I grew up listening to radio commentary and often heard Suresh Saraiya utter, "he plays confidently and competently forward to this one." For the shortest version of cricket, the affable Suresh bhai would have said, "they have played shamelessly and fearlessly."
RR skipper Shane Watson leaves the ball outside off-stump during the tie against Mumbai Indians at Wankhede on Sunday. Pic/Suresh KK
Mumbai Indians were fearless and shameless with no table manners… just famished enough to grab everything on the table that came their way. On the other hand, Rajasthan Royals seemed very hesitant and shy to grab what was offered.
I can't see the RR owners, their team or the management sleep too well for the next few weeks, months or even till the next Indian Premier League. They played this one as if they were guilty of the experiments gone wrong and were still recovering from 'what should have been' rather than what 'is' in the crucial game against the Mumbai Indians.
When a team descends from a comfort zone to a do-or-die situation, the pressure seemingly tells on the team mood and performance. Conversely, from a hopeless situation to a window of opportunity opening from nowhere like it did for the Mumbai Indians.
The body language in the maiden over bowled by young Jaspreet Bumrah to the seasoned Shane Watson had a story to tell — the pacer bowling as though he had nothing to lose; the batsman shouldering arms as if he had everything to play for.
There were only two scripts that could be written here — a one-sided win for RR or a close win for MI. The latter emerged the winner.
Panic can often make the best do silly things as RR did. Contrarily, desperation can help you forget strategy, planning and all those time-consuming team meeting gigs. Clear, uncomplicated minds help you do simple things well. The Mumbai Indians did just that and did it well for once.
Rebuilding and pressure doesn't matter if one has a simple objective. By hook or by crook, the target is the most important goal. While Watson panicked, Mumbai Indians had forgotten to panic. They knew they got here by default and now they had no option.
No one can take as much credit for the win as much as RR can take blame for the loss. The desperate situation has fine-tuned the much discussed batting order for the Mumbai Indians, more by default I suspect than design.
Belief in destiny especially in sport, many a time spreads positivity. Mumbai Indians may just believe that some things are just meant to be. Unless of course they are too drained by the burst of emotion that we saw break out at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday.
The writer is a former Mumbai Ranji Trophy captain