Josh Hazlewood has made a successful return to action four months since injuring his Achilles during the Sydney Test in January.
The 32-year-old quick bowled three excellent overs in Royal Challengers Bangalore’s defeat of Lucknow Super Giants, helping to defend a target of just 127 in the Indian Premier League.
Hazlewood has been working with Cricket Australia medics on a recuperation programme designed to get him on the pitch for the World Test Championship final against India at The Oval on June 7, and the subsequent Ashes series.
Monday’s T20 was a significant step on that road.
Bowling in the power play and a ‘death over’ he took 2-15 as LSG were bowled out for 108, 18 runs short.
“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.
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.”
Faf du Plessis (44) and Virat Kohli (31) were the only batsmen to look comfortable in Lucknow and their opening partnership of 62 was the difference for RCB.