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Stocks rise for Stubbs after another finishing act

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When the news of the tragedy at the Brook household, and Harry Brook’s subsequent withdrawal from IPL 2024, reached the Delhi Capitals’ camp, the franchise immediately switched to Plan B. That Tristan Stubbs was only a backup until then is unfathomable now, given the sheer numbers he’s accumulated in what has been a breakout season for the South African.

Stubbs, 23, landed in India high on confidence. He’d just finished the SA20 2024 as champions Sunrisers Eastern Cape’s highest run-getter with 301 runs – seventh overall in the season – at a staggering average of 60+ and strike-rate a shade over 168. In the final, he had powered SEC’s title-winning total of 204/3, coming in 106/3 in the 11th over and smashing an unbeaten 56 off just 30 balls. For those who missed watching him toy with bowling attacks in Orange, Stubbs put on a power-hitting masterclass game after game at the IPL. On Tuesday, Lucknow Super Giants were at the receiving end of yet another special that ultimately separated the two sides.

By the time Stubbs took guard, LSG spinners had managed to pull things back remarkably from the blistering launchpad Abhshek Porel had provided DC. An attacking call from skipper KL Rahul saw Ravi Bishnoi bowling his fours overs on the trot – a spell that forced Porel to play watchfully before eventually losing his wicket to the consequent dot-ball pressure as he went from 21-ball half-century to scoring just eight more in the next dozen he faced. In the middle of that DC slowdown, the team at 111/3 at the start of the 12th over, Stubbs carefully saw out the remainder of the Bishnoi spell. By the end of the 15th, the South African had only trudged to 7 off 9 balls, but he backed his ability to accelerate at the backend. And accelerate he did.

“It was quite tough when I walked in,” Stubbs told the broadcaster in the innings break. “I could not get myself on some intensity, it wasn’t easy but once I got going, we got a bit of flow going and we managed to put those runs on the board. I always feel like I can give myself a bit of time and then catch up later on. Especially if you get one or two away, then the bowler starts to feel the pressure and you can get quite a lot of momentum.”

The bowler to cop that pressure on Tuesday was Arshad Khan as Stubbs stepped on the gas in a very calculated attack. With the mid-on inside the ring, Stubbs heaved a slot ball over long-on to switch gears. The slower one that followed later in the over was lofted to long-off, with one bounce, and he then turned it into an 18-run over with a premeditated reverse-scoop between the keeper and the short third for another four. Losing a well-set Rishabh Pant shortly afterwards could have thrown a spanner in the works but not for Stubbs, who expected the in-form Mohsin Khan to resort to slower balls at death. It wasn’t the most well-timed shots but Stubbs pumped enough power in it to fly over the long-off fence.

The 19th from Naveen-ul-Haq was the match-defining over that put DC on course for a 200+ again as Stubbs went 2,4,6,2,6,1. For those in the second tier of the long-on stands who thought nothing could beat the monstrous 101 metre hit towards them, Stubbs followed it up with a beautifully timed inside-out lofted drive into the long-off stands, holding the pose for a good couple of seconds after as he reached a 22-ball half-century. By the time he finished, powering DC to 208, the South African had collected 50 runs in the last 16 balls of his innings, including all of the four sixes and three boundaries he hit on the night.

It was just another sample of a tremendous acceleration job that has seen Stubbs topping an elite list of finishers this year.

IPL 2024: Highest strike-rates in overs 16-20

Player Runs SR
T Stubbs 252 (96) 262.50
H Klaasen 168 (73) 230.14
Shashank S 134 (59) 227.12
MS Dhoni 136 (60) 226.67
D Karthik 226 (100) 226

*minimum 50 balls faced

Stubbs is only second, behind Pant, on the list of highest run scorers for the franchise this season with a tally of 378 at a staggering average of 54 across the 13 outings, and strike-rate ~191. Of his 252 runs at death, 173 have come between overs 18-20, where his strike-rate shoots up to a scarcely believable 320. In that phase, Stubbs has jaw-droppingly played only two dots in the 54 balls faced, and been dismissed just once. Stubbs currently also has the maximum sixes scored at death in IPL 2024 – 20 – followed closely by Dinesh Karthik’s 19.

Stubbs in Overs 18-20 in IPL 2024

Runs Balls Strike-rate 4s/6s Dots Dismissals
173 54 320.4 13/15 2 1

Not just his ability to maneuver the field, what would have been more heartening for the Capitals was Stubbs’ game-awareness. With Bishnoi proving difficult to put away, the South African respectfully played him out before flicking the switch with the reintroduction of pace. The confidence to play this long game, in the quickest format, perhaps comes from his exceptional numbers against spin and pace alike. For someone who came in with the reputation of being a spin-hitter, Stubbs tore into pacers with equal disdain this season.

Stubbs in IPL 2024

Bowling Type Runs Balls Strike-rate Average Dots 4s/6s Dismissals
vs Pace 234 118 198.3 78 23 18/15 3
vs Spin 144 80 180 48 19 6/11 3

After spending majority of 2022 and 2023 on the bench at Mumbai Indians, a regular opportunity in the Capitals’ middle-order has allowed Stubbs to showcase his true potential – a chance he’s grabbed with both hands. Stepping up in a tough season for DC, who were constantly grappling with injury and form concerns to most of their first-choice overseas players, is bound to put Stubbs high on the franchise’s list of retention candidates.

“Absolutely,” said Capitals’ assistant coach Pravin Amre after their 19-run victory over LSG in their league game. “If Harry Brook would have been there then Stubbs’ chances… he was actually Brook’s back-up. That’s also why I think it was important [at the auction] that we picked a very good backup.

“We saw he had done very well in the South Africa league [SA20], contributing well in the winning team’s [success] and we were very hopeful that he can [deliver]. He got a triple hundred in [South African] first-class competition also. What we saw was that he’s someone who can play against spinners very well, and that was the biggest plus [for us]. He also looks like he’s very hungry for success, he’s very composed, he always makes his routine very well and is very focused.

“I can say that this is a player for the next five years [for DC]. The temperament he’s shown… today, he was 6-7 runs in the first-10 balls he faced. But, like he’s done so many times previously, a 20-22 ball fifty [is commendable from there on] and it’s been really important for us. Today, that 19th over where he got us those 21 runs, that really made the difference in our win today,” Amre noted.

In a season which has seen batters push the envelope in PowerPlay batting, Stubbs largely flew under the radar while simultaneously establishing himself as DC’s destroyer at death.

**With stats inputs from Roshan Gede

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