Oye! it's all about cricket - Anurag Punetha

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Warne continues to cast a spell

As far as gimmickry goes, the Super Over is a super idea. Just like the tie-breaker in football, it encapsulates all the thrills, frills and
heartbreaks that cricket can offer in miniature form। The important thing is, for the first time, the bowler has an equal chance in the contest. He begins with the assumption that he will go for a few boundaries; but if he can slip in a smart delivery or outwit the batter, the pendulum swings dramatically in his favour. Crucially, every player still has a role to play in the Super Over, unlike in , where it is a straight fight between the shooter and the goalie. A special catch, a brilliant runout and the pressure immediately hovers over the other side. After all, every dismissal is also a dot ball. The tension was palpable in both the dugouts, as Team Jaipur won the 6-ball slugfest on Thursday night; the ease with which they handled those nail-chomping moments clearly shows that Shane Warne hasn’t lost his magic. He might still spring a surprise even though his side doesn’t look as formidable as it did last year. This might be just the momentum he needed to shift gears and pick up speed. Warne was inspirational as the Knight Riders assailed their 150-run target too: he made bold bowling changes and took risks too, even by tossing the new ball to Yusuf Pathan. With Chris Gayle and Brendon McCullum, two of the game’s biggest hitters opening for KR, it could easily have backfired. But as it usually happens in Warne’s case, with his chosen batsman or bowler suddenly transforming into a champion, it worked again. The choices of the two teams were fascinating though. Gayle and McCullum were automatic options but Ajantha Mendis as the man with the ball was curious. No doubt, he bowled a dazzling spell, conceding only 19 for two in his four overs earlier. But, despite all his mystery and guile, a spinner is always a risky choice when it comes down to one over. Add dew to the equation and it looks suicidal. Team Jaipur, on the other hand, opened with Yusuf and Ravindra Jadeja. Logically, Graeme Smith, with all his experience and knowledge of local conditions, would have been the best bet. But Warne opted for Jadeja which gave him a clean hitter and a left-right combination too. Jadeja didn’t need to do anything, with Yusuf smashing 6, 2, 6 and 4 to steal the match straight up. Warne gambled even more by handing the ball to Kamran Khan, a raw pacer with a gawky action. Why didn’t he bowl it himself? Was it because Kamran had bowled the last over too, just a few minutes earlier, and must have been charged up? The inexperienced lad conceded just three boundaries to Gayle who usually talks only in सिक्सेर्स. Fifteen runs in one over was always going to be as easy as polishing off macher-jol . For the Knight Rider, who were on the cusp of victory when Sourav Ganguly was batting, it was a devastating end. They are now in the familiar position at the bottom of the table. They may have unearthed the mystery blogger within their ranks, but their problems have only begun. As for the rest of the teams, keep your eye on Mumbai Indians and Team Hyderabad.

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