There is no thrill in a finals match, unless the teams are evenly matched in all departments. Certainly this applies to cricket – it is better to witness a thrilling cricket match, rather than a pre-ordained one with hardly any adrenaline flowing.
The Sunday (27th May) finals of the IPL (Indian Premier League) Competition which was held in Chennai between the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) teams was one such thriller. KKR was already in the finals, and CSK fought its way into the finals by winning the play-offs against two other teams (the Mumbai Indians team and the Delhi Dare Devils team). It was anyway expected to be a good finals match, but the odds were heavily in favour of the CSK team winning the finals.
So, when the CSK team batted first and set a high target of 191 runs for the KKR team to beat, there was jubilation amongst the Chennai fans – as expected, the stadium was full of CSK supporters, being the home base of the CSK team. Hence the moral and physical show of support was just phenomenal for the CSK team, and obviously they were very much encouraged. Had they won this finals, it would have been a neat hat-trick for CSK, having won the previous two titles in two previous years at the IPL finals.
But then, such fine teams are made up of fine players, and it was to be expected that there would be a tough fight – only that hardly anyone expected KKR to put up a valiant fight, rightfully so after the KKR team lost their Captain Gambhir in the first over of the match itself – they had hardly started batting. So, the whole stadium was expecting a total rout of the KKR team by the CSK bowlers and its well-oiled fielding formation.
However, that was not to be. Maninder Bisla of the KKR team played an outstanding game with a score of 89 runs – many of them fours and sixes. He was totally unfazed with the fact that KKR’s captain had just fallen and the figure to beat looked unachievable, atleast initially. But bat he did, without batting an eyelid. And Jacques Kallis, that most experienced all-rounder of the KKR team ably supported Bisla, allowing Bisla the space needed for quick run scoring.
Overall, this was a turnaround story crafted by these two fine players, and even though wickets fell at a faster clip thereafter, it was only a question of some firmness on the part of couple of latter KKR players, especially Tiwari, who could swing the bat effectively for couple of fours which sealed KKR’s win ultimately.
But what I did not like seeing was the lack of “captaincy” by Gautam Gambhir (Captain of KKR team), demonstrating that he is still far too young to lead a major team. Yes, KKR did win the IPL Finals and Gambhir was their Captain, no doubt. But, many a time when the camera focused on Gambhir, he could be seen sulking and brooding, and looking down on the floor, and it appeared that he could not accept his own dismal performance, and more so, he could not handle the stress which comes as part of such very competitive matches. He appeared to have given up hopes for a win, and that in itself, was bad. There was no sense of direction in him apparently, and he was not seen discussing strategy or providing guidance (unlike MS Dhoni, Captain of the CSK team who constantly engaged with his team working on alternative strategies for winning the match). Energy levels are critical in competition and as Captain, the least which Gambhir should have shown is his own energy level, pushing, goading and advising his team rather than sitting there in the pavilion with zero energy.
Well, well, that was the match of the year – KKR taking away the IPL Finals Trophy away from CSK to their home base of Kolkata. Very well done, indeed.
28th May 2012