“Head up young man”: MI batting coach Pollard’s words of encouragement for teen South African pacer following poor IPL debut

Hyderabad (Telangana) [India]: Following his side’s loss to Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in their Indian Premier League (IPL) match, Mumbai Indians (MI) batting coach had given words of encouragement to South Africa’s U19 pace sensation Kwena Maphaka, who had a nightmarish debut in the IPL with the ball.

In the SRH innings, Maphaka was hit for 66 runs in his four overs and went wicketless, which is the worst figure by a bowler on his IPL debut. It is also the joint-third worst bowling figure in IPL history, with SRH’s Basil Thampi’s 0/70 against RCB back in 2018 still at the top of the charts.

Receiving such a heavy beatdown by world-class batters on a bigger stage than age-group cricket, Maphaka looked quite shattered in his body language sometimes. Taking to Instagram, the West Indies great Pollard cheered the young bowler with words of encouragement.

“Head up young man … greater things to achieve. I’m sure your family, friends loved ones are very proud of you.. tough first day at the office but loved how you kept coming . #greaterthingsinstore # future looks bright . #17yearsyoung we believe in giving youngsters a platform @mumbaiindians,” wrote Pollard.

Maphaka, a 17-year-old pacer, joined MI as a replacement for Sri Lankan Dilshan Madushanka, who has been ruled out of the tournament due to an injury.

He shot into the limelight at the U19 World Cup earlier this year, where he was awarded ‘Player of the Tournament’ honour for picking 21 wickets. The left-armer’s 21 wickets are the most ever by a pace bowler in an edition of the U19 World Cup.

He spearheaded South Africa’s attack as they made the semi-finals in home conditions. The 17-year-old has already represented South Africa A and South Africa Emerging teams.

Coming to the match, Sunrisers Hyderabad was put to bat first by Mumbai Indians. MI got Mayank Agarwal (11) early. But fiery knocks came from Travis Head (62 in 24 balls, with nine fours and three sixes), Abhishek Sharma (63 in 23 balls with three fours and seven sixes) that powered SRH to 148/2 in their 10 overs. Abhishek-Head put on a 68-run partnership for the second wicket.

Following a brief 48-run stand between Abhishek and Aiden Markram (42* in 28 balls, with two fours and a six), Heinrich Klaasen (80* in 34 balls, with four boundaries and seven sixes) formed a 116-run stand in 54 balls to take SRH to 277/3 in their 20 overs, the highest-ever IPL total.

Gerald Coetzee (1/57), skipper Hardik Pandya (1/46) and Piyush Chawla (1/34) took wickets for MI. South African U19 star Kwena Maphanka was hit for 66 runs on his debut IPL game in his four overs.

Chasing 278, openers Rohit Sharma (26 in 12 balls, with a four and three sixes) and Ishan Kishan (34 in 13 balls, with two fours and three sixes) gave MI a fine start, racing to 56 in 3.2 overs.

After both openers were dismissed, Naman Dhir (30 in 14 balls, with two fours and two sixes) and Tilak Varma (64 in 34 balls, with two fours and six sixes) formed a 84-run stand, taking MI to 150 in 10.4 when Dhir was dismissed in an unbelievable counterattack.
Tilak kept fighting for MI along with skipper Hardik Pandya (24 in 20 balls, with a four and six), taking MI to 182/4 in 14.1 overs at the time of Tilak’s dismissal.

In the death overs, Tim David (42* in 22 balls, with two fours and three sixes) battled it out for MI along with Pandya and Romario Shepherd (15* in six balls, with two fours and a six). But MI had been controlled well by SRH bowlers and restricted to a commendable 246/5 in 20 overs, losing by 31 runs.

Skipper Pat Cummins (2/35) and Jaydev Unadkat (2/47) were the top bowlers for SRH. Shahbaz Ahmed also got a wicket.

Abhishek took home the ‘Player of the Match’ award for his fifty. 

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