Today, I wore my Chennai Superkings shirt (of Dhoni #7) to work. Hey, you gotta support your team, even if you are 8000 miles away! CSK took on the Deccan Chargers, the champions of IPL 2009, in the 2nd semifinal of the 2010 tournament. On paper and form, DC had the upper hand, but the way CSK stormed in to the semis gave us – the loyal CSK fans – a lot of hope. since the IPL games start at a slightly awkward time here in the eastern coast of U.S., I although have a subscription to a live stream of the games, I cannot really watch ’em all. Usually, I just leave the cricinfo window open and the stream running with the headphones on. So, if a wicket falls or something real exciting happens, I take a quick gander at the video stream.
I was a bit nervous at the start of the game but Dhoni won an important toss. I am of the opinion that, in a big game, its always better to bat first. The first few overs were horrendous to watch as a CSK fan. Mattie Hayden looked completely out of sorts but M. Vijay was looking his usual self – stylish and aggressive. Thanks to atrocious catching by DC, the damage was slightly delayed. At 29/3, it was rebuilding time for CSK and, Dhoni in the company of Badrinath went about it quite admirably. The top order collapse, probably had something do with the good bounce off the pitch and a little bit movement that was available for the bowlers. When it looked like Dhoni had got his eye in and was ready to kick on, one of the finds of this IPL – Harmeet Singh, took him out with a wide slow leg cutter. Albie Morkel tried the big shot a little too soon and perished in the deep. A little bit of big hitting from Anirudha Srikanth took Chennai to a reasonable total, that they could defend, if they bowled and fielded well.
Sometimes, I wish I could be a fly on the wall and listen in on these pre-game or change of inning talks by the captains and coaches of professional cricket team. I wonder what Dhoni must have told his teammates before going out to defend 142. He seems so serene on the field, perhaps, he is a little more fiery in the dressing room.
Ashwin and Bollinger came out and put on a show on how to defend a moderate total, in a big game. They both gave no easy deliveries for the DC openers. Kept a good length, changed pace, provided no width for the batsmen to get a free swing of the arms. The pressure started telling on Gilly and Gibbs. I thought Gibbs was an interesting choice by DC to bring in to this game. He had been off-boil throughout the tournament and seemed out of sorts. He missed the games leading up to the semis and to suddenly bringing him in for the semis was an odd choice by Gilly. Yeah, he is (mostly was) a great player who can swing the game quite quickly but why would you wanna change your top order suddenly. I thought the line up of Gilly, Monish, Suman, Rohit sharma and Roy were doing the job for DC.
Gibbs, by struggling to get the ball of square, put pressure on his partners, i thought, and made a routine chase, a big messy affair. To CSK’s credit, their bowlers stuck to their task with a very solid effort by their fielders. Took their catches, kept the pressure on DC through the chase. Slowly, and very surely, they choked the run flow and pushed the DC batters in to indiscretions from which there was no coming back. Eventually, CSK won by 38 runs and now, have a date with the Mumbai Indians on Sunday. This is gonna be a tough match to watch as any red blooded Indian cricket fan, cannot really be rooting against a team that has Sachin Tendulkar in it. I hope for the sake of all the CSK fans, SRT does not play the finals so that we can all support CSK without any guilt.