Cricket is a team game without doubt, but T20 is one format where a match can often be a case of one individual against the opponents. This was exactly the case when Otago took on Perth Scorchers at Jaipur on Wednesday. Neil Broom came in and played such a marauding innings that the game was pretty much over even before the Scorchers set out to chase the mammoth total. Of course, no target in beyond reach in T20 if batsmen find their groove along with some luck. But in Scorchers’case, they did not possess the talent to stand up to the challenge.
The beauty of Broom’s sweeping century was the fact that it came against the backdrop of Otago losing two wickets very early on, that too the big wickets of Brendon McCullum and Hamish Rutherford. It is no secret how heavily dependent Otago are on their big-hitting skipper McCullum. In that context, his dismissal for a duck gave Perth the definite upper hand. However, Broom, who hasn’t represented the New Zealand side for a few seasons, came up with the perfect knock, first getting his eye in and then going hammer and tongs.
There have been a few spectacular centuries in T20 cricket, and Broom’s knock fits the description. That he cleared the fence on eight occasions is a clear indication of his brutality, but the fact that he did so with utmost ease was even more impressive. Also, Broom made sure that once he got a start he carried on all the way to the end. Many hard-hitters often come up with cameos and give their hands away, satisfied with a few clean strikes. But, Broom batted right till the 20th over, and this was the chief reason why Otago got a match-winning score on the board.
While Broom was without doubt the standout performer for Otago, there were a couple of other efforts from their batsmen which were also significant. Derek de Boorder featured in a stand with Broom which rescued Otago after the early loss of wickets. It was an important partnership because had they lost another wicket, things would have definitely got tougher for the batting side. The contribution of Ryan ten Doeschate also cannot be underestimated. His thunderous half-century gave the Scorchers no respite as he attacked from one end, and Broom from the other.
Once Otago had put up a mammoth total on board, they were always favourites to win. The only way Scorchers could have come anywhere close to Otago’s total was if someone played the kind of innings Broom did for. It never came. On the contrary, Ian Butler sent back both the openers in the first over, and that pretty much took away any faint hopes Scorchers may have had. The run out of skipper Simon Katich without facing a ball only made matters worse for them. Hilton Cartwright came up with a pleasing half-century, but the game was way out of reach for Scorchers by then. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Broom had swept them away.
--By A Cricket Analyst