Our match on Tuesday night was a big game and losing to the Mumbai Indians is a huge setback in our quest for a semifinal berth. However, we are far from finished: if we can win two out of our three remaining games, we’ll have a good chance of qualifying.
We’ll not win, however, if we bat like we did against the Mumbai Indians. Yes, the pitch was taking spin and ‘stopping’ a little bit, but the fact is there were too many soft dismissals, including a couple of wasteful run-outs. We should have scored at least 140 to 150 runs.
For us, the tournament has effectively become a knockout competition now. We might just be able to slip up one more time, but to be sure of qualifying, we need to win all three matches and that too against the top three teams on the table — Delhi, Deccan and Chennai.
It’s a tough challenge, no doubt, but not mission impossible. We have to take it one step at a time and the first step is Delhi on Friday night in Bloemfontein. We have an extra day of rest and we need to make sure we are all totally focussed and ready for the contest.
Naturally, we missed Mahela Jayawardene badly on Tuesday. He had been getting better and better in this tournament and growing in confidence with each game, giving us some stability in the middle order. He is vastly experienced and is able to guide us through difficult periods.
However, we have to get over his loss. He has a grade one hamstring tear and it looks like the best-case scenario is that he’ll be available for the final. He is obviously frustrated and the team is disappointed, but we still have match-winners in the side and we have to back ourselves.
The big positive with our batting was Sunny Sohal. He has loads of natural ability, a great eye and can hit the ball a long way. He was going brilliantly and to lose him to a freak run-out was a real blow.
Hopefully, he’ll continue to grow in confidence and keep working on his shot selection.
Brett Lee is also finding his rhythm and working up a fair pace. With Irfan Pathan swinging the ball, we have a nicely balanced new-ball pairing capable of making early inroads. Piyush Chalwa is also bowling well — in fact, he deserved a couple of wickets against the Mumbai Indians.
But if the bowlers are to be given a chance, the batters need to deliver some competitive totals. With Mahela out, the responsibility falls on the senior guys, like Yuvi, Simon Katich and I, to really raise our games and deliver.