(First published at sportskeeda)
(Pic curtsey - FoxSports)
The peculiarity of the match -
39-year-old Sachin opening the innings with 38-year-old Ricky Ponting, 40-year-old Muralitharan bowling in tandem with a 36-year-old Murali Karthik with a 36-year-old Dilshan fielding at point – the RCB-MI match last night had all the makings of a match between two veteran teams. If there are any proponents of the theory – T20 is only for those who spend less on the candles than their birthday cakes – they must have been left agape last night.
RCB innings: The Gayle-storm
RCB’s start was typical. Chris Gayle started slowly but that didn’t deter other batsmen from getting out at a rapid pace. Slowly, Gayle picked up the pace, hitting boundaries and strolling to take singles, if at all he needed to. His typical stand-on-one-leg-and-hit-out innings has been the story of RCB – they are quite like a one-man army when it comes to batting. It was a typical ‘Gayle propelling RCB’ story.
The Munaf moment -
But the moment of the match came in the last ball of their innings when Gayle sent Munaf’s ‘so wide that you won’t be able to reach it’ ball over the point boundary for six.
Had it been Anil Kumble, he would have killed the point fielder just with his looks. Kumble’s eyes would have said, “Dude, can’t you jump and catch it? That’s just fifteen feet. I am ashamed to live in a world where people like you also breathe.”
Had it been Glen McGrath, he would have sledged the batsman.
Had it been Ajit Agarkar, he would have looked as if his modesty had been outraged.
Had it been Wasim Akram, he would have snatched his cap from that umpire’s hand so hard that the umpire would have been at the risk of losing his fingers.
Sreesanth would have run back to the dressing room. Harbhajan would have followed and slapped Sreesanth. Sreesanth would have howled.
But it was Munaf Patel. What did he do? He just shrugged his shoulders as if saying, “What the hell can I do? It’s not my fault that he has hit it for six.”
Munaf will always be Munaf. There is a theory in cricket that good players always have the ability to forget about the last ball and think about the next. Maybe that’s what Munaf was suggesting, “What the hell can I do? Forget it”. I am sure Munaf Patel would have already started thinking about the next ball – I mean his batting.
MI’s innings: The legends at the start
As MI’s innings started, the entire universe stood standstill. Who would have thought that one day, Ponting and Sachin, two of the greatest batsmen of our era, would open the innings together.
Seizing the moment, Ravi Shastri announced on air – “Only IPL can make it possible”.
To be fair, both of them looked like the fossils of giant dinosaurs. If timing of the shots was fine, they found fielders. If they found gaps, timing wasn’t there. As a result, MI’s start was slow. But they didn’t get out and the start was steady.
In Sachin and Ponting’s better days, a bowler like Jayadev Unadkat might well have refused to bowl to these two. Last night, Unadkat looked good. As they say, nothing is more powerful than time.
MI’s innings – GenNext in the middle
Karthik and Rohit Sharma took over from the legends. To my surprise, Rohit Sharma lasted more than two minutes. Maybe he was bored of instant noodles and wanted to have proper food last night.
How desperate some of India’s experts are to prove that there is greatness in Rohit, was witnessed last night as well.
As Sanjay Manjrekar was going gaga over Sharma, he suddenly shouted “Great shot.”
I started looking for greatness in that shot because according to me, if you have been bowled, that means you have missed the shot. When did missing a shot become a great shot?
Manjrekar corrected himself, “But he is bowled. Good ball, kept it straight.”
The experts seem hell bent on proving that there is hope in Rohit Sharma. Sharma is equally desperate to prove them wrong. When two powers of equal might collide, you do get to see a good battle but the problem is that status quo doesn’t change. That’s what has been happening with Rohit Sharma. Let’s hope at least one of these two powers gives up, because it has become boring now.
Dinesh Karthik proved his worth. So did Daniel Christian. Maybe both of them did it for Sachin – circa WC 2011. An over of madness brought back the routine thrill of IPL. There are the moments which make Ravi Shastri shout “It could be touch and go.”
MI’s end: The South African choke
As has been the case with MI, they behaved like the Indian team of the 90s. Or perhaps MI is the South Africa of IPL – always choking.
RCB won. Like always, Gayle came on one leg to pick up his MOM award.
If MI has to proceed, they need to get Malinga fit, change their opening combination, make sure Rohit Sharma starts liking normal food, and try solving the South African conundrum of choking.
This is for MSD bashers
Oh by the way, my dear MSD bashers, don’t you think Ponting would have called up MSD last night and said, “Mate, I salute you. I won two World Cups but I had McGrath. How the hell did you manage to win one with Munaf?”