Emotional Rollercoaster: KKR win a thriller with Rahul Tripathi six, beating Delhi Capitals by 3 wickets
KKR wanted 7 runs in 6 balls for a place in the final. Rahul Tripathi could have easily made it “1 run in 5 balls” had he shown the deserving disrespect to Ashwin’s rank long-hop. He did swing the bat but the ball rolled to long-on, and equally slowly Tripathi would drag his feet to the non-striker’s end. Had he missed the chance to be the hero? The next 4 balls had every possible emotion packed into them. Players on field, those in the dugouts, WAGs in the guest boxes, owners in the VVIP suits were all on one crazy stadium-sized rollercoaster – feeling a heady rush one moment and nauseating the next. Those manic final moments had a couple of embarrassing ducks, one almost-six. Ashwin looked like he was finally having his big IPL moment and Pant was on the threshold of being called the next Dhoni. While all this was happening, Rahul would have been burning within for not taking Ashwin’s early gift. On second thoughts, had he killed the climax on the first ball of the final over, it would have been so un-IPLish. KKR, a franchise owned by a Bollywood star, reaching the final without drama would have been so unreal. Next time Rahul was on strike, he didn’t miss. This time the ball sailed over the long-on boundary. Tripathi gave his toothy smile to the delight of the KKR dugout and the millions of pandals around the world. Like in most movies, Rahul first tied himself in knots and when the world thought he was trapped, he cut loose. Just like those Bollywood Rahuls.
Prithvi Shaw had no chance once he didn’t read the ball from the hands of Varun Chakravarthy. He had plonked his front foot forward and across and waited for his doom. The ball from Chakravarthy landed on a length and broke in to rap the pad first before it hit the bat. The appeal went up with the umpire K N Ananthapadmanabhan , who was a leg spinner with a good googly in his playing days and took his time to agree with the increasingly-angsty Chakravarthy and Dinesh Karthik. Shaw lingered for a while to check with his partner if he should go for DRS but Shikhar Dhawan’s suggestion was to check the replay on the dressing-room television. Ananthapadmanabhan is well-respected umpire in domestic cricket and in the 2019 Ranji season, he umpired from both ends in the final as the other umpire got injured and the replacement was to arrive only later. His role model in umpiring is S Venkataragavan, whose brusque manner seems to have afflicted Ananthapadmanabhan who can be quite stern if the players carry on with their appeals or unnecessarily question his decisions.
Candies & friendly full-toss after a torrent
It was only a cursory smile, but its significance couldn’t be understated. Shikhar Dhawan was looking a fish out of water against Lockie Ferguson’s pace. Ferguson bowled a 152-kph thunderbolt and Dhawan wanted to play it past point. But the Delhi Capitals opener was a little late and the ball zipped past. The next delivery came at 148 kph, the southpaw charged down the track, aiming to flay it over point. Yet again, he was beaten for pace. Another express delivery followed, fuller and thudding on to the pad. Dhawan still wasn’t off the mark. An over later, he was up against Sunil Narine’s mystery and the first ball beat the bat again. Pressure was mounting, when Narine bowled a friendly full-toss, allowing Dhawan to break the shackles. The getting out of jail shot deserved a smile, relief writ large on his face.
Daunted, defensive Ashwin
The only slow-and-steady act that R Ashwin did in his first three overs was tying Venkatesh Iyer’s shoelaces carefully. Iyer had requested Ashwin to sort out his laces which had come undone, and Ashwin immediately stopped wiping the dew off the ball and helped out. His bowling though was disappointingly defensive. He kept firing the ball or side-arming them in an effort to contain rather than take wickets. Perhaps, it was the dew factor but Ashwin the high-class off spinner who outwit Eoin Morgan the other night with a lovely loopy off break or the gutsy one who dared to toss it up and take out the likes of Chris Gayle and Rohit Sharma in the past was missing. Instead, we had the version who just kept firing them in. He would furiously towel-dry the ball and remained defensive. Even the fields set for him by Rishabh Pant right from the second over of the chase was defensive. There didn’t seem any clear plan for taking wickets and both Iyer and Shubman Gill kept punching and driving him to rotate the strike. He’d drop a sitter a few overs later.
He got a chance to redeem himself in the last over and nearly pulled it off too. He was defending just 7 runs after Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje had almost pulled off an heist with quick wickets but there was still Shakib Al Hasan and Sunil Narine. Ashwin buckled his knees, stooped, and side-armed loopy slow stuff this time. Not fast like the previous three overs. And Shakib fell, lbw and then Ashwin held his nerve to keep the ball up to Narine who holed out to long-off. Then with 6 runs needed off the final two, Ashwin had his first mistake of that over. He went for the short and flat stuff and Tripathi walloped it for the match-winning six over long-off.
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