Coronavirus Is Infecting Sport Massively!

On the 17th of November, a group of Chinese doctors in Wuhan were approached by a patient. Upon examining him properly, the doctors found some groundbreaking results. They concluded that the patient had been infected by a virus which was quite similar to the SARS virus of 2002, but not quite the same. Whatever it was, the doctors had deciphered that it was deadly. When they tried to announce these discoveries of theirs, the world was not ready to pay any heed. The Chinese Government itself tried to restrict any news about this discovery and the media were busy with other things . Little did they know that this seemingly unimportant discovery would be the result of almost 5,000 deaths and would potentially cause the greatest economic downfall since the 2007-08 global financial crisis.

 

The Busy Media Hard At Work

 

The Coronavirus,or COVID-19 has spread quicker than wildfires in Australia (too early for jokes right now?). And it hasn’t just spread, it has caused mass destruction. Not in an obvious way, but in a slow but sure way. There are always three unofficial stages of an epidemic or a pandemic, as COVID-19 has been categorized. The first is denial. This is where people really don’t take the disease seriously, and just let it be. If steps are taken during this stage itself, then the disease can very easily be contained, but of course our human nature does not allow us to do things until it becomes an absolute necessity to do them. For the COVID-19, this stage was every single day between 17th November and mid-February.

 

The second stage is the waking up of the world. A sudden burst of cases usually does the trick here. In the case of COVID-19, there were 19,572 reported cases worldwide on February 17th. Sure enough this got ‘#cornoravirus’ (Yes, they spelt it wrong, not a typo) trending on twitter and from then on, most of you must be aware of because let’s be honest, you also started getting to know about the virus after this sudden outbreak. The third and the stage that we are currently on is huge measures being taken and widespread panic. It is a little ironic that we would never have had to take even half the measures that we currently are, if the authorities had just acted a little responsive when the virus was first discovered.

 

The graph which shows the sudden increase in the no. of cases on 17th February

 

Yes, I am deeply saddened to see the deaths, the threat to students’ education, the cancelling of all-important business trips and meetings, and countless other inconveniences that have been caused by this outbreak, to say the least. But there was nothing that upset me more than the effect it had on the world of sport! After all, my whole life does revolve around what game I will watch at this time, and which one at that time. I plan my study, sleep and basically my whole schedule around that. And now, I have suddenly been hit with ‘All matches have been postponed till at least Mid-April’, by all the sports leagues an teams that I watch. The Bundesliga, the UEFA Champions League, the Premier League, the MLB and of course, the IPL,all of them have suspended all their games happening anytime soon until further notice. In fact, there is literally no high-tier sports being played anywhere! Now what am I supposed to do with my life?

 

The PSG-Dortmund Champions League Game Being Played Without Spectators Due To Coronavirus Scares

 

Yes, the teams and the leagues have to follow instructions from the government and the authorities up top, but there could definitely have been other approaches. The most logical and the most popular one seems to be to play the games behind closed doors in empty stadiums. This does seem like the best strategy and we have seen most of the sporting world use this strategy but there are loopholes in this too. The teams will lose out on all their ticketing revenue which means that everyone will earn less, the players, the officials, the authorities, everyone. Secondly, this method doesn’t completely finish the risk of being infected by the virus either. If a player or someone on the pitch has the disease, then everyone on the pitch is in danger. We have seen big names like Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, Chelsea winger prodigy, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Olympiakos FC’s chairman and Australia’s pace sensation Kane Richardson, all testing positive for the virus. These are all people that the players regularly come into contact with. So in such a scenario, cancelling matches and sending players into self quarantine seems to be the only completely safe option left.

 

Callum Hudson Odoi (left) and Mikel Arteta (right) have both tested positive for the COVID-19

 

For my opinion on the leagues being scrapped and games being cancelled, all I can say that with a heavy heart, I stand by it. Safety comes first. Yes, the way the Bundesliga are planning to go about it (ending the season without giving any team the title of champions) would definitely be unfair to the top-spot team (currently Bayern), but I can’t say that I am willing to put the risk of thousands of spectators just to see my team win, especially when they are sports fans just like me who simply came to watch and enjoy a match.

 

The events that I talked about till now are all yearly events, they happen every year. If they scrap a season, it will be sad for sure but not unimaginable. We might just see THE OLYMPICS being scrapped this year. Yes guys, the olympics. As Trevor Noah had explained, the only other thing that has ever got an Olympics to be cancelled was the World War. So, COVID-19 is potentially a WORLD WAR LEVEL THREAT. Soak it in. And remember, it is not overrated, this virus has to be taken seriously. The ebola and polio viruses became as widespread as they did because of the ignorance that some people are now showing for the COVID-19. Stay alert and mindful for sure, and do not take the virus too lightly ( or too seriously 🙂 ).

History.

Hello everyone! I haven’t been writing on my WordPress site for a while now, because I have been writing (quite unconsistently, I must say) on my own website. But such were the events of Bayern Munich’s weekend clash with Hoffenheim that I found them important to share with every one with whom I possibly could.

First of all, let’s start with how I actually sat down to watch this match. I wasn’t going to watch it initially, because I’m a student and I am appearing for my final exams right now. So I was taking a break from studies and scrolling through twitter when I saw that Bayern’s official twiter handle had retweeted someone’s tweet who was from India. Being an Indian Bayern fan myself, I was ecstatic seeing this and tweeted my happiness at Bayern’s acknowledgement of their Indian fan. They liked my tweet! This got the Bayern blood in my veins to start pumping and I finally decided that I was going to act irresponsible and watch the match, and oh, what a decision that was!

Yes, that game will go down in history as one of the darkest games in Bayern and Bundesliga for all its off-field drama. I will talk about that too, but I would much prefer to first talk about the actual footballing aspect of the game.

Bayern Munich have made it very clear that they want it all this season, and game after game, they have proved that they can walk their talk. The Champions League could very well be going to Bavaria this season. This game was just another indication of their true class. Bayern were without their heartthrob Robert Lewandowski in this game owing to an unfortunate injury to the Pole against Chelsea’s UCL tie which will keep him out for around a month. People say that Bayern are overdependent on Lewandowski, that they can’t score without him. I’d say that the people who say that will keep their mouths sealed for at least a week or so now.

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Robert Lewandowski

They won 6-0! And that’s only in 77 minutes (I’ll explain how)! It felt like a world champion in FIFA 20 had set the difficulty to ‘beginner’ and was playing just to see the margin with which he could win. Every single footballer with red on his jersey was absolutely phenomenal. Bayern were particularly very impressive on the wings. Serge Gnabry was just Serge Gnabry. I am seriously at a loss of words to describe how well he plays. He kept creating chance after chance after chance, and he also took his volley goal brilliantly, making the goalkeeper look awkward and funny.

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Serge Gnabry

Phil Coutinho was someone who had a lot of pressure on him in this match. People were calling it his ‘last chance’ to play for Bayern Munich. If this really was the game on the basis of which the Bayern ownership are going to make the decision of whether to keep him or not, they are definitely going to keep him! Initially, Coutinho struggled a bit, but after the first third got over, it was all about Coutinho. 2 goals, 1 assist and a heck of a performance from the little magician. The debate of whether to keep Coutinho or not is essentially a debate of Coutinho vs Leroy Sane. Both of them have a similar price tag, and if Bayern acquires one, then they will have to let go of the other. For me personally, I’m on team Sane simply because I think he fits the Bayern style of play better than Coutinho and also because City might be willing to sell him for a  lower price considering his contract length and their UCL ban.

 

Thomas Muller was a powerhouse on the field as always. He has surely aged like a fine wine. Joshua Zirkzee, Bayern’s future striker and Lewandowski’s replacement also took his goal fairly well. Alphonso Davies, who, in my humble opinion, is going to develop to be one of if not the best footballer in the world, also flaunted his pace and smart play. If there is one player in the Hoffenheim lineup who deserves serious props, it is their goalkeeper, Oliver Baumann. I know it seems weird to congratulate someone who conceded 6 goals, but most of them weren’t even his fault! Bayern were just too good! It could very easily have been 10-0 if not for some of his awe-inspiring saves which he made when he shouldn’t have had a prayer.

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Oliver Baumann

Now that we have got the football talk out of the way, let’s come to the mishaps of today’s game. What happened was, a group of Bayern fans unveiled banners calling Hoffenheim’s owner Dietmar Hopp a ‘Hurensohn’. I am learning German and although I haven’t formally been taught the slang yet, I can estimate what that means. I don’t want to write it down here, so if you are interested in knowing that, that’s what google is there for! The reason for this behaviour against Dietmar Hopp was because he has been given an exception to the Bundesliga’s 50+1 rule of ownership. Basically, it has got something to do with money being spent by wrong people in wrong amounts at the wrong places.

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The banner which was raised the 1st time.

After the banner was unveiled for the first time, the game was stopped and Bayern players and the Bayern coach himself, Hansi Flick, ran over to the stand where those fans were seated and tried to persuade them to pull those flags down. They seemed to realise that it was wrong and they shouldn’t do it again, and the game begun again. But right arounf the 77 minute mark, the banner was unveiled again. That was enough for the referee, he stopped the game there and then. Now, Karl Heinz-Rumenigge and Oliver Kahn had also joint the scene and were trying to reason with those fans. For those of you who do not know much about football, these are big names! Kahn is considered by some the greatest goalkeeper ever! Now you have a group of legends and future legends like Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer, Thiago Alacantara and Joshua Kimmich arguing with a bunch of spoilt ‘fans’ who think they are bigger than the game of football. Devastating.

After a good 10 minute gap, the referee started play again with the condition that if the banner was raised again, the match would be terminated and Bayern would have to forfeit their hard-earned points. These so called ‘fans’ were hurting their own teams’ title chances with this stunt. Nonetheless, play started again with 13 minutes of football left and what happened next was probably the greatest act of sportsmanship that the footballing world has seen.

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The players passing the ball to members of both the teams even though the match was officially on.

The players decided to just pass the ball around between them for the remaining time and just run the clock down. Yes, you just had 22 players passing the ball between them, not looking at the jerseys the players they passed to were wearing, and talking about what had just happened. Some players started a Keepy-Uppy challenge. Others chose to do their own exercise drills. Some engaged in serious discussions. But nobody wanted to play seriously after what they had just witnessed. Not that if they had played, it would change the outcome of the match, but Hoffenheim would surely have wanted to at least get a goal to reduce the goal difference with which they lost, but they were willing to sacrifice that for the sake of respecting their owner and the game. Bayern could have also fulfilled some personal achievements very easily, Coutinho’s hat-trick, Zirkzee’s record to be the youngest Bayern brace-scorer and many more which were definitely far from unachievable, but they also sacrificed it to show the world whose side they were on and that they would not tolerate such behaviour no matter who those people supported.

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How the match ended, and should have ended.

It was almost like the players taught those ‘fans’ a lesson. “Oh, you want to stop a football match, do you? Here watch a friendly training now instead!” I think one of the most important things to takeaway from this experience is that a particular group of fans does not represent the whole fanbase of a club. I am sure Bayern Munich fans such as myself will receive a lot of hate after this incident, but I hope people can understand that we also condemn this sort of behavior and will be ready to accept any punishments our team may get for this (even though none of it was their fault). Even though the match was completed, there is no assurance that the points from this win will count to their overall score. The Bundesliga operators may decide to terminate the match after all!

Let’s hope for the best and hope that something like this never happens in the history of Bayern or any other club in any other league ever again.

Mumbai – India’s Kings!

Ughh. Shut up! Stop shouting! Cut it out! These are just some of the things people said to me after I was found shouting in my room while jumping on the bed to continuously bang my head on the roof at 12:00 o’clock in the night. The reason – Mumbai Indians won the IPL!

I don’t mean to sound very know-it-all-y but in my pre-tournament prediction, I had kept Mumbai Indians as Table-toppers and champions. Both came true! I appreciate your offer Cricbuzz, I’ll get back to you on that because I also have an offer from Cricinfo and Sportskeeda. In all seriousness though, this Mumbai Indians side is really invincible. They have the right amount of youngsters and experienced players. They have the right blend of bowlers, with the best pacers in all the teams and two spinners who bowl fearlessly. The batting order is the most flexible and even if the upper order cannot give a good start, someone from the hitters down in the lower order always steps up.

But it’s not like MI won this match effortlessly. There were just 9 runs needed off the final over for CSK with the man on 77 – Shane Watson on strike. And the bowler was Lasith Malinga who had already conceded 49 runs in 3 overs until then. But as they say – you can’t buy experience, but you can buy Malinga. Slinga bowled perfectly, if that’s possible. The first ball was full close into the block hole and all Watto could do was parry it down to long on. Jadeja did well to get a single off the next ball. Watson managed to convert a single to two runs on the next ball. Now 5 were needed off the next 3 balls. It was all just a matter of one boundary. Malinga did his job well with an excellently executed wide yorker but after taking the single, Watson suddenly decides he doesn’t want to take the second run. But under pressure from Jadeja, he half-heartedly runs across only to see De Kock take out his stumps from a Krunal Pandya throw. That might well have been the point where MI won the match. Because had Shane Watson been on strike with 3 runs to win off 2 balls. MI would have been in some serious trouble. Nevertheless, another shocking decision for me was sending Shardul Thakur up the order. I know he can dispatch a few to the boundaries but he is relatively inexperienced. I remember Harbhajan finishing off so many games. Now CSK had the opportunity to use his experience but they went with the relative inexperience of Shardul. Malinga made his first mistake of this over with a full toss on the legs but Shardul couldn’t use it to his advantage managing only two runs. Now the last ball of Vivo IPL 2019 was to be bowled and CSK needed 2 runs to write their name on the trophy for the fourth time. Oh well. Malinga bowled it right on the stumps which was surprising considering that it was a ball which could either be hit for six or it could get a wicket. The latter happened and MI became IPL champions for a record fourth time.

As said by MS Dhoni in the post-match presentation, both teams made lots of mistakes. But the team that made one less mistake won. That is true. CSK dropped one very important catch of Hardik Pandya who then went on to hit a six. MI though were actually the ones who dropped more catches. First up Lasith Malinga dropped a high catch which was the definition of a sitter. Then Rahul Chahar dropped a caught-and-bowled chance. After this Chahar dropped yet another one, which was even easier. But the interesting thing is, all three of them were off Shane Watson’s batting. I am telling you, Shane Watson must have bought a lottery ticket after last night’s match.

The game was pretty much in CSK’s hands after the start that Faf and Watto gave to them. They had to score at a run rate south of 7! But their rookie mistakes took the trophy away from them. Raina, after one successful review, got cocky and took another review in the next over itself and lost CSK’s all important review. Rayudu played an uncomfortable shot to edge it back to the eagerly waiting Quinton De Kock. But the most unprecedented of the rookie mistakes was MS Dhoni’s. Dhoni, unlike his usual self, tried to take a run which was never there. After an overthrow from Malinga (which turned out to be a blessing in disguise), Dhoni tried to sneak in another run. At one point, it actually looked like Dhoni might reach in time, but all credit had to be given to the youngster Ishan Kishan, who seems to be a big fan of Hawkeye. He took perfect aim and his direct hit was the reason for Dhoni’s walk back to the pavilion and maybe the reason for MI’s win, because had Dhoni stuck around, he would have definitely added another trophy to his cabinet.

One pivotal point in the match was the last over of MI’s innings. After Pollard rightly denied a single on the first ball, Dwayne Bravo bowled a clear wide on the second ball. The umpire must have been counting sheep because he gave no response. The next ball was an even bigger wide which Pollard didn’t even try to play, but again the umpire gave him the cold shoulder. I don’t know what the umpire was dreaming about that time, but he was definitely wrong taking that call. The birthday boy Pollard was obviously outraged. Like a small boy throwing a temper tantrum due to the decision made in a gully cricket match, he stood on the wide line, and actually walked out before the ball was even bowled. That resulted in a heated fight between him and the umpires which has now resulted in a fine. But I think that what he did wasn’t wrong because the umpire had turned a blind eye to two clear wides. That was a big blunder. Pollard’s anger showed in the last two balls which he dispatched for 8 runs. It only makes you think, what if he had not hit that ball for four. Or what if the umpire had given that as wide. How close would it have been then?

All in all, this was a great tournament, not to mention very close. The final was won by a one-Run deficit. The team on the last position on the points table would have qualified for the playoffs had they won just one more match. This was the first time that happened. The IPL has ended but the cricket season has just begun. Hello, World Cup!

We Have Our Finalists!

After 59 matches of gruelling action, overwhelming emotion, striking drama, close finishes, big hits, clever moves, excellent performances and most importantly, good cricket, two teams remain. Two teams who have won the trophy the most no. of times. Two teams who have reached the final most no. of times. Two teams who have the most no. of fans, two teams who are the two best teams in the whole of the Indian Premier League.

In a way, it kind of makes sense. Both the 3-time champions battling it out to find out once and for all, who is the better team. Here I would like to look at some patterns. CSK won in 2010, and won in 2011 as well making them the only team to successfully defend an IPL title. They won last year. Can they defend the trophy again? The numbers sure do make a case for them. As for MI, they have an even better argument. 2013 they win. 2015 they win. 2017 they win. 2019 they…… MI have won the IPL every alternate year. This year they have reached the finals. Can they add another trophy to their cabinet? We’ll just have to wait and see.

MI have a lot going for them in this clash. They clearly have the superior team. I think they could even put an international team going to play the World Cup to shame. They literally have all bases covered. Rohit Sharma and Quinton De Kock open for them. While De Kock has been the top run scorer for his side and has had a highly impressive season, Rohit on the other hand, has not lived up to his name. But his recent form has been better than his form right at the start of the season with a fifty to his name in the clash against KKR. So that’s a plus point. The same goes for Suryakumar Yadav. Who had been dissatisfying until his innings against that match against KKR. He did one better in the Qualifier 1 against CSK, where he was the Man Of The Match for his knock of 71. It would be an understatement to say that he is in serious form.

The No.4 position just shows the quality of the MI side further. They have the option to choose other players over the West Indian big hitter who won the West Indies team many-a-matches single-handedly known as ‘Junior Gayle’. They have the option to sit out the Man Of The Series Of the 2011 World Cup, the man who hit six sixes off six balls, Yuvraj Singh. In the last match, they went with the youthful Ishan Kishan. Now in this game, I myself would go with Yuvraj Singh. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m reading Yuvi’s autobiography right now, but I have really started appreciating him as a player. Besides, his experience might come in handy in such an important clash. But maybe MI do not want to make any changes which would also be fine as it would give their players more confidence.

Coming to the lower order, that is just unbelievable. Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya. These three give Mumbai immense flexibility. They never stuck to one batting order. Whatever the situation might be, these 3 can adapt. That is what makes MI the side that finishes the best. Seeing a team with such a great batting lineup, you would not expect their bowling lineup to be as good. And it isn’t as good. It’s better.

The rightful owner of the tag of ‘The World’s Best Bowler’ Jasprit Bumrah is within their ranks. Along with him a revamped Lasith Malinga 2.0 is also supporting him. The ever-improving all-round Hardik Pandya completes their pace trio. The spin trio is not as impressive looking or nearly as star-studded. But if you think that they are less able, think again. Rahul Chahar, Krunal Pandya, and Jayant Yadav can give any international batsman a run for his money. Chahar especially has had a breakthrough season. He has impressed with his abilities to get important wickets.

After looking at that good a side, the CSK side will not be able to match up with it. Faf has been leading the batting attack in the later stages of the tournament while Watto hadn’t fired till the clash against DC yesterday. Raina and Rayudu have both disappointed and are the cause of CSK’s middle order woes. All the disappointment up the order has been covered up because of one man and one man only. Mahendra Singh Dhoni. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. The crew of the movie ‘One Man Army’ should have chosen Dhoni to play the lead. He certainly has played that role for CSK. If the Dhoni Of IPL 2019 can turn up at the World Cup, then India are walking away with the trophy.

The bowling is actually the backbone of the Super Kings. Here too, there are just 2 people who have been handling it all. Deepak Chahar has given a start which can only be dreamt of in every game. He hardly leaks any runs in the powerplay and takes at least a wicket to never let the batsmen get going. But the true recipient of CSK’s reason for reaching here has to be Imran ‘Immy Bhai’ Tahir. He has effected 24 dismissals and if he can get one more against MI on Sunday then he will snatch the purple cap right out from the hands of Kagiso Rabada, and win the prestigious award for the first time.

There is one more thing. Whenever Mumbai Indians have played a final, MS Dhoni has been behind the stumps. In 2017, Dhoni’s Rising Pune Supergiants had lost to the Mumbai Indians by one run. Will the horrors of that defeat come back to haunt him?

Prediction

To win finals you need to hold your nerve. For that you need experience. And experience CSK have in abundance. But MI have the quality on their side. Also they beaten CSK in all the 3 previous clashes between the two this season. So they will definitely be more confident. So I think MI can paint Hyderabad blue this year and carve their name on the trophy for a record fourth time.

Dads’ Army Beat The Kids’ Army!

There you have it. The Delhi Capitals fail to reach the final in spite of a breakthrough. They are still the only team in IPL history to have never played a final. They don’t really deserve to reach the finals though with the way that they played in this game.

At the toss, MSD won and said that he would like to field first. When asked how he felt about batting first, Iyer replied that he wanted to bat first anyway. So both teams got what they wanted. Coming to the game, Delhi Capitals just never got going. That one partnership in every game which completely takes away the game from the opposition was missing here. The Capitals kept losing wickets at regular intervals. It started with Prithvi Shaw, whose ‘not out’ LBW decision was successfully overturned by MS Dhoni. At No.3, Colin Munro was sent in to bat. I think that was a mistake. Munro is a leftie and so is Shikhar Dhawan. And lefties are like evening supper for Harbhajan Singh. Better yet, Kiwi lefties like Munro who struggle against spin. Although Munro did well to see off Harbhajan’s over, his partner Shikhar Dhawan could not do the same. He was caught behind to a flipper which MS Dhoni’s gloves almost refused to stick to. But at the end Shikhar had to walk back. Then out came Iyer.

Maybe the pressure of playing in a knockout match weighed too heavily on such a young captain like Iyer. That could have been what caused him to throw his wicket away after a slow start adding 13 runs to the scoreboard and taking 16 balls to do that. Rishabh Pnt is the most Dhoni-esque person you can find. When he fires – oh boy, he fiiiiires! and he is quite consistent too. But you cannot rely on him to fire in every game. This game too, he played an innings of 38 against the run of play to take his team to a somewhat respectable total. But DC rely on him too much. Next year maybe they will find another finisher to bat below Rishabh and to take the pressure off him.

When the CSK batsmen walked out to bat, the tides were already tilted quite a bit towards their side. Watson had not had a good game until the 96 against SRH. While Faf had played an innings of 96 in the final game of the group stage against KXIP so he was in top form. So he used his form to his advantage and middled the ball right from the start,. While this kept the scoreboad going at a cheetah-like pace, it also gave his partner Shane Watson some time to settle. So when Faf got out to Boult in the 11th over, Watto was ready to take charge. In the very next over, he completely tore Keeemo Paul to shreds. CSK got 25 runs and Shane Watson’s form from that over.

After the cruising start that the openers gave CSK, there was hardly any chance of a collapse. Following the loss of Du Plessis and Watto, all CSK needed to do was play smartly, and Rayudu along with Raina and Dhoni did that. With this complete push aside of the Delhi Capitals, CSK hve managed to set up the 4th MI-CSK final. That is just too much considering CSK didn’t even play for two seasons. I’m not predicting any winner yet, but I definitely want MI to win for the simple reason that no team should ever win the IPL twice in arow. That would make it seem like a Bundesliga or Ligue 1 where one or two teams rule the roost. Anyway, after 59 matches of entertaining cricket, we have our finalists!

 

They Came, They Saw, They Roared

As far as the number of twists in one game go, this game should be on the upper end of the spectrum. Twist after twist after twist. Right when the match started looking one-sided, bam! A player completely turns the game around on its head. That was probably because both teams were packed with match winners. And effective match winners at that.

This was a historic win for the Delhi Capitals. It was the first time that they had won a game in the playoffs. And that’s saying something considering that they have played two semi-finals, a Qualifier 1 and a Qualifier 2. This time, they were highly unlucky becoming the first team to finish outside the top 2 even with 18 points. But they didn’t let that faze them. Even when asked about nervousness and guts among players at the toss, Shreyas Iyer said that they were going to treat it as just another match. At the toss, Iyer had tossed the coin before he was supposed to. He joked about that as well saying that I was so excited to get the game started that I just tossed it before I needed to. That showed that the atmosphere in the Delhi dressing room was not that of self pity but of motivation to go out there and prove that they deserve to be there at Hyderabad on the 12th in the night of the finals.

After DC won a very important toss and elected to field first, the SRH openers Saha and Guptill came out to bat. I think the instructions given to them were that one of you should hit it out and the other one should anchor. Guptill took the responsibility of keeping the strike rate up and he succeeded at that scoring 36 runs off just 19 balls. Saha, though could not do his job, and lost his wicket in the 4th over itself. Manish Pandey, coming into this match with red-hot might have found himself under a lot of pressure to play a long innings. That was what caused him to play an ODI format innings of 30 off 36. The turning point was actually his wicket, after which the SRH batsmen understood that the innings would go nowhere if they were to keep playing as they were. Vijay Shankar took initiative and played a quickfire knock of 25 off 11. That was the gamechanging innings for SRH. The push that Shankar gave them prompted other batsmen to hit too which ultimately led to a competitive total of 162. Rishabh Pant’s excellent wicket keeping in the last over has to be given credit. But what he did with the gloves was nothing compared to what he was about to do with the bat.

Shikhar Dhawan is having a special season to say the least. The second half of his IPL has been absolutely astounding. On the other hand, his partner Prithvi Shaw has kept on showing little glimpses but hasn’t managed to turn them into something big apart from that one 99 against KKR at the Kotla. But today, Shaw was the one who took charge while Dhawan sat back. His innings of 56 definitely deserves applause. After these two openers got going, I don’t think anybody really believed that SRH cold win this game. I didn’t either. Not till the 15th over. That was the over where Rashid Khan can in and did what only he can do. A double wicket maiden over from Rashid completely changed the tide of the match. Now suddenly DC were lagging behind with a Required Run Rate Of above 12 and only one designated batsman at the crease. And guess who that was? That’s right, Rishabh Pant.

The next two overs yielded 18 runs for the Delhi Capitals. Not enough. Now Delhi needed 34 off the last 3. Till then, Khaleel has been the best bowler for SRH with two wickets an a great economy. On the other hand, Basil Thampi had had a bad day. Dropping one catch and going wicketless. Now any captain in their right mind would have bowled Khaleel there, but not Williamson. He went with Basil Thampi and well, the rest is history. Rishabh Pant extracted 22 runs off his over which included 2 6s and 2 4s. After that over, DC needed 12 runs off 12 balls. Quite easy right? Yes, but not for DC. Why do something the easy way if there is a harder way to do it!

Rishabh Pant has the chance to complete his fifty, which would be one of the fastest fifties of this whole season, of a Bhuvaneshwar Kumar delivery when he hit it straight back to him but Kumar slipped and could not effect a run out even if he tried. The non striker wanted to run the single but Rishabh refused because t wouldn’t have been in the right spirit of the game. He got out on the very next ball and lost the chance to reach a personal milestone. But truly a gentleman’s move. Anyway, after Rishabh Pant could not finish it off, we all though that there can’t be another twist in this game. But there was. Rutherford got out and slowly the drama was increasing.

By the time the last over came around, DC still needed 5 runs to win. Thankfully, Khaleel was bowling this over. Nerves might have impacted him though because he bowled a wide on the first ball. The next 3 balls could only be sent for 2 runs and 2 more runs were needed off 3 balls with Amit Mishra on strike. That’s when the drama started. Mishra ji failed to make contact with the delivery but sill ran. As he was going towards the non-striker’s end, he started drifting towards the stumps and effectively blocked the stumps eliminating the chance of a run out. He was rightfully shown the way to the pavilion thanks to the appeal by Khaleel who showed immense presence of mind. Now 2 off 2 were needed and the field was set such that a single would have been difficult. Keemo Paul had to go for a four. He did that. He succeeded at that. The joy as the Delhi players ran out and hugged Paul was enough to warm the most wooden of hearts.

The result was fitting as DC were the ones who were more deserving. Anyway, coming in to the next fixture which will now be CSK Vs DC. They will be facing off on the 10th. I’m not predicting any result, but I really really hope that this DC setup can win that match and reach the finals. Anyway that’s it for this game, thank you for reading!