Momentum is a cruel mistress. A sports goods company explained the meaning of the phrase through a video, portraying how momentum could lead to the achievement of goals.
But in the end, as a disclaimer, it said the mistress is always on the lookout for a chink. And once it succeeds to find one, it is very difficult to get momentum back on one’s side.
While the case in point is not to develop a discussion on momentum, but to analyse Delhi Daredevils’s graph in the IPL this season which reveals how they lost steam in final stages.
Delhi’s quest ended after 14 games, failing to qualify for the play-offs after getting beaten by Virat Kohli led RCB in a do-or-die situation.
Here was a team, which sat high on the points table after the first seven games with five wins and just two losses. The two losses came against KKR, against whom Delhi started shakily and never recovered and against Gujarat Lions, where Chris Morris valiant 82* went in vain in the one-run loss.
Then came the inexplicable changes to their set line-up. Delhi rested their senior players, leading run scorer and opener Quinton de Kock and captain Zaheer Khan in the eighth match against Rising Pune Supergiants.
All of a sudden, Rishabh Pant was asked to open and his partner that day was Sanju Samson, who until then had been walking in at No.3. Delhi was humbled at home by seven wickets. The reshuffled batting order failed.
In the next game against Kings XI Punjab, the seniors were back, the momentum had begun to slide. Delhi lost by nine runs. Suddenly, few young faces, including Samson and Karun Nair were under scrutiny. And guys who were coming behind them had failed to keep runs flowing.
Strangely the penchant for changes kept on going with the losses. It sort of became a mantra to get back to winnings ways. Not just the batting lineup, the bowlers too were chopped and changed regularly.
“We spoke about this at the beginning of the tournament as a team; a collective thought that when it comes to it, we’re going to look at every game and play the XI that we thought that can take up an opposing team with regards to their bowlers, to spinners because we had a lot of variety. We tried and mixed and matched to complement who we were playing against. I think it’s good that we mixed up. We’ve also learnt now combinations and stuff for the next season,” de Kock explained the phenomenon.
To add to their woes, their bowling mainstay, who was to push Delhi’s surge failed miserably. Mohammad Shami, who was coming into this tournament on the back of a knee injury, failed to light up the tournament. In eight matches, the India international snared only five wickets and his economy of more than nine runs in an over hurt Delhi’s chances.
Youngsters too lost steam in the latter stages. Samson began strongly but aggregated 291 runs in 14 games, Pant played 10 games for his 198 runs but Nair impressed with his batting and scored 357 runs.
If not for all of these reasons, Delhi would have been planning how to tackle their opponents in the play-off and perhaps a shot at the elusive title, which they have never come close to lifting.