April 17, 2013

Live from the Super Over

Six to win off the last ball of a tiebreaker? Been there

These are the moments you dream of: having to hit the last ball for six to win the game.

I'm in Bangalore, making my IPL debut, and we've reached the end of the Super Over after a tie. On strike for that final ball, I'm thinking: keep my shape, keep my head still. He's going full, and if he misses his length, I've got it. But he doesn't miss and I get cleaned up. Shattered.

The week hasn't exactly gone to plan. Being 0 in 3 in the tournament, we needed a win to change the momentum. The boys had prepared well and the addition of Virender Sehwag had given everyone a lift. Unfortunately the "cricketing gods" are not on our side at the moment, as we lost first to Sunrisers in the last over and then RCB in that Super Over. In both games we were probably 20 runs short of what we needed, but our fight and belief kept us in the contest. We know we are not far away, and we now have three home games to turn things around.

Everyone tells me before the RCB game that the Chinnaswamy is one of the best places in India to bat. I don't usually get nervous, but I must admit that sitting in the dugout watching Warner and Sehwag walk out to bat with a packed house screaming and red RCB flags flying, I have a few butterflies. We lose our third wicket, and I am in.

As soon as I step on the field all the nerves go away and I get into my routine. The great thing about the IPL, and the Big Bash League for that matter, is that you get the chance to play alongside some of the legends of international cricket, guys you've watched on TV for years. I never imagined walking out to bat with Mahela Jayawardene, but he gives me a few words on what the wicket is doing and away we go. My first thought is to get off the mark. I can only defend ball one, but get a pull shot to deep square second ball for a single.

The wicket is good and I get to 14 pretty comfortably. I'm starting to think "up the tempo", as there are around six overs to go and we have seven wickets in the shed. So I get one short of a length. Pull shot. Yep, got it. Oh no, picked him out.

Defending the target, we get a few early breakthroughs, including one of the big ones, Chris Gayle. The noise is deafening as Kohli and AB de Villiers start to tear our bowling apart. It's a big advantage to bat second in Bangalore, a tough ground to defend in, especially when there's dew around.

I'm starting to think "up the tempo", as there are around six overs to go and we have seven wickets in the shed. So I get one short of a length. Pull shot. Yep, got it. Oh no, picked him out

Going into the last time-out, they are cruising to an easy victory. We know if we can make a breakthrough, their middle order hasn't batted much and we can put them under a lot of pressure. A run-out from Morne, and a wicket to Nadeem and our stocks rise. Twelve to win from the last over has us thinking like favourites. Ravi Rampaul hits a great shot over cover for six first ball, and they finally get down to two to win from one ball. Play and miss, a fumble from the keeper and we have a Super Over.

It's decided that Umesh will bowl our over, and he starts beautifully, with just three runs from the first four balls. But if you miss your length to players like AB, the ball can disappear. It does, twice.

That leaves us needing 16 to win - a draw won't help as they hit more sixes than us. As Sehwag was off the field at the end, I've been chosen to bat with Warner, with Irfan next man in. Warner crunches the first ball straight to point when a metre either way and it's four. Irfan comes in and gets us to five off the last ball, with me on strike... and the happy ending does not eventuate.


For our first full day off since the beginning of the tournament, a few of us took the chance to play some golf after the Hyderabad match. The venue was the Classic Golf Club, just outside Delhi. It took a solid hour to get there, driving along potholed and speed-bumped roads until, in the middle of nowhere, a beautiful and lush golf course appears.

On the way there we decide the teams for the day will be South Africa (Johan Botha and Roelof van der Merwe) against Asia-Pacific (Mahela Jayawardene and myself). We will play off scratch and the winners will get a signed 500-rupee note from each of the losers.

Mahela and I don't begin well, trying to get used to the hired clubs. We hang in, being 2 down after 6 but playing much worse than the South African pair. The turning point of the game comes on the seventh. Roelof is in the trees right, Johan drags his tee shot in the water left. With Mahela and I both on the green for 2, Johan knocks his third to three feet and sinks the putt for a half. There's no coming back from there and we lose 6 and 4. Boats is the player of the day, shooting a 4 over 76.

Despite the scoreline, having the morning away from the hotel and away from cricket is just what we needed. I even pick up the nickname of Bubba, presumably for my ugly left-handed swing that went everywhere off the tee, a little bit like last year's Masters champion and left-hander Bubba Watson. I just wish I hit them as far as the real Bubba - on the cricket pitch as well as the fairway.

Ben Rohrer plays for New South Wales, Melbourne Renegades, and for Delhi Daredevils in the IPL