Mumbai Indians v Trinidad & Tobago, CLT20, Bangalore September 26, 2011

Ganga loses gamble on safety-first

The fifth bowler continues to be a problem for Trinidad and Tobago

For the second game in a row at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, it went down to the last ball. For the second game in a row, it was two needed off the final delivery. For the second game in a row, the fielding captain chose to keep the field spread out, and the chasing side won.

On Friday, Wayne Parnell broke Royal Challengers Bangalore's hearts with a scuffed two to long-on. In that game, the defensive field for the final ball could have been explained by the high scores in the match and the fact that Parnell, a player with international experience and one accustomed to high-pressure situations, was at the crease and had just muscled his first ball for a boundary.

On Monday, in a game where both T&T and Mumbai Indians found run-scoring exceedingly difficult, the final ball was to be faced by Yuzvendra Chahal, who at 21 has little exposure on the big stage and shown modest batting capability. Even as late as three deliveries into the last over, the No.11 Chahal wouldn't have expected to be needed in the middle, only forced to stride out after run-outs on the fourth and fifth ball of the over.

The T&T captain, Daren Ganga, had attacked with helmeted close-in fielders for significant parts of the innings, but decided to keep a deep-set field for the last delivery to be bowled by his brother, the offspinner Sherwin. On the leg side, only short fine leg was in the circle, with three men patrolling the boundary. On the off side, there were three fielders in the ring, and a sweeper and long-off deep.

Perhaps the decision to not crowd the in-field and push for a win was a result of a lack of confidence in Sherwin Ganga. The fifth bowler has proved problematic for T&T so far in the tournament, with Ganga and Lendl Simmons going at nearly 12 an over in the two matches in the qualifying phase.

The strategy nearly paid off as well, despite Ganga sending down a poor final delivery. It was a low full toss that was flailed toward midwicket. Adrian Barath had to come in from deep midwicket nearly all the way to the circle, but even as he collected the ball the batsmen had just taken off for the second. Even though Barath's throw was several yards off the mark, wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin had the time to effect the run-out that would have prompted the super over T&T aimed for, but his underarm throw missed the stumps.

Most of the T&T fielders sank to their knees in despair, and the others barely moved, still digesting the fact that their valiant attempts to defend the seemingly indefensible total of 98 had left them with nothing to show on the points table. Only Daren Ganga shuffled around, patting his team-mates on the back and lauding their efforts.

After the match, Daren Ganga explained why he went for the tactic. "Whenever a team has got two runs to win, you first and foremost ensure that you at least get a draw," he said. "Judging from the way we were bowling and the way we were fielding, it was very difficult for us to defend one run, we tried to have another bite at the cherry, so to speak, and play the super over."

There should be little criticism of Daren Ganga for the strategy, though T&T lost a match that Harbhajan Singh said Mumbai didn't deserve to win. Given the fiendish difficulty in stopping the single even with the field brought in, the safety-first approach was probably the sensible option. It would have been fun, though, to see if Chahal would have batted for the super over if all the fielders were positioned in the circle or if he would have gone for glory by hitting over the top.

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on September 28, 2011, 0:17 GMT

    Come in drtrinileggie, what's your take on this? It was a good fight back from T&T with Ganga as captain. Almost as Fantastic as WI with Sammy as Captain

  • Dummy4 on September 27, 2011, 13:12 GMT

    I did not like the comment " we did not deserve to win" as per the match denarii both teams Bowled exceptionally well the only difference and the issue was the batting from both sides. T&T tried to defend the total but couldn't in the end , yes MI could have won easily but they didn't . Both teams batting let them down, both reams deserved to win as they played their heart out. Good luck to MI and T&T....

  • Dummy4 on September 27, 2011, 12:56 GMT

    The only difference between the two teams was that MI won two points for this match while T&T won none. Otherwise there was nothing to separate the two teams.

  • Dummy4 on September 27, 2011, 7:18 GMT

    i am mi fan say MI dint deserve to win but still we will take that win a win is win but we need to improve batting can except malinga and bhajji to do batting and bowling both but still 9 injured and 2 on 2 is gr8 MI roxx but still my heart goes out to T and T made cricket the real winners they were awesome for 119 balls just last bowl cost them congo MI and even more T and T for making cricket the winner

  • Dummy4 on September 27, 2011, 6:06 GMT

    The fact is, though, that the best way to stop a team scoring two is to stop them from scoring ANY. It's constantly shown in the closing overs of one-day games that batsmen are more likely to get back for 2 than they are to be run out, even if it goes straight to the man on the boundary. Bringing the field in is by far the best overall strategy.

  • Bhagya on September 27, 2011, 3:34 GMT

    What will Mumbai Indians do without Lasith Malinga.....Mali we need you in the next T20 WC..With players like Dilshan,sanga,mahela,angelo,ajantha and young chandimal will be a very dangerous side...Keep bowling well Mali and keep hitting those sixes....

  • Dummy4 on September 27, 2011, 2:14 GMT

    Such things happen is cricket. Sometimes fielder pull-up a blinder to catch a impossible looking catch or running someone out. And sometimes they floor the dolly catches or miss the simple run out chances . This is part and parcel of cricket and this makes cricket so interesting to watch.

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