If there is one sentence or statement that entirely sums up Rahul Tewatia's brave comeback on Sunday night is Andy Dufresne's same line, "Hope is a good thing, maybe best of things and no good thing ever dies", from 1994 classic The Shawshank Redemption.
Rajasthan Royals made an unconventional move after Steve Smith's dismissal in the team's chase to 224 in Sharjah. Head coach Andrew McDonald had sent Tewatia at No.4 with the job "to hit sixes off the leg-spinner". But not only did he struggle against Ravi Bishnoi, he also failed to draw runs of Glenn Maxwell. The U-19 leg-spinner had pulled off the similar strategy that had dented Rishabh Pant's effort against him in their opener last week, leaving Tewatia gasping for breath on a ground where sixes and fours were being scored at will. What even added to his woe was that Sanju Samson on the other end was bearing the entire load of the run chase.
Miles away, on a different zone, 'Tewatia' began trending on Twitter. People were mocking him, asking him to leave the field. CricViz showed a negative batting impact of Tewatia while most veteran cricketers including Aakash Chopra called for destigmatisation of retired hurt in a bid to tactically allow the struggling batsman to go bat to the pavilion at will allowing another, a better-placed teammate at the crease.
Blessed was Tewatia that he remained well afar from all the debate and criticism.
"That was the worst first 20 balls that I have ever played. I was hitting the ball very good in the nets, so I had belief in myself and kept going. I was not hitting the ball well initially, I saw in the dug-out, everybody was curious because they know that I can hit the ball long. I thought I had to believe in myself. It was a matter of one six, after that, I got going," he explained.
And one six was all he required to bounce back to form. With his back against the wall, Tewatia sought to attack Bishnoi. In the 15th over, he shimmied down the track to launch a half-tracker over the bowler for a six. Samson departed shortly after and Tewatia was the only set batsman at the middle and he decided to take on Sheldon Cottrell.
In the 18th over of the game, Tewatia pulled two back-to-back short ball over backward square leg for a six. The Windies bowler changed his length to a more fuller delivery and Tewatia this time lofted it over long off. Cottrell then slipped in a low full toss and the batsman slogged him over mid-wicket for a fourth consecutive six. Cottrell managed to pull off a dot ball with a cutter in the fifth delivery, but an ill-advised slowish ball saw Tewatia clearing the ropes again. And all in a matter of few minutes, Rajasthan drew 30 runs off the over and Tewatia stood on 47 off 29 balls.
He eventually completed his half-century with a six sliced over backward point off Mohammed Shami in the penultimate over before being dismissed in the next ball. From a scenario of no comeback, Tewatia 31-ball 53 helped Rajasthan complete a mission impossible, becoming the first IPL team in 13 years of history to pull off a successful chase of 224 or more.
Tewatia's innings truly redefined self-belief. From being mocked all around, even from the commentary box, to putting forth a match-changing innings, it takes some courage.