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Only finishing touches left

On the face of it, the Mohali-Jaipur encounter appears quite an inconsequential affair, for both the teams are already assured of a semi final berth.

cricket Updated: May 27, 2008 23:24 IST
Subhash Rajta

On the face of it, the Mohali-Jaipur encounter appears quite an inconsequential affair, for both the teams are already assured of a semi final berth. But it’s quite unlikely that they would take it lightly because it's the last league match for both the teams and neither of them would like to head into the semis on a losing note. Besides, the contest also presents them with the final opportunity to address the grey areas they might have identified just before hitting the home run in what has been a 44-day cricket marathon of sorts.

Coming to think of it, Mohali would need to do more thinking than the rampaging Jaipur. Mohali has already lost the last match to Kolkata, and the very idea of heading into the semis with two consecutive defeats under their belt would certainly send shudder down their spines. Moreover, Tom Moody has always sounded a firm believer in the momentum theory and he would definitely want the momentum on his side ahead of the knockout contest.

But it's just not something as abstract as momentum that would be troubling Mohali; they have quite a few concrete problems to deal with. To start with, batting has undoubtedly been the cornerstone of Mohali's successful run in the tournament, and it has put on more strength with the stupendous comeback of Kumar Sangakkara.

Yet, Mohali would be slightly concerned over the form of their skipper Yuvraj Singh. The lefthander has though looked good as long as he lasts, but has failed to get any big innings against his name, except for a couple of scores in the initial part of the tournament. He has steadfastly maintained that he isn't bothered much with his own scores as long as the team is winning, but he would agree that his team stands a better chance to win if he too could turn in the performance expected of him. And there can't be a better time than now for him to join the party.

But more than this minor glitch in the otherwise power-packed batting line-up, it's bowling that should be giving Tom Moody some headache off late. The bowlers almost threw away the game against Mumbai, and then allowed Kolkata to come back and win the last game. The bowling hinges too heavily on Irfan and Sreesanth; and if any of these two have a bad day in office, the other bowlers would struggle to make up for that. And last but not the least, fielding — which has generally been good — has also shown the propensity to drop by quite a few notches all of a sudden on quite a few occasions.

Jaipur, is certainly the team to beat and with little worries whatsoever. The victory against Mumbai in the last game would have soared their confidence even higher, for the improbable win wasn’t accomplished by their regular match winners, but by Niraj Patel and Ravinder Jadeja, providing more cushion to Jaipur’s chances.

All they have to worry about is perhaps the law of averages catching up with them. It would be interesting to see for how long they could defy it.