Nathan Coulter-Nile recovered from his concussion just in time to break Hyderabad's batting backbone. © BCCI

Nathan Coulter-Nile recovered from his concussion just in time to break Hyderabad’s batting backbone. © BCCI

Since being clattered on the helmet grille by a nasty bouncer from Dan Christian, Nathan Coulter-Nile’s participation in the Indian Premier League 2017 had been in question.

For two weeks, the Australian paceman was out of action due to a concussion, and Kolkata Knight Riders missed their on-song man paceman. There were signs of a return in their last league game against Mumbai Indians, but Gautam Gambhir, the Kolkata skipper, insisted on resting him further.

Even his availability for the Eliminator against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Bangalore felt in doubt as he dragged himself through a practice session at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium as languidly as humanly possible.

Only when he brought out the measuring tape to mark his run up on Wednesday (May 17) was it clear that he would be playing. Gambhir made it official at the toss and Coulter-Nile was back.

“I really didn’t know what to expect (after getting hit on the helmet). The next day I was fine. I felt normal. No headaches or anything like that,” said the Australian after the game.

“But then two days later, had bad headaches. I couldn’t get out of bed. We flew to Bangalore and we were here for 3-4 days and I didn’t get out of bed even once. It was something I hadn’t experienced and hadn’t expected. I didn’t really know what to do.

“So I went to a few doctors and stuff like that. I was told to wait it out and rest it out. I was still pretty bad a couple of days ago. I woke up this morning and I was fine. So thought might as well give it a crack.”

He felt so fine that a few hours later he broke Hyderabad’s back by returning figures of 3 for 20 from four overs. His fourth three-for in seven matches won him his third Man of the Match award this season.

When asked about his strategy on a wicket of this nature, he simply rubbed his beard and searched for words as if he didn’t have any. Eventually he settled on attributing his success to bowling with a cross-seam.

“Today it was about bowling cross-seam and digging it into the wicket,” he offered. “That was just communicated through the bowlers. Umesh (Yadav) and Boulty (Trent Boult) told me that before I even started bowling. I think I bowled the seventh or eighth over, and they just said ‘cross seamers into the wicket were really hard to hit’. You rely on your team-mates to give you pointers on what to do.”

Coulter-Nile’s laid-back attitude remained in perfectly in character when asked about the mood in the dressing room during the three-hour rain delay.

“The mood was really good actually. They were all playing French cricket or something up and about. I was actually trying to get some sleep in the chair and telling them to shut up,” said the 29-year-old. “No one really got nervous till they went for that last look at 12.30 am. It sort of looked like that they didn’t want to play. But yeah, there was so much time.”

Only upon gazing at the clock in the media room and noticing that it was 2 am did he slip out of character. “It’s two o’clock! The rules probably need to be looked at. You can’t play cricket at 2!” he exclaimed.