SRH Vs MI: A Tim David Dubious Moment In IPL-2022?


Against my wishes as a true lover of the game of cricket, I’ve still preferred to use the word ‘dubious’ in the title of this piece. This is essentially because what happened in the 18th over in the match between Mumbai Indians (MI) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) belied all logic and tenets of professional cricket. Further, this basically business-driven tournament has had its long history of controversies and scandals over the decades. Even now, if you surf the internet over IPL matches, you’ll find a whole lot of sceptics who think most the matches are always stage-managed, primarily through the scourge of the game called spot fixing. Well, their views cannot be correct in general, because we’ve been witnessing fiercely competitive cricket in most of the IPL seasons, and on many occasions this writer has commented about the triumph of cricket over business. Okay, now to that moment that happened last evening at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai.

 

Mumbai, opting to field first, eventually faced a very imposing target of 194 runs to win thanks basically to SRH captain Kane Williamson’s decision to demote himself in the batting order following his series of failures as an opener and the team’s five losses on the trot, and this tactic paid dividends instantly with Priyam Garg (42 in 26) and Rahul Tripathi (76 in 44) almost took the match away from MI with, for a change, a good contribution by Nicholas Pooran (38 in 22). However, again for a change, MI raced to an opening partnership of 95 runs in the 11th over and was very much in the game. But then, an inspired bowling by the Indian pace sensation Umran Malik and Washington Sundar jolted them badly, Rohit Sharma narrowly missing what could’ve been his first fifty of the ipl-2022, and MI was finally reduced to needing 67 runs of the last five overs which was near definitive with all recognized batsmen back in the pavilion.

 


And then Tim David who was given only three matches prior to this with insignificant performances happened. He started hitting all around the park from the word go notching up 46 runs in just 18 balls with 3 fours and 4 sixes. In that momentous 18th over David collected 26 runs off the first five balls of Natarajan, suddenly making MI looking at a magnificent victory needing only 19 runs in 13 balls which was immensely achievable considering the standards of the tournament. But unfortunately, in a desperate move to retain the strike David raced to the other end. It was hardly convincing that he failed to notice that the ball never actually went beyond the bowler. To bring it to a horrible disaster, Ramandeep Singh, also started running to the other end instead of taking the most professional and logical step of sacrificing his wicket. And can you believe it? In the 19th over with a new batsman at the crease the much-discredited veteran pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar delivered a maiden. Perhaps a never-before incident in IPL history. Ramandeep tried this best in the last over, but SRH went on to win by just 3 runs.

 

Now was this ‘dubious’ or ‘rush of blood’ or ‘unprofessional’ or a combination of all? ‘Rush of blood’ perception is valid to the extent that both of the batsmen involved were rookies—Time David a Singaporean-Australian batting all-rounder who made his debut in T20 cricket only in 2019 for the Singapore National Cricket team playing, so far, only T20 cricket in various leagues and became the first Singapore cricketer to feature in IPL when he was purchased by Chennai in 2021 while Ramandeep Singh, a bowling all-rounder and a Ranji Trophy player, was playing his first IPL. But even then, they’ve been playing in tough competitive cricket and should’ve at least been aware of the professional cricket standards.  Besides, one rookie should not so much doubt the ability of another officially all-rounder rookie to take a single. In all, combined with the stark unprofessionalism, lack of any logic this act verges on the absurd, and therefore, I stick to my word ‘dubious’.

 

Now, what are the ramifications that could follow this action? IPL-2022 is already hit from the business side with the consistent franchise MI set to figure at that bottom and not only that the same team also ousted the commercially more viable franchise CSK; and had MI pulled off the match SRH would also have been out of contention. If Kolkata wins today against Lucknow the former will reach 14 points; if Bangalore loses tomorrow against Gujarat the former will remain on 14; if Delhi loses against Mumbai the former remains on 14 points; and in that scenario the last league between Hyderabad and Punjab is set to be a do-or-die match, if the former wins, they will also be on 14 points. This signifies a five-way locking of 14 points with the net run-rate becoming the decisive factor. So much for keeping the excitement of the tournament on. Of course, other options are immensely possible and one or two of such possibilities could still make the last league match inconsequential. Anyway, we’re going to observe the proceedings of the tournament very closely here onward. Very closely indeed. And we’d like to be proved dreadfully wrong.

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