Monday, April 28, 2008

Bungling Bangalore's "royal challenge" thwarted by cool Chennai Kings

The Bangalore team unceremoniously named after a liquor brand is playing as if it has consumed a lot of the product it is advertising. And not just for fun - but quaffing it by the barrel a la Devdas, trying to forget some bygone woe. It also looks like the team was selected with assistance from the same product. The Red and Yellow brigade is all blue inside.

Yesterday's match against Chennai at Bangalore was a golden opportunity for the team to start afresh in the competition after a series of demoralizing defeats. And they were almost there. One careless shot here shouldn't cost the team the match itself. But that was it, exactly.

Jacques Kallis tried to chase one wide outside the off-stump and got picked up by Dhoni. And from there it was all downhill. The great wall of Indian Cricket caved in meekly like a heap of uncemented bricks on the first delivery though he could be termed a bit unfortunate.

Rahul Dravid, who apparently played a major role in the selection of the team has managed to select what a disgruntled supporter chose to aptly term as "the best Test team". Wasim Jaffer, Chanderpaul and Kallis with Dravid and Kumble! When things are not going well for the team, it looks up to the captain. But what do they see? A captain who is probably more worried than the players! To compound Dravid's lack of innovative captaincy, he has so far had a completely forgettable tournament with the bat with a golden pair in the last couple of outings.

Chennai did not have a good bowling attack yesterday. Though Goni and Palani are promising bowlers, they lack experience. Bangalore's bowlers - Zaheer Khan and Dale Steyn are more seasoned campaigners with the non-tyro Jacques Kallis doing a decent job with the ball. However, Dhoni's blitzkrieg (it is a worn out metaphor - but perfectly applicable here) kept the match finally beyond the Challengers. And what a pitiful name for the team! They just challenge royally, but what of the result?

The difference ultimately, in my opinion, came down to Dhoni's captaincy and approach to the game. Dhoni truly seems to believe that this is ultimately a game. The potential loss of contract lucre doesn't seem to affect Dhoni's demeanor on the field. Dravid, who is a gentleman on and off the field doesn't make the cut here. His body language betrays his feelings and his performance does not lead from the front. Dhoni keeps wickets and advises his bowlers frequently. But never have I seen him angry or melancholy. And his batting! This leads me to think if the optimistic and shrewd Kumble is a better match to Dhoni's icyness.

If an already retired bowler like Shane Warne could make 19 runs of the last over off Symonds to carry his team to victory, I don't understand how a supposedly seasoned batsman like Dravid could manage only 34 runs in 4 matches! Of course, Ponting and Ganguly give Dravid abundant company in the matter. For really good players, the format of the game should not matter. Why, I have seen Dravid score a 22-ball 50 against New Zealand!

They say "Form is temporary and class is permanent". I believe Dravid to be of the latter category - but for how long can Bangalore wait?

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