Whattashot: The strokes that took the breath away at Eden Park

KL Rahul using the pace of Kiwi bowler to hit the ball a long way (Hotstar screengrab)

The swat-six (18.1)
Required rate: 12 off 18 balls
This one from Shreyas Iyer had Virat Kohli hyper-excited. Iyer just backed away and flat-batted a back-of-length Tim Southee ball over long-off. When a batsman backs away, he usually targets either the extra-cover (when it's full) or square (when short). But to hit over long-off requires a lot of elements to sync perfectly, like the power behind the shot, the perfection in placement and beyond it a flexible mind. For, Southee was sharp enough to detect Iyer's plan and followed him with a back-of-length ball at his body. But Iyer was sharper in adjusting and cleared the front-leg (it was beyond the wide-marker), so that he could get a lot of power behind the shot, and he ended almost out of the turf in his follow-through. Iyer showed that one could premeditate a shot, without overtly committing to it.

Shreyas Iyer hits Tim Southee for a maximum (Hotstar screengrab)

The shuffle flick (17.2)
Required rate: 25 off 17
A classic instance of Iyer's intuition. As soon as medium-pacer Hamish Bennett started coming around the wicket, Iyer second-guessed his intentions, that he would target the middle and leg stump with full deliveries. So he began shuffling across as the bowler was in his delivery stride and pick him on the leg-side. The first ball, on off-stump, was twirled past fine-leg. The next, he knew, would be on the middle-stump. So he shuffled across even wider, got deeper in the crease so that he could get under the ball and convert the low full-toss into a more productive half-volley, and flicked the ball, pitched on off-stump, between long-on and mid-wicket. He was also front-on than sideways in his stance, as it opened up a bigger scoring arc on the legs.

Shreyas Iyer using his wrists against debutant Hamish Bennett (Hotstar screengrab)

The almost Dhoni pull (16.1)
Required rate: 38 off 23
A bit MS Dhoni-like in deliverance. Iyer moved across a fraction, covered the line and hopped at the point of impact like the former Indian captain when he would pull and glided it over fine leg. The finesse of the short was remarkable, as was the daring because even slight misjudgement can make the batsman look utterly silly. The most remarkable aspect of the shot was fast his sized up the length of the ball, coming at around 140kmph, and moved into a position that would enable him to unfurl the pull. Once he was in his position, he was still at the crease, waiting for the ball than reaching for it. Had he stayed where he was at the crease, it could have come awkwardly into his body, denying him the width to play the pull.

Shreyas Iyer plays a pull shot for six in Auckland T20I (Hotstar screengrab)

Wristy Rahul (4.5)
Required rate: 157 off 92
KL Rahul's leg-side mastery is often lost in his off-side expertise. You notice his masterful cover drives and lofted shots over extra-cover. But the flicked-six off Blair Tickner would attest to his range of mind-boggling leg-side strokes. He left no hints of flicking the particular delivery, just pressed forward, as if he's intending to defend it, before at the exact point of contact he twirled the bat, guiding the ball over square leg. The batswing was non-existent, the bat came down straight and not diagonally as when batsmen flick. Resultantly, there wasn’t much of a follow-through either. It was like a short-arm flick. If you freeze his follow-up frame, you'd assume he had played a gentle on-drive.

KL Rahul using the pace of Kiwi bowler to hit the ball a long way (Hotstar screengrab)

Kohli, straight and sweet (3.1)
Required rate: 173 off 102 balls
The Indian skipper's favourite six-hitting arc on the off-side is between long-off and extra-cover. His strikes are generally flatter too--the batswing is barely extravagant. He often strides out to the pitch and powers it beyond the ropes. But on this occasion, he just made a firm front-foot thrust and went through with the stroke, more in vintage Tendulkar fashion than the characteristic Kohli way. Such balls, more so in other formats, he is wont to driving through the extra cover, slightly opening the face of the bat. But maybe, because it’s T20s and the ground was small that he went for the extravagant loft. And it made a beautiful sight—the sweet batswing as magnificent as the imperious follow-through.

Virat Kohli hits the ball over the bowler's head for a maximum (Hotstar screengrab)