Dejected looking Kolkata Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir after loosing IPL-5 match against Chennai Super Kings in Kolkata. PTI Photo/Swapan Mahapatra
Some defeats hurt more and Monday’s loss to the Super Kings was disappointing for two reasons. It removed us from the top two places and it came off the last ball of the match. That’s never a good feeling!
However, we can still shape our destiny, and if we can beat the Mumbai Indians on their home turf today, we should be back in the top two.
There is a significant advantage of finishing in the top two because you get have two chances of reaching the final rather than just a straight semifinal knockout.
All we can do is get back to winning ways and hope that’s enough to move up a place. But if we finish third or fourth and have to win two games to get to the final, I still back us to do exactly that.
It is crazy for a team to expect an easy ride to the final, the spread of talent amongst the franchises is too even for any team to establish dominance over 16 matches. The Delhi Daredevils have had a great campaign up to this point, and have been the team of the season, but even they could lose two games in the playoffs and fail to reach the final.
There is clear understanding in the KKR squad that any player can have a bad day. Sometimes, a bad day can mean just one bad over, or even a couple of expensive deliveries! Sometimes, a bad day can mean the failure to hit a single ball to the boundary. That’s the nature of the game. It’s unforgiving and ruthless.
Mumbai have a strong South African flavour with Herschelle Gibbs and Shaun Pollock. I can’t believe Polly and I started our international careers together, and now he’s an old-man coach! It’s taken a while for Hersch to regain fitness but, by all accounts, he’s looking as sharp as ever.
Benefits of T20
And then there’s Sachin, older than all of us and still going strong. Although the intensity of T20 exceeds all other formats, the length of the game allows us ‘mature’ cricketers to recover more quickly from aches and pains that everyone experiences.
It was two years ago that I said in this column that T20 would extend players’ careers rather than shorten them.
Every IPL season has been long but this one has been the most enjoyable. Like all in the KKR squad, I’m excited about our chances now that we have reached the business end of the tournament. Anybody who has read my columns would know how much I want an IPL winners’ medal on my bar at home. It would take pride of place.
The writer plays for KKR