Kolkata Knight Riders' Balaji celebrates wicket of Mayank Agarwal of Royal Challengers Bangalore during the IPL match in Bangalore. (PTI Photo)
Call it coincidence, the Kolkata Knight Riders' fortunes took a dip the minute Shah Rukh Khan's smiling face was flashed on the big screen in the stadium. Until then, the KKR batsmen were playing with total abandon, smashing boundaries and sixes at will, and racing towards a massive total.
But after watching the "Don" on the big screen, the batsmen seemed to develop cold feet and they sort of started to compete with each other to get to the safety of the dug-out.
"They just succumb to pressure whenever they are required to stand up and seize the big moment," lamented a KKR fan. Well, pressure has always been the feared word for this team.
Win or lose, KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir stays angry. Hitting fluently, he was furious with his batting partner Manoj Tiwary over a run, giving him a piece of his mind from the non-striker's end. It was a perfect way to lose concentration as Gambhir fell to a cheeky reverse hit off Zaheer Khan and Tiwary holed out.
Against this backdrop, someone in the KKR camp showed foresight in hiring the world renowned sports psychologist, Rudi Webster. The old shrink, says coach Trevor Bayliss, has started working on the team.
"He speaks with the individuals and meets them over coffee or breakfast without my knowledge. He doesn't like to be called sports psychologist as he talks common sense with players."
Well, irrespective of what he does and how, he seems to have started to make some effect on the team, at least that's what one could imply from their huge win over the Gayle-powered Royal Challengers Bangalore.
By the end of their innings, though, it appeared they had blown away a fine opportunity to put it across the hosts, what with their great start petering to a limp finish. From a daunting 123 for 3 with seven overs to spare, thanks to a sizzling half-century from Gautam Gambhir and brisk contributions from Jacques Kallis and Manvinder Bisla, the visitors could manage just 42 runs in the last seven overs.
The total looked inadequate for the power-packed Royal Challengers, with danger man Chris Gayle back in the team. But the big man, for once, failed to click, and the rest of the batsmen just couldn't recover from the shock, handing the game to the visitors without a semblance of fight.