Watching the Sunrisers begin their innings against the Royals, I got the impression that they were a little overawed by the occasion. For a lot of their young players, it was the first time in a match as important as the Eliminator, and you could see that they were feeling the
The intensity was different compared to the previous night's match between the Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians. There, both teams knew they had a second chance, that even if you lost, you still had another shot at going through to the final. This was a do-or-die encounter; and the pressures of a must-win knockout game can be overwhelming.
In matches such as these, it is experience and a cool head that matter most.
Games such as these separate the men from the boys, and that's where Rajasthan were fortunate to have the likes of Shane Watson and Brad Hodge. The experience of these two men, as well as the calm head in the dugout of Rahul Dravid, pulled the team through. The Rajasthan bowling was spot on, on a Kotla pitch, which wasn't conducive to stroke-making, but to me, the moment of the match came not with bat or ball, but on the field.
Rahul Shukla had come on as a substitute, and he produced a terrific piece of cricket to run Darren Sammy out just when the West Indian was threatening to cut loose. Not only did Shukla reach the ball quickly, he also had the presence of mind to recognise that the chances of running Sammy out were greater than getting Thisara Perera, who was running to the supposed danger end.
The writer is a former India pacer