Nitish Reddy – Another Youngster’s Upsurge in IPL 2024

The 20-year-old set the ground on fire in the match against Punjab Kings with a strike rate of over 172.

The Upsurge of Nitish Reddy

Nitish Kumar Reddy has a Vijay Merchant Trophy quadruple ton to his name as an opener for Andhra. But the jump from age-group cricket to the big stage hasn’t been straightforward. His debut season in the IPL last year saw him feature in just two games as a bowler with no batting opportunity in either outing.

It was to preserve his rare skillset – of a genuine pace-bowling allrounder – that his coaches and advisors had suggested a switch to the middle order for Reddy the batter in his late teens. Only his second game into IPL 2024 now, the 20-year-old proved why the batting promotion was worth the punt from the Sunrisers Hyderabad.

It was not without reason though as a lot had gone down between the two seasons. Reddy of 2023 was more a conventional batter with conventional shots, but after getting a taste of IPL the youngster had worked tirelessly on improving his range. With the preparation in place, Reddy executed those plans well enough in the pre-season practice games to leave a lasting impact on his captain and the think-tank.

As soon as an opportunity arose – with Mayank Agarwal’s illness in Chennai last week – Reddy was on. A six for the winning shot against CSK was enough for him to keep his place in the XI even as Agarwal pulled up fit for the Punjab Kings fixture.

Nitish Reddy and His Havoc in the SRH vs PBKS Match

With Arshdeep Singh wreaking havoc with the new ball, Reddy arrived at the crease relatively early and within the PowerPlay itself as SRH looked in dire straits at 27/2. He was circumspect at the start, even waiting for senior partners like Rahul Tripathi and the in-form Heinrich Klaasen to tee off. But with the two departing cheaply, and SRH slipping to 64/4, Reddy knew it was time to believe in himself.

The acceleration from thereon was unreal. Nitish had 14 off the first 18 deliveries he had faced and 50 off the next 19 as he threw caution to the wind and propelled SRH to a match-winning total of 182. From a solitary boundary shot in the first 14 runs, Reddy finished with five sixes and added three more fours to his tally in a match-winning turnaround. There was a method to his madness though.

Admittedly, the plan was to respectfully see off the pacers on a track with low bounce and take on spin when it’s reintroduced. However, when a chance came, Reddy wasn’t the one to back down. Both Kagiso Rabada and Sam Curran’s slower short balls were picked up early and sent sailing over the bigger of the boundaries as Reddy sought to switch gears in the second half. And then came the over that, in hindsight, turned the game on its head.

With Harpreet Brar returning to bowl out by the 15th, Reddy unsettled him early with a reverse swipe to backward point for four. The left-armer erred and dished out a juicy full-toss next, and Reddy smoked it over cow corner to bring up his maiden IPL fifty in 32 balls with a 91m hit into the stands. Brar could have ended the carnage there if not for a costly drop at deep midwicket where Shashank Singh not only spilled the catch but also parried it to the ropes. A dejected Brar served up a slot ball next and Reddy swung it over long-off ropes for six more.

This sequence of an absolute freebie following an imposing shot from the youngster had also made an appearance in Brar’s previous over and played right into Reddy’s hands. The spinner’s economy in IPL 2024 was a mighty impressive 5.69 previously, but Brar finished with his most expensive IPL figures of 0-48 on Tuesday.

After giving away just 11 in his first two overs, Brar’s last two went for 15 and 22 respectively as Reddy took down Punjab’s best bowler in a targeted attack to set up his team for two crucial points in just his second batting outing in the competition.

It was a miscued shot off a full toss eventually that brought curtains on Reddy’s fine knock with more than three overs to go; and potentially a century, there for the taking. However, the 20-year-old had more than played his part by then with the top-scoring effort of 64 in 37 deliveries and a punishing 50-run partnership with Abdul Samad (25 off 12) in just 20.

Samad, Reddy’s partner-in-crime in Mullanpur, put it down to his “eagerness and hunger to perform” with expectations at a bare minimum in their maiden season, while Shashank, among the first ones to run in and congratulate the half-centurion, felt “cricket is all about self-belief at this level”.

From a CSK net bowler not so long ago, to a match-winner for SRH in just his fourth outing for the franchise has been quite a start for the Andhra allrounder. On a night where most of the established stars failed to get going, across both teams, Reddy sure showed both the hunger and self-belief to warrant a consistent run at SRH.

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