I thought I should share with you a short review article, which I wrote on the performance of the team of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the Indian Premier League (Season 3). Those of you, who have read the other article (Cricket, a tryst with destiny) would easily point out the contradiction (opportunism?) in my thought process. If you read my review, I hope you would find that I refer only to the cricketing aspects of cricket. However, it is still hard to believe that I could write what I wrote in the following review. As though, to make my position more miserable, the review won a poster signed by Rahul Dravid. Is there a lesson in it? I don’t know. I think this is a good chance to provide evidence for the sort of contradiction, which I have talked about in my introduction (Why danappiah007?). Another short-post on another blog, which I had made after Anil Kumble retired in 2008 (True Champion), would probably tell you why I follow RCB. I tend to believe both Anil Kumble and Rahul Dravid would understand my position. Do you? here is the review…
The Royal Challengers were on a down hill slope during the third phase of IPL 3 and scraping into the semi finals just by the virtue of their healthy net run rate did not help either. It showed that whenever they won a match they won it well but it also showed that they lost some matches very badly. The latter is a bad habit of RCBians, which cost them dearly in IPL 1 and unfortunately the same recurred during the important phases of IPL 3.
I would argue that in cricket’s 20-20 format, there is nothing called as ‘winning momentum’, although ironically almost all the team captains in the tournament kept on referring to the term ‘momentum’ whenever they won a match. However there is ample evidence to suggest that ‘losing momentum’ does exist in cricket irrespective of its format. It is similar to a batsman struggling to find form. When a batsman is in good form, he could still fail in two successive matches (due to either his own stupidity or a brilliant individual opponent) and a similar thing happened to the Mumbai Indians during their crunch final encounter. On the other hand, even after winning some matches in the second phase, the Royal Challengers failed to make it to the finals because they were suffering from a slump in form. Cricketers always find it difficult to come back to good form because when they try to do that they are aware of their bad form. Where as slipping into a bad patch is a much more mysterious process which cricketers cannot avoid because they never feel it.
I would like to add that during the second/third phase, Anil Kumble made a lot of changes to his playing line up. Although 20-20 format is considered to be very fluid and there are no specialists in it, Kumble’s strategy to shuffle the batting order during the critical phase of the tournament did not work. To be fair to Kumble, his own performances were from the top draw throughout the tournament. He set plenty of examples for fair and bold play. However, many of his team mates, especially Praveen Kumar and Manish Pandey did not fulfill their captain’s faith in them.
I would like to narrate an incident from an RCB match during the second phase of IPL3. Technically this match is put under second phase. I see this as a match that belonged to the third phase.
I could hear Kumble through the stump microphones when he was batting during one of the matches against Deccan Chargers (match 46). We were nine down chasing 151 set by DC and we had almost lost the match. He shouted at Appanna in Kannada as “BaarO BaarO’ when he was trying to steal a second run. Appanna failed to make his end and was run out. RCB lost the match.
For me, this incident summed up the story of our team during the final phase of IPL3. Kumble was still trying as he always does. The fact that he had to bat several times during the critical phase of the tournament including the semifinals (mind you, during the first phase of IPL3 Dravid did not get a chance to bat on many occasions!) showed that RCB were struggling. As a consolation prize to their over all performance levels, RCB did manage to qualify for the Champions league. Personally, I really felt happy for Vinay Kumar, who deservedly won a place in the national team. During this IPL, RCB had several players from Karnataka and as a result I was lucky to listen to their on-field conversations in Kannada.