“Never set limits, go after your dreams, don’t be afraid to push the boundaries, and laugh a lot, it’s good for you” — Rahul Tewatia, in 2017
In the end, Rahul Tewatia was smiling. His teammates were, too.
Many an international cricketer has said this in the past: comebacks of any kind are much more harder than debuts. When you are playing for the first time, the pressure is never absent, but to reset and go again in any form or shape is one of the hardest things there is in sport.
If that’s the case over a career, multiply that many times over during a match. Test cricket gives you the time to perhaps script a turnaround, one day internationals perhaps perhaps provide a window of opportunity here or there. But in a T20, most often you have good, bad or average days. You might be able to change your fortunes from ‘terrible’ to ‘alright that was not too bad’ or vice versa. Not much more, surely? It’s not your day, it’s not your day - that’s it, right?
But Rahul Tewatia, in Sharjah on Sunday, ripped that narrative to shreds.
“Accept what is, let go of what was, have faith in what will be” — Rahul Tewatia in 2017
For the first 20 balls of his innings, it simply did not click for Tewatia. At the other end, Sanju Samson was hitting the ball as cleanly as he has ever done in his life. The contrast could not have been starker, the differences could not have been more extreme. For the first 19 balls he faced, the sequence of scoring went like this: 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0. Not everything in cricket is binary, but in a simplistic viewpoint of good or bad, this was the latter.
The low-point during that phase had to be when, in the 16th over, Samson refused a single.
On the internet and on air, the discussion was more about Tewatia’s struggles than about Samson’s ball-striking. Should he have thrown his wicket way? Should he walk down the pitch and get stumped while swinging and missing? What made RR take this decision to send him up the order?
His struggles were might have happened in a stadium without fans, but the noise in his head would have reminded him millions were watching it all in their living rooms.
“Work hard in silence, let success make the noise” — Rahul Tewatia in 2017
Samson revealed after the match, in a chat alongside Tewatia, that in the weeks they trained ahead of IPL 2020, there was a mini-competition in the squad to see who can hit the most sixes in six balls. That time, he hit four or five and ever since then the management has been wanting to promote him in the order, even considered opening with him.
“We had brought in Rahul Tewatia for his role as a legspinner, but we saw in the camp [his batting skills]. At the beginning we were all thinking about that decision [to promote him] and wondering what happened but Rahul proved in the end what a good call it was,” Samson said.
And just like that, to finish his innings, and the highest ever IPL run-chase as it turned out, Tewatia went: 6, 0, 2, 1, 6, 6, 6, 6, 0, 6, 6.
“Don’t worry about what others think. People are always negative, don’t let it bother you” — Rahul Tewatia in 2017
But he knew. It was a matter of getting one hit away. He told himself he had to believe, he simply had to believe that hitting one six will turn it around for him. From an improbable situation that was veering damn near impossible, Tewatia turned it around for himself, and more importantly, for his team.
“Keep the faith. The most amazing things in life tend to happen right at the moment you’re about to give up hope” — Rahul Tewatia in 2017
It has been a year where every human being in the world has been challenged in one form or the other. Things have been tough, confusing, and many times, downright upsetting. But Tewatia’s innings was a timely reminder that tough times don’t last, tough people do. His redemption on the night was a reminder that hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things.
“Do not give up, the beginning is always the hardest” — Rahul Tewatia in 2017
A job well begun is job half done, it is said. But for Tewatia, all’s well that ends well.
Watch: Sanju Samson chats with Rahul Tewatia:
Watch: The Rahul Tewatia innings
Videos courtesy iplt20.com