Once again the uncertain nature of the T20 format came to the fore when Mumbai Indians were defeated by a big margin by the Chennai Superkings in the eliminator. The Chennai team had lost both their earlier encounters to the Mumbai team but when it came to the game that mattered they raised the level of their game and beat the much fancied Mumbai team. They will now take on the team that finished top of the points table Delhi for the right to play the Kolkatta Knightriders in the finals on Sunday.
In the T20 format chances are to be taken and many a gamble has turned out trumps for the team but there has also to be a cricketing thinking behind those gambles. That thinking has not been seen with most teams this season and so some moves have flopped miserably.
There is little room for tactics in the game since it is a slam bang format but it is here that a good captain will use his bowling resources well. He will know when to bring his best bowlers on and when to risk another over from a lesser bowler. Gautam Gambhir has got this right more times than others and that is why his team is in the finals on Sunday. Sekar backs Delhi batsmen to come good vs CSK
Sehwag on the other hand missed a trick or two. To give the last over of the Kolkatta innings to Varun Aaron who has just come out of injury was an unnecessary risk and it didn’t work as Aaron was taken for 21 runs. Captains usually have their best bowler bowling the last over of the innings when they are fielding first and the penultimate over of the innings when they are defending a total.
The idea is quite simple. If the opposition has wickets in hand they will go hell for leather in the final overs and it is here that the best bowler will be able to stop them. While defending if there are 20 runs needed then it will be better for the best bowler to bowl the penultimate over and give away say six runs and that will make it easier for the lesser bolwer to defend 14 runs. On the other hand a lesser bowler may concede 16 runs in the penultimate over and that leaves no pressure on the batsmen to get the runs needed off the best bowler in the team.
Sehwag also went in with four seam bowlers and that too on Indian pitches where it is easier to use the extra pace to score off than against spinners. Gambhir got it right by picking three spinners plus Yusuf Pathan’s off spin and with the canny Rajat Bhatia slowing it down it was tough for the batsmen looking for the pace off the pitch to go for the big shots.
Dhoni too has got Ashwin and Jakati to bowl spin. Ashwin has been particularly impressive because he has not been afraid to flight the ball and tempt the batsmen into going for the sixer. By flighting the ball he also takes the pace off it and slows it and is thus more effective.
Chennai though have to use Albie Morkel’s batting. He didn’t get to bat in the eliminator and was luckily not needed as Dhoni and Bravo did the bit but he can, not just destroy the bowling but can demoralise the opposition in doing so. Delhi too have Sehwag and Warner who can dish out the same treatment so if all goes well there could be sixes galore in the clash between the North and the South.