The two teams that had to win on Super Saturday had contrasting fortunes. Defending champions Deccan Chargers played the form team, Mumbai Indians, and lost and now have a mountain to climb to qualify for the semis. Of course, it can still be done but when a team faces the prospect of having to win four out of five games, they know they have no room for error and that’s the position the Chargers find themselves in.
They have been let down by their batting for while it is easy to point a finger at the bowlers in this format, they are invariably on a hiding to nothing. That’s why Chennai’s Doug Bollinger’s figures of two for 15 in his four overs, and that too when the batsmen were hammering everything in sight, is an outstanding effort. The effort came on a day when almost 500 runs were scored, so full credit to him for bowling the way he did and helping his team. Remember, he had just arrived from New Zealand where the weather was a lot cooler than in Chennai and to bowl in the manner that he did was top class.
The quicker bowlers of most teams have got a pasting on Indian pitches as their extra pace has helped the ball to come on to the bat and their habit of bowling a short length has been used by the big hitters to get under the ball and hit over the top.
Bollinger brought a different angle with his over-the-wicket stuff, not so much trying to swing the ball away as he would do in Tests but getting the ball to move into the chest of the batsman and thus restricting a smooth swing of his bat.
He had to be accurate too as these balls going slightly down leg can be hooked away for runs and if the batsman misses it would be called a wide. He came onto the bat quickly too and that meant he was often hitting the splice than the middle of the bat. Naman Ojha, who batted throughout the innings, was kept quiet early on by Bollinger and that made the difference in the end.
It was a spirited chase but the Royals had given too many runs and fell short. They have the advantage of having two more points than the Chargers and can still make up lost ground.
That luxury wasn’t there for the Chennai Super Kings, who had they had lost, would have also been in the same situation as the Chargers and would have had to win virtually all their remaining games to get into the semis.
The race for the third and fourth spots has become interesting and there will be enormous pressure on the players to deliver. With the summer in full flow, there will be little relief and they will be sweating on and off the field.