascendancy. Despite the excellent figures, it was the manner in which Archer went about his job that grabbed eyeballs.
Displaying that ice-cool Caribbean temperament in the heat of pressure, Archer exhibited the entire range of variations at his disposal to unsettle the batsmen. Bowling pin-point yorkers with breathtaking pace in one ball before bowling a cleverly disguised slower delivery in the next, the Rajasthan Royals man kept the batsmen guessing throughout his spell.
It wasn’t only Archer’s bowling which impressed on the night. The all-rounder was a livewire on the field with his athleticism while also dealing some crucial blows with the bat in hand during the chase.
His inclusion has completely transformed the make-up of Ajinkya Rahane’s men and has given them the ‘x-factor’ in the bowling department which had been severely lacking previously.
Despite having the most expensive player in the form of England all-round ace Ben Stokes in their ranks, the Royals had been lacking that something extra until Archer’s inclusion on Sunday.
To come in and put such a performance on your IPL debut after a long injury lay-off is no small feat and is a testament to the all-rounder’s undeniable natural talent. With him back in the mix of things, the Royals will definitely be dreaming big as they get a floundering campaign back on track.