An unfortunate encore; but RCB gear up for IPL-5
Perceptions can be deceiving. So can the visible elements of pitch, weather etc. RCB deserve more credit than they will garner.
While some people assessed the CLT20 2011 final, unsuccessful for RCB, as mediocre cricket overall from both sides, one wonders if the nature of the pitch has not been sufficiently assessed? It was reportedly a slightly ‘improved’ one from the IPL but one wonders if the preparation was truly different. After all, it would be made to suit Chennai Super Kings and their key bowler R Ashwin and therefore retained as a spinner’s pitch, but unfortunately a ‘crumbling’ one.
When Royal Challengers Bangalore batted, shot making looked extremely difficult because the pitch would simply not allow the ball to come onto the bat. One had hoped that reports of the improved pitch would be proven true but that was not the case. As much as fans cried out in anguish when seeing the aggressive Mayank Agarawal hit out to long off, they should realize that the youngster needed to make use of whatever ‘juice’ was in the wicket to ensure the run-rate was at least near par. Later on, scoring runs at the same pace would be very difficult.
It’s a chance one needs to take, but the pitch simply didn’t respond to the batsman’s shots. While this may sound like an excuse to defend RCB batsmen, aficionados will realize that even Virat Kohli’s and Arun Karthik’s shots were necessary. Well, one thing is for sure that those batsmen out there wouldn’t play those shots unless they had thought them through. It just was again, just one of those days.
RCB fans would also remember that the Mumbai Indians managed more sixes, even though intermittent, during various stages of their innings. Well, Malinga joined in the six hitting too. Definitely there was more in the pitch to aid the batters when Mumbai batted. It would be quite wrong to say that RCB crumbled while for all visible purposes it appeared they did. In actual fact the pitch did. Our batsmen out there looked quite sensible. There were distinct periods of playing out dangerous phases and then there were necessary bit-shot attempts. Somewhere, we have to cut our players some slack.
Tiwary’s handsome hard-hit for a six barely evaded the fielder overhead, meaning the same man who effortlessly launched into the 10th tier of the Chinnaswamy Stadium on its rather different pitch could hardly get his pile driver anywhere near that number of tier in the Chidambaram Stadium.
The discussion then shifts to whether some healthy changes are necessary for preparing T20 pitches all over the world? If a wicket ‘shifts gear’ so rapidly from the 21st over of the match to the 40th, can it be considered conducive to fair cricket? An honest look at the world of T20 would reveal that the format has been about event organizing and TV broadcasts whereas intellectuals in the game now need to put under the scanner pitches like the Chennai one? Is it possible to play on two different surfaces side-by-side on the pitch, by switching pitches after half time? Both teams may play on slightly different pitches but at least get life out of them? It’s an oxymoron to say that a batsman should extract ‘juice’ from the pitch but doesn’t the evidence show for itself?
If such a change-idea is good (nothing can be called revolutionary today), it would be a challenge to protect the non playing pitch during either halves of play from the fielders’ spikes. With today’s facilities and technology, there might just be a way. Again, captains can toss to decide who wants to bat on which surface.
Of course, the more conventional approach would be to take the ‘juice’ out of the toss on such surfaces. Perhaps abolish the toss and give the batting or bowling option to the team that has done better on performances in the league or Net Run Rate. Sure, the disadvantages to the side batting second at Chepauk-like pitches will be the same but at least their opponents will have ‘earned’ the right to choose what to do first.
Well, it’s been an entertaining tournament. RCB fans must take heart that their team fought back from a near exit situation to become hot favourites but just about missed the crown. Next time.