Travis Head amazing knock
Travis Head does it again - a 16-ball half-century in an IPL triumph, reached with a huge six. Image by AP PHOTO
  • cricket

Classic Head start powers Cummins’ men to IPL rout

Ian Chadband May 9, 2024

Travis Head has surpassed even his own remarkable brilliance in the 2024 edition of the IPL, blasting a match-winning knock which proved the perfect birthday gift for his captain Pat Cummins.

The Australian lefthander, who’s taking daredevil opening to new heights in this year’s biggest IPL slugfest yet, smashed an “unreal” 89 not out off just 30 balls, with eight sixes and eight fours, to help bludgeon Sunrisers Hyderabad to a lightning-quick win on Cummins’ 31st birthday.

With his young Indian teammate Abhishek Sharma teeing off just as manically at the other end, with 75no off 28 balls, the pair’s astonishing pyrotechnics ensured Sunrisers chased down Lucknow Super Giants’ 4-165 before even the halfway mark of their dizzying innings.

They put together an unbeaten 167-run opening partnership off just 9.4 overs in Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium to see off a reasonably challenging target on Wednesday with an astounding 62 balls still remaining.

Amid all the carnage, KL Rahul, the Lucknow captain, was left marvelling: “I’m lost for words. We’ve watched that batting on TV – but that was unreal. Everything was hitting the middle of the bat, kudos to their skill.”

It would have been extraordinary if the IPL hadn’t witnessed this sort of opening platform from the pair so often already this season, with captain Cummins saying of Head’s performance: “It certainly doesn’t surprise me any more.

“He’s been like this for the last few years. He might not be super-conventional but he’s got a great eye, hits the middle of the bat a lot and he’s having a wonderful tournament.”

Looking in the sort of form that will have all Australia’s World Cup opponents concerned, Head cracked 22 off Krishnappa Gowtham’s second over, and then pulverised the fifth over of the innings, bowled by Naveen-ul-Haq, for another 24, to race past his half-century in just 16 balls. 

He went past 500 runs for the IPL season, and moved on to 533 runs at an average of 53.30 and a strike-rate of 201.89. 

No wonder he was grinning afterwards: “Very, very good fun. 

“The last 12 months being back in the Australian team, that’s how they’ve wanted me to play and I’m not trying to change anything, just trying to maximise that powerplay. 

“It’s not going to work all the time but I’m going to try to be as consistent as I can, give myself the best opportunity and hopefully do my part for the team.”

Head’s daring has helped the 20-over game explore new limits this season. Incredibly, he and 23-year-old Abhishek plundered 107 in just the six-over powerplay alone. 

It left Cummins, who’d earlier taken the key wicket of Rahul in his 1-47 and also ran out Krunal Pandya brilliantly with a direct hit, musing a mite ruefully: “It’s difficult coming up with answers when the batters are running so hot. It seems like it’s happening more and more often, unfortunately.”

But these astonishing ‘Head starts’ are putting his Sunrisers in a good position to make the playoffs, with Hyderabad now third in the table on 14 points and with their net run-rate having been seriously boosted.

For Justin Langer-coached Lucknow, though, for whom Marcus Stoinis fell early for three, it was a big setback as they now lie sixth.