Tuesday’s game showed us one thing: It doesn’t matter where you’re from, or what form of the game it is, when good players are challenged, or criticised by people who don’t have anything else to say, they tend to show the world why they’re considered good, or great.
That’s what Jacques Kallis did on Tuesday and that’s what Rahul Dravid has done for us more than a few times. Players like Kallis and Dravid are pure quality.
They look to take control of the situation and generally thrive in pressure-cooker situations.
Even in T20 cricket, their strike rates are comparable to those of many big-hitters, and their innings are perhaps more valuable because you know these are the men you can depend on. They’ll invariably bail you out when the more flamboyant men fail.
The thing is, because of the way they bat, with calm authority, and because we’re not used to seeing them bat like this, we’re conditioned to think this format isn’t their cup of tea. What we tend to overlook is that they adapt, and adapt beautifully. Experience is a priceless asset and we’re fortunate to have people like them.
But things got a bit hairy for a bit on Tuesday. On such a wicket, where the runs keep coming, it’s very difficult. As a captain and a bowler, you start chasing the ball; as in, you start putting a fielder wherever the ball goes. We bowled well during the restrictions, but we gave away too many later and missed a couple of chances. The wicket was a batter’s feast and they took whatever was on offer.
We thought we gave away 25-30 too many, but told ourselves to stick to our goal, which is
to chase down totals in 19 overs.
That 19-over mark is important, because it keeps us wired. Otherwise, a couple of good overs often get batters complacent and we can’t afford that in this format.
Which is why it was fantastic, the way Jacques controlled the game, how Manish Pandey helped give us that all-important start and then, how Robin Uthappa played — he was exceptional. I remember telling Mark Boucher and someone else that we needed one game-changing innings, someone to get a fifty in 20 balls. Robin gave us that.
We’ll be looking forward to doing it again against Rajasthan. They’re hit by injuries but we’ll be looking to keep our momentum going, play to our strengths.
On a personal note, my injury seems okay. I’m all set to play. And have my team win.