After the IPL final, a few fans were left asking a lot of questions. How did a team with two of the best batsmen, a young emerging player, an in-form player and the best finisher scuff up a chase of 6.5 runs per over in a T20 game. What was even more baffling was the fact that the current Australian Test captain could chip Sunil Narine on the last ball over extra cover for two runs. But he failed to score 7 off the last 4 balls against a former team mate who has retired from all forms of international cricket. A player who was out of action for more than the better part of last year.
Steve Smith smacked the ball straight down the throat of the only fielder on the off side stationed outside the 30 yard circle. After the first innings, the only way viewers though Mumbai Indians could’ve won the match was by bowling out the opposition and yet Pune fell 1 run short of the target with 4 wickets still in hand. Was the botched up chase a result of the slow surface or was it a matter of self-explosion? Here are a few points that could help one understand the answer better.
The Wicket That Wasn’t
Hyderabad has produced indifferent pitches all through the season with few games providing totals close to 200 while some short of even 140. Yes, the wicket on the day of the final was a slow one with the ball not coming on to the bat nicely while few slower balls gripped and a few other skidded on.
Having seen this, Pune might’ve opted for the smarter option which was the Mahi way of keeping wickets in hand and taking the game till the last over and the runs at a healthy rate were bound to come in the end as was the case in the first innings when Mumbai Indians batted and the eight-wicket partnership between Krunal Pandya and Mitchell Johnson yielded 50 runs off the last 35 balls. But as is the case with Cricket and finals more so, the game is played on the field with two men handling the pressure of the scoreboard against eleven.
Bowlers Play The Game Too
With the amount of T20 cricket that is being consumed these days people expect that the game is almost the batsmen’s to lose. But it is important to acknowledge that the bowlers work hard on their skills too. On some days they are bound to turn matches on their head like batsmen so often do in high scoring games.
Mumbai Indians boasted of probably two of the best death bowlers in their prime, an upcoming superstar of a death bowler, a leggie full of confidence and a left arm spinner coming off his best innings of the tournament in the context of the game. That does count for something in a tight game of cricket.
The Big Final
Knockouts and finals are never easy fixtures, ask South Africa and RCB. The scoreboard pressure is real too. The convention has always been to bat first and put runs on the board. Had it not been for T20s, flat wickets, and dew the convention would’ve stayed intact. On any other day, Manoj Tiwary and Steve Smith would’ve finished off a 7 from 5 equation in a canter.
But this was the big final, all the work that had been put in over 7 excruciatingly labour-some weeks would culminate in a matter of minutes to decide the team’s fate of being champions or runners up, read first losers and that too forever in RPS’s case as this was their last season in IPL. Shots that would go to boundaries went to hand in this situation and it was Mumbai who stamped their authority on the first decade of IPL.
While the talk has been about the low scoring pitches and lack of intent from the batsmen, one needs to understand that these factors play a major role in a game of cricket and every player on the field is trying to win the match but things don’t go according to the plan all the time and it’s always going to be the team that handles the nerves better in such situations that comes out victorious.