Lynn’s numbers in this edition of the IPL are: 277 runs from ten matches at a strike-rate of 133.81. © BCCI
If you want to witness Chris Lynn at his destructive best, get hold of the footage of his innings against Gujarat Lions in Rajkot in the last edition of the Indian Premier League. Set a 184-run target, Lynn’s assault meant Kolkata Knight Riders polished off the chase inside 15 overs with all ten wickets intact. It was a coming of age of sorts for Lynn, for doubts hovered over his ability to play spin and bat in Indian conditions after all his exploits in the Big Bash in Australia.
While the innings promised a flourishing IPL campaign, he hurt his left shoulder in the very next match in Mumbai and was ruled out of action for a brief period. That sums up Lynn’s career in a nutshell: promise dented by injuries. “Dear Cricket Gods, have I done something wrong?” he had tweeted soon after – the frustration palpable; the disappointment understandable.
Lynn’s run with injuries have not only been frustrating for the explosive batsman, but for the teams he represents as well. He hasn’t been able to flourish in international cricket because of his dodgy shoulder, and on several occasions, his campaigns across various T20 leagues have been cut short.
There’s a lot, however, to be liked about what Lynn brings to the table. His destructive ability makes him a precious addition at the top of the order. Not only can he score at a quick pace at the top, but can also do it consistently. He showed it in the 2016-17 edition of the Big Bash where he scored his 309 runs at a strike-rate of 177.58 and at an average of 154.50. He then went on to display the same qualities in the last edition of the IPL as well despite the same shoulder injury and having missed most of the games; his 295 runs from seven games came at a strike-rate of 180.98 and an average of 49.16.
Lynn’s IPL 2018 was in danger as well after he picked up the shoulder injury once again in the Pakistan Super League. However, some rehab work in Australia deemed him fit in time for the tournament. The injuries, however, have hampered Lynn’s batting. He has, as a result, been forced to play with a shorter backlift, reducing the power in his strokes and has had to shed his all-out approach as well. The injury has already cost him a place in Australia’s limited-overs side. He has been strictly advised against diving on any side and that has forced him to field at fine leg or third man for most parts of the innings.
Yet, Lynn’s limitations have had no bearing on KKR so far. Sunil Narine’s clean hitting at the top and Robin Uthappa’s exceptional striking ability has meant that Lynn has been allowed time to settle down – something he acknowledged after the game against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Bengaluru. Lynn’s numbers in this edition – 277 runs from ten matches at a strike-rate of 133.81 – don’t do justice to what he can do with the bat. However, factoring in all his restrictions, his slow start is understandable.
To Lynn’s credit, he has taken on the new role of playing anchor in the innings pretty well. He scored an unbeaten 69 against RCB in the away fixture and led KKR to a win. In the clash against Kings XI Punjab, he scored a 41-ball 71, fighting against the spin threat, to give KKR a chance before the bowlers blew it off. In the game at the Eden Gardens against Sunrisers Hyderabad, where all the batsmen struggled, Lynn scored 49 to give the bowlers something to work with.
KKR now find themselves in a position where they need at least three wins from their four remaining games to cement a spot in the play-offs. Lynn, on his day, has the ability bat out opponents out of the game and smoothen that passage as the team gears itself to enter a decisive phase.
“I was probably a bit nervous and apprehensive early on,” he said of the fear of injuring himself again, on the eve of the clash against Mumbai Indians on Tuesday (May 8). “But I feel that’s gone away now. Now I can bat with the freedom and I think the last couple of innings have shown that in small glimpses but it’ll be nice to face 30-40 balls and get the runs on the board.
“I’m certainly not 100 percent. It’s at a percentage where I feel comfortable. For me batting is not an issue at all so that’s first and foremost. Obviously, while fielding I’m not fielding in positions I want to field in; little bit restricted there. But at the end of the day, I’m getting the job done. Every game I play, I’m feeling more comfortable and more confident. I feel the big score is just round the corner.”
What Lynn says isn’t without merit. He has stopped using the shoulder strap given to him by Johnathan Thurston, an Australian rugby star. The strap that went around the upper thigh and his shoulder has limited his movement and that has in turn impacted his bat swing.
During a chat with Cricbuzz in 2016, Lynn had acknowledged that lack of opportunities had a lot to do with his weakness against spin. In the last two years, he has sorted out tha shortcoming and looks a lot at ease while facing the spinners. Yes, there have been a few dismissals against spinners, but he’s shown that he’s built an ability to work past tough periods against the slow bowlers. More than the condition of his shoulder though, having spent considerable time at the crease has impacted his confidence.
A career that has promised a lot at various stages hasn’t been allowed to flourish because of injuries. IPL 2018 is yet to witness his typical Lynsannity. And with the crucial clash against MI coming up, the think-tank, the fans and Lynn himself will be hoping he is able to get on a roll. And if his confidence is anything to go by, the big score is just round the corner.