This game is going to be a cracker
- St Shri Shri Ravi Shastri
India were playing the SAffers, termed as chokers, no matter how they lose, or even if the don't. India, the host, was playing its 5th game after 3 unconvincing victories and a superb tie that even made the camel in the driest lands of Thar desert go in the search of a rest-room.
SA came into the match after they had trouble playing at near-sea level. They played well at Mohali and Delhi, which are at higher altitude, where you are actually likely to choke. But, lost at Chennai... So, it's anti-choking. Just to clarify.
So, some possible reasons for the loss would be :-
1. MSD won the toss. You see, as good a cool captain he is on the field, MSD expects to take decisions only after the play starts. To be faced with the decision to bat or bowl struck him as a surprise. He did take the right decision, but was in deep thinking as to how he could win the toss.
2. Sachin Tendulkar got out earlier than expected. We all love Sachin. He scores centuries just like I make toasts in my kitchen when I'm home alone with a loaf of bread. I'm an expert at it. So, is Sachin in scoring centuries. But just like when I throw the polyethene cover of the bread loaf away it pollutes the earth, the dismissal of Sachin causes a big havoc in the team. India reeled under that indigestible pressure, and all players wanted to return back to the dressing room to pay homage to His Highness.
3. Larger problem than that was Sachin scoring the century itself. It's been quite an unlucky charm when he scores a century. In 2003, he scored 97s, 98s etc... And India won with ease. Look at the 2 centuries - vs England (last over tie) and vs SA (last over loss).
4. MSD. If you extended the lines of everyone in the world as to who is responsible for the loss, half of those would centre at MSD. Like I said, he was still puzzled by the toss, so, don't blame him. If you were told that your bike has been stolen, you will obviously be stuttering when your girlfriend calls and says "pick me up in 10 minutes". But unfortunately, one can't put that as an excuse. If he couldn't face the reality of toss in 3 hours, he can't do that in 5 days. He must practice "Call it right (or wrong) at the toss" to get his mindset right.
5. Earth's gravity. 5 years ago, on the same date, SA chased down Aus' mammoth score. So, Smith was not afraid of India's scoring rate at all. But Steyn was not happy with the beating he got up front, and so, like an angry bull terrier, he went and chased and bit the Indians hard towards to end. That helped SA's cause. But, surely, it all made it easy for SA to chase on a 12th March. They perfectly know how the gravity acts on this day, where the moon is, and where the sun is. They are experts, and Esyabhatta has clearly written in the ancient books about where the ball would be at what instance. Peterson is a good scholar from SA'n school of Ball_Locationomy, and he showed us how he topped those classes.
6. Tournament schedule. Having known about this great information, the same tournament organizers who said "we don't want bigger teams (indirectly mentioning India, hidden in an artificial cough) to exit in the first round", the organizers specifically chose 12th of march for the occasion. And things fell in place for SA and blah blah blah...
7. Ashish Nehra. Clearly, Ashish was at fault. Not because of what Peterson did to him, but because Nehra's over-confident about time sense. He misread the time. He asked MSD what the time was before the last over. MSD said "tooo late now" (since it was already half an hour behind on over-rate). Nehra heard it as "twelve eight now". Nehra suddenly felt like superman. He too is a scholar of Esyabhatta's subject of Ball_Locationology, (not from Peterson's class though) And, Ashish Nehra knew all about March 13th. So, he demanded the ball after saying "this is MY day". He was bowling with the tactics he employed on March 13th, 2004, against Pakistan at Karachi. Alas... If only someone had reminded him about the misconception...
8. Wrong people at the wrong place. You see, 9 years ago, when India defeated South Africa in the semi-final of the Champions Trophy, Sehwag had taken India to a good score over 6 an over after 15 overs, India had then fumbled and posted a less than acceptable total. In the chase on that day, SA had lost Smith early, and their in-form player had got injured... So, as you see, SA did their part of the game well today with that script. India didn't. Yuvraj should've been at short fine leg to catch one of those many aerial sweep shots (remember how he caught Rhodes then?). Gauti should've caught du Plessis in the deep fine leg fence. In 2002, Bhajji had caught Dippenaar on the fine leg fence. Gauti's miss was very costly indeed, as du Plessis was as hot as his French name is. And the biggest mistake - Sehwag wasn't bowling. He had taken 3 wickets that night to peg SA on their back.
If you are wondering what match I'm talking about here, it is This One :-
If India take care of such "small small" things, India will surely win. Don't worry, all you fellow India fans, India is still going smooth in this tournament. Just one loss doesn't mean we are out (though SA lost just one game to India in T20WC 2007 and were out of the tournament :-P ).
De Ghuma Ke!
(photo courtesy The Hindu e-newspaper)