Josh Hazlewood delights cricket fans in brilliant return ahead of Ashes
The Aussie quick returned with a bang in the Indian Premier League.
Aussie quick Josh Hazlewood has returned to cricket after four months out due to injury to help the Royal Challengers Bangalore defeat the Lucknow Super Giants in a low-scoring match. Hazlewood hasn't played cricket since injuring his foot in the Sydney Test back in January.
The quick didn't travel to India for the Border-Gavaskar series with the team determining he would need to be fit for the upcoming Test Championship final and the Ashes. And in a sign that he will be ready for 'Bazball' in just a few months, Hazlewood returned to bowl three brilliant overs to take 2-15 and help Bangalore defend just 127.
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The low-scoring match was the opposite of recent games, including the Mumbai Indians' victory that saw Aussie Tim David help chase a record total on the ground, with Lucknow only managing 108. Cricket Australia's team would have been thrilled seeing Hazlewood back out on the field after a serious stint on the sidelines ahead of Australia's biggest two months of cricket in 2023.
Bowling in the power play and a 'death over' he took 2-15 as LSG were bowled out for 108, 18 runs short. "The body was feeling pretty good. It was nice to have a hit-out. It's just so different playing in a game, compared to training," Hazlewood said in his post-match press conference.
"It's a nice little stepping stone, for further down the track. Hopefully I pull up well tomorrow and we go from there. He later added: "It has been a long while," Hazlewood said of his four-month lay-off.
"I was excited more than nervous. It is great to be back here, in front of some good fans." Hazlewood took 20 wickets at 21.85 in four Tests during the last Ashes tour in 2019, but has played only 11 of Australia's subsequent 28 Tests due to muscular ailments.
When he has played he has remained a threat picking up 28 wickets at 22.26. Ben Stokes' recent admission that he has called for 'flat and quick' wickets during the Ashes to help the team's aggressive approach means Hazlewood's inclusion is even more important due to his accuracy.
And fans were thrilled to see the big quick back on the pitch and bowling well.
Josh Hazlewood certainly did not disappoint in his first game since his return from injury.
His figures tonight: 3-0-15-2 🇦🇺👏
Now that RCB have got a strengthened bowling attack, are you confident about their chances of making it into the top 4?#IPL2023 https://t.co/FMo2VFoYkR
— 12th Khiladi (@12th_khiladi) May 1, 2023
Hazlewood's return was key today. Absolute gun bowler.
— Shakti Chaturvedi (@ico90clast) May 1, 2023
Josh Hazlewood has just marked his run-up in Lucknow! #IPL2023 #LSGvRCB pic.twitter.com/eE5V4WlfU7
— Cricbuzz (@cricbuzz) May 1, 2023
Josh Hazlewood New Ball Spell was a High Quality Spell.
He was unplayable with the New Ball tonight.#IPL2023 #RCBVSLSG
— Abhimanyu (@abhimanyusrt) May 1, 2023
Josh Hazlewood thrilled with comeback victory
Hazlewood also praised the pitch, which gave the initiative back to the bowlers after some huge run-chases in this year's tournament. The quick said it was a nice change to see a wicket that was hard to bat on.
"It's good to have occasionally one for the bowlers, in a low scoring affair," Hazlewood said in his post match press conference. "It's often quite a tight match. One team is never really out of it."
Bowling the second over he did not concede a run until a single was taken off the last ball. He then took a wicket with the first ball of the fifth over and did not concede again until the fifth ball when Aussie teammate Marcus Stoinis smashed him for a straight six.
Stoinis later perished for 13 as LSK lost wickets regularly. Glenn Maxwell, who had been dismissed for four when batting, took a key wicket of Krundal Pandya in his one over for three runs.
LSK were not helped by opener and captain KL Rahul having to bat last due to injury. He faced three balls without scoring and will be a concern for India ahead of the World Test Championship.
"It is a sad thing. He pulled his hip flexor, I guess," said Pandya. "I do not know how bad it is. The medical team will assess it."
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