Wednesday, May 29, 2024

From RCB to SRH: Travis Head is enjoying his journey in IPL


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New Delhi, April 19: When you go back to the 2016 Indian Premier League (IPL), the Royal Challengers Bengaluru had exceptional firepower in Virat Kohli — who took the Orange cap and smashed four centuries, AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle and Shane Watson, despite them losing to Sunrisers Hyderabad. Amongst them was a young Australia left-handed batter Travis Head, who had made his T20 international debut in January. Head would remain with RCB in 2016 and 2017, making 205 runs in 10 matches, before dropping out of the IPL bandwagon. But the learnings he had from being at RCB are still etched in his mind.
“It feels like a long time ago and I hadn’t understood myself much around off-field or game stuff. I saw how ABD, Virat and Gayle went about, as every guy had a different thing which made them great and stand out from others.
AB’s match day stuff and understanding of the game were incredible. Virat’s preparation was second to none and the way Chris performed on match day was just outrageous, as he would go out and dominate.”
“So each guy had those things that I sort of drew upon and understand the blueprint. I probably went away for understanding and putting the work in where my game needs to be when I am a bit older and where I need to be.
So, I had to learn a fair bit and learn off those guys and went away,” said Head in a virtual interaction with select journalists on Friday.
Cut to the present, and Head is currently the most dominant batter of IPL 2024, after being picked by Sunrisers Hyderabad at last year’s player auction. It was a memorable 2023 for Head, who became Player of the Match in the final of the 2023 World Test Championship and Men’s ODI World Cup finale, coming up against India on both occasions.
In five matches of IPL 2024, he has smashed 235 runs, at an average of 47, and a gigantic strike rate of nearly 200, including hitting 28 fours and 12 sixes.
More importantly, he’s given SRH the much-needed boost by taking charge of scoring heavily in the Power-play, which has propelled them to claim the record of the top two highest scores in the IPL.
In SRH making a gigantic 277/3 against Mumbai Indians, Head was one of the three batters to slam a fiery fifty.
In SRH bettering it by making 287/3 against Royal Challengers Bengaluru, Head stunned everyone with his aggressive strokeplay by slamming a fiery 102 off 41 balls.
“It’s dependent on where you are playing and how you structure your batting line-up. Here at the Sunrisers, the aim has been to take control of the Power-play and be aggressive in the Powerplay. Myself, Abhi (Abhishek Sharma) and Klass (Heinrich Klassen) are able to do that. Every team has got different identities and different gameplans and ours is to try to make the most of the Power-play with the kind of batting we have got.”
“I feel like I’ve come back to this IPL now, which is a tough competition. So being now a lot older and having experienced a lot of IPL and international cricket, I feel like I’m in a better state and that’s why the performance I guess has been there. It’s not always guaranteed that I will get the runs. But it’s been really enjoyable,” added Head.
In the time Head was away from IPL, by his admission, Test cricket was the emphasis and the urge to excel at the international level.
But then he lost his Australia contract and went back to playing domestic cricket for South Australia, with his parents, wife Jessica, former SACA general manager Tim Nielsen, plus his national side skipper Pat Cummins and coach Andrew McDonald providing him with the necessary support.
With Cummins giving Head the backing to play his aggressive style of cricket and working hard on his technique, the left-handed batter was back in the national reckoning by earning a recall for the 2021 Ashes and blasted a wonderful century at The Gabba, signalling that he was back again for the long haul at the international level. (IANS)


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