The second qualifier at the Wankhede was a cracker, a veritable run fest where batsmen from both sides enjoyed themselves at the expense of the hapless bowlers.
There was no element of luck involved in Kings XI’s victory over the Super Kings. Once they had posted the volume of runs on the board, you expected the bowlers to defend that total.
Virender Sehwag’s blitzkrieg was overdue. Throughout the tournament, Viru has made runs and promised a lot, but the big innings remained elusive. An innings of this quality will instill the desire to make an international comeback because he still has the quality and hunger in him.
What was on offer was the strokeplay that only Viru can produce. His six over long-off off Ishwar Pandey was an extraordinary shot, vintage Sehwag.
That shot, as much as the innings, showed how much Sehwag wanted to win the match for his team. Having warmed himself up, Viru will fancy another crack in the final.
I am happy for Sanjay Bangar, the Kings XI coach. Sanjay is a thorough gentleman and has done a wonderful job behind the scenes, quietly going about his business. He isn’t a chest-thumping, self-promoting individual but a calm, composed, clear-thinking person. His calmness and demeanour has done wonders.
His success is highlighted by the fact that he is the only Indian coach in the IPL. He knows more than a bit of everything. He has opened the batting, batted in the middle order, has bowled with the new ball and has come on and bowled when the ball is older and softer. He has been hands-on as a cricketer and is also a hands-on coach.
Apart from Viru, the other standout performance of the day was Suresh Raina’s 87. Had it not been for the run out, he was well on course to finishing the match within the 20 overs. We have seen some explosive innings in the last few days, including from Yusuf Pathan and Corey Anderson, but Raina’s innings was something else. His slap-pull over square-leg off Mitchell Johnson, at over 145 kmph, was one of the strokes of the night.
Once again, it showed the kind of work Raina has put in in tackling the short ball – not just in leaving it, but also playing positively and looking to play the pull and hook in the interest of the team.
I have to say this. As match referee of the game, I almost had a nervous breakdown looking at what the bowlers have been reduced to. My heart goes out to them.
The writer is a former India pacer