So near and yet so far, that was the case with us in the IPL final on Sunday at the Bull Ring in Johannesburg.
To say that I am disappointed would be an understatement. Even at the halfway mark of our chase, we were in control and cruising to victory.
To go on to lose from there was, naturally, heartbreaking. We had done all the hard work leading to this game, put in the miles and played exceptionally well to qualify for the knockout phase.
Two weeks ago, no one gave us a chance and that wasn’t unjustified at that time. After the loss to Mumbai on May 10, we had put ourselves in a position from where we had to win all our remaining matches in order to qualify. The team rallied around wonderfully and, the fact that with the exception of Kolkata all the teams we beat were ranked above us, tells a story.
After all that, to falter in the last half-an-hour or so and lose the plot certainly hurts. Without a single decent partnership, we reached within one hit of victory thanks to the bowlers who did extremely well to restrict the strong Hyderabad batting.
I must single out Vinay Kumar here. What a fighter he is, a tremendous team man, and a fine bowler who deserves more. Anyway, that’s how cricket goes. What I cannot fault is the effort the boys put in. It simply didn’t work out for us in this game and, though it was a day we should have won, I am sure people will understand that these things happen.
After things had settled down a bit, I thanked each one of my players for their efforts. I also made it a point to have a word with those bound for the T20 World Cup and wished them all the best. After all, you have to move on. And it was not as if we hadn’t done well. After last year’s disappointing showing, this time we certainly showed what we are capable of, both in terms of results and in the manner in which we played our cricket.
Ultimately, what stood out was the even contest between bat and ball. It brought skills into play and whoever was skilful enough, with either bat or ball, stood out. The arrangements right through were also top class, with the South Africans too taking liking to the IPL and thus lending a unique flavour.
I got a lot of best wishes from back home and would like to thank all of them for their wishes and for praying for us. It is always good to be supported. By the time you read this, I will be back home. I will take it easy for a while but soon we will have to regroup and look to plan for the Champions League scheduled for October. And since we will be playing at home, I cannot but look forward to it. Perhaps, we will get to play some matches in Bangalore and that would be great.