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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Slinga Malinga excels ~ bleeding Watto repays Dhoni's faith ..

The connoisseur of Test Cricket may have some adverse comments to make – yet there can be no denial of the fact that IPL has come to stay – the best way is to keep away all your idiosyncrasies and watch the game as novice – IPL 2019 is over. We enjoyed the game thoroughly and the finish – the last ball finish of finals !

Jasprit Bumrah (2-14) wass the Man of the Match. With his strange action, he has become a great bowler and this IPL has been good for him.  Not only he bowled a great penultimate over but stayed cool throughout – he held the match under his control, the last ball, Jadeja tried to cut, went to Quinton de Kock who let the ball bounce of his gloves for a bye 4.  Bumrah smiled, much like what Shikhar Dhawan or Umesh Yadav would do in a dire circumstance, and in passing de Kock calmly touched him with a reassurance – a sign of maturity and mental strength – and only 9 required off the last over .. it appeared to be CSK’s way .. not to be.

This IPL did see some falter - Kuldeep Yadav, India's premier left-arm wristspinner, had a season to forget, taking only four wickets in nine games before being shanked out of the Kolkata Knight Riders XI after being torn apart by Royal Challengers Bangalore.  Not sure whether his confidence was dented or the team did not back him up – that way Dhoni would stand out for his backing players, be it Watson or Rayudu.   Harbhajan Singh proved that he is still worthy especially on the turners at  MA Chidambaram Stadium.  Of the 11 games that Harbhajan played this season, eight were at home, and his ability to find the breakthrough in the Powerplay overs made him all the more potent.  The wily  Lasith Malinga was back and back at his best with the last over of IPL 2019.  With Mayank Markande returning to build on a successful IPL 2018, very few would have given Rahul Chahar a chance to become a first XI regular. But the legspinner rose to prominence with  13 wickets at an economy of 6.55.  Jasprit Bumrah "is the best bowler in the world at this stage", declared Sachin Tendulkar, the Mumbai Indians icon, after the paceman had returned 2 for 14 to star in their IPL 2019 final win over Chennai Super Kings on Sunday. His returns - not a boundary hit off his 24 balls, and 13 dot balls thrown in - were incredible all right, making him a straight pick for the Man of the Match award too.

Fittingly enough for the finals, it was last over, last ball humdinger. Slinga Malinga, not the fierce bowler once he was bowling to nervy Shardul Thakur.  A packed crowd of 33,209 at Rajiv Gandhi International stadium, Hyderabad and millions on TV and every other gadget were tense.  MI Captain Rohit Sharma  was Thakur's first captain in first-class cricket at Mumbai and more recently in 2018 he had captained Thakur in that Nidahas T20I tri-series in Sri Lanka.  The first five balls from Malinga were all pinpoint yorkers or hard-to-hit low full-tosses that were clocked at 142.3kph, 143kph, 141.7kph, 140.6kph and 140.3kph. Sunil Gavaskar on air reckoned Malinga "doesn't have the pace anymore". But, here was Malinga - creaky knees and all - willing himself to breach the 140kph mark again and again.

The final delivery when a mere 2 or even 1 was required, was a slower dipping Yorker from Malinga - a 112.3kph slower ball floated into the toes of Thakur, but it still had the torpedo effect of a yorker.  Malinga had won it – the cup for MI.  the tall  Kieron Pollard hoisted Malinga on his shoulders and ferried him around the ground. Malinga's former Sri Lanka captain and current Mumbai coach Mahela Jayawardene then indulged in some bromance that might have made Kumar Sangakkara jealous.  Watson had lined him up in the last over of the Powerplay, scything him away for three boundaries.
Thakur was not a first choice for CSK who relied on Deepak Chahar who delivered throughout.  He bounced out de Kock, nabbed Rohit in a wicket-maiden and then bounced out Krunal Pandya.  Thakur could have had Hardik Pandya, too, on 4 had Suresh Raina not misjudged a skier at cover.  His performance limited MI to 149 for 8. But, his chances against Malinga's magical slower ball under pressure was zero.

CSK critics were braying for blood of Watson, calling him a non-performer and seeking he be sacked .. .. Shane Watson had the most fragile body in Australian cricket but a bit of blood wasn’t going to stop him from letting loose in the IPL final.

In the crunch game, Watson almost proved the saviour in a nailbiting run chase, slamming 80 from 59 balls in a one-man show as his side tried to chase down the Mumbai Indians’ 8/149.  Watson was one of just three Chennai players to reach double figures — the next best score was Faf du Plessis’ 26 — and his eight fours and four sixes kept the Super Kings’ hopes of another IPL title alive until they were cruelly dashed at the death.  The Aussie all-rounder was the only thing standing between Chennai and a crushing defeat in the final and a photo highlighted by teammate Harbhajan Singh showed just how far the right-hander was willing to go to chase victory.

In the aftermath of the thrilling decider Singh posted a photo on his Instagram story showing Watson, on bended knee, flaying a ball through the off side. The image shows a large patch of blood on his left upper thigh and Singh revealed how the opening batsman wasn’t going to be stopped by the flesh wound. “Can you guys see the blood on his knee,” Singh wrote. “He got 6 stitches after the game … got injured while diving but continue (sic) to bat without telling anyone. “That’s our @srwatson33, almost pulled it (off) for us last night.”   Having faced criticism at times during his international career for poor body language, there was no way Watson was going to let on about his bloodbath as he powered through the pain barrier to almost steal the IPL title from Mumbai’s grasp.  Watson announced his retirement from the Big Bash League (BBL) earlier this year.

 “Both (teams) committed mistakes, and eventually the winning team was the one that committed one mistake less.” Watson, who was dropped three times during his knock, and Dwayne Bravo brought the target down to 42 required off the final four overs when they smashed 20 runs off Malinga’s 16th over. Jasprit Bumrah (2/14) then bowled two impressive overs and also had Bravo caught behind.  Watson’s heroics weren’t enough for Chennai as another oldie Malinga successfully defended 9 off the last 6.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
14th May 2019.

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