Sport

Levi blasts his way to IPL

Richard Levi.
Richard Levi. Getty Sport Images - Sandra Mu

BRUISING South African opener Richard Levi is about to discover how one innings can potentially change a career.

The beefy Levi is suddenly of hot interest in the Indian Premier League, courtesy of his blockbusting 117 off 51 balls which plundered the New Zealand attack in Tuesday night's T20 in Hamilton.

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The Pune Warriors, home in April and May for New Zealand pair Nathan McCullum and Jesse Ryder, are understood to have made a bid around US$400,000 ($AU376,300) for the 24-year-old's services. Levi and Ryder opening the batting? That sounds a blast.

Before this particular Levi broke over New Zealand, he wasn't wanted in the IPL auction early this month. Thirteen sixes, most of which would have cleared significantly longer boundaries than the 8-irons of Seddon Park, are a world record.

"Why not?" was New Zealand acting skipper Brendon McCullum's view on Levi's appeal to an IPL franchise. McCullum and West Indian Chris Gayle are the only other batsmen to have struck T20 international centuries, and Levi's 45-ball effort betters both of them in speed.

"That innings was one of the few when you get to see someone in full cry. If he can replicate that consistently over the course of his career I'm sure he's going to be pretty well sought after."

Rival skipper AB de Villiers, asked whether Levi had calmed down after Hamilton, he quipped: "I don't want him to calm down.

"He's a humble guy, down to earth, and he starts from zero tomorrow."

And both captains put the issue of Tim Southee's verbal sparring at Levi and other South African batsmen to bed yesterday. De Villiers said he'd be surprised if Southee didn't have a chip or two at the batsmen.

"That's what a fast bowler should be like," de Villiers said. "It'd be weird if he didn't do that. It's part of the game, and it will be around for the rest of the summer."

In any case, de Villiers reckons he heard Southee offering a "good shot, well played" to Levi in Hamilton, "so you can't call that sledging".

McCullum defended Southee as "a street fighter, a very passionate guy, one of the leaders of our team" and invoked former All Black captain Tana Umaga's "tiddlywinks" line to a referee to characterise this series.

"There's two very passionate teams out there, who are incredibly proud of where they come from. If that sort of stuff didn't exist in the game I guess there'd be questions asked about that."

McCullum didn't believe Southee has overstepped the line.

Topics:  indian premier league south africa cricket



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