Almost 24 hours later, I still haven’t been able to make peace with our loss to Kings XI Punjab. It’s one thing losing a game, but another if you lose one that you should have won easily. In our case, we played poorly. It seemed that while victory was knocking on the front door, we were all busy welcoming defeat from the back. To crystallize reasons, I’d begin with myself. My failure to rotate strike and aggregating plenty of dot balls against my name impacted our progress.
After a point, desperation got the better of me. I was like a CEO who had fallen short of results in the first three quarters. To make amends in the final one, the desperate chief executive rides on further risks, plunging the organisation further. Instead of looking to rotate strike and put Chris Lynn in charge, I kept thinking boundaries and ended up nowhere, with just eight runs off 18 balls.
My failure was followed by Robin getting out first ball and Manish Pandey having an off day. This meant that pressure was on Lynn. After a point, he couldn’t figure out whether to go big or be conservative. The run rate was rising, but wasn’t too demanding at the time. I could see dejection in Robin’s eyes when he came off the field.
The disappointment was so deep that even while sitting next to each other on the breakfast table the next morning, we didn’t speak at all. Even his wife Sheetal, who is usually vivacious, concentrated on her dosa rather than have a chat. Everyone seemed to be stung by what happened against Punjab.
Some might fault our batting order too. On a slow pitch was there a case for me partnering Lynn to open the batting? Maybe, maybe not. There’s a view that Robin and Manish are coming in a little too late due to Sunil and Lynn opening the batting.
At times it is tough for batsmen to come in and start hitting from ball one. The bowlers from Kings XI deserve unabashed praise too. They made the target a lot bigger than what it was. Spinners Axar Patel and Rahul Tewatia bowled with the accuracy of a Google map. We know what Axar can do, but Tewatia was a real champion for his team. He varied his pace, line and flight. A wrist spinner finds it hard to tame accuracy, but it looks like Tewatia bowled with a GPS tracker.
The Sharmas — Sandeep and Mohit — were brilliant too. Mohit used the knuckleball well. It is one thing mastering a variation, but another timing its use. A knuckleball is tough to master, and is something cricket has borrowed from baseball. In baseball, it is used by a pitcher (the guy who throws the ball) from a stationary position. With due respect, cricketers like Mohit deserve credit for putting this variation into practice while sprinting in full speed.
It’s funny how a human mind interprets situations. On the way from Kolkata airport to our hotel, there are quite a few billboards with me and my KKR team-mates. When we win, I look at my most glum looking face on the billboard and tell myself, ‘nice pic Gauti, good intensity’. After a loss, when I look at even the most pleasing picture my mind says, ‘come on Gauti, that’s so fake’. Saturday is our last game in Kolkata. I hope on Sunday when we’re going to the airport I absolutely adore even the most dreadful picture of mine beaming out of those hoardings.Dinesh Chopra Media