'Duckworth-Lewis is rubbish' - Fleming
Rising Pune Supergiants coach Stephen Fleming lashed out at the Duckworth-Lewis method after his side's eight-wicket defeat against Kolkata Knight Riders, saying that the game was over for them as soon as the rule came into effect. The match in Kolkata on Saturday was marred by rain and a heavy spell interrupted Supergiants' innings with the score on 103 for 6 in 17.4 overs. After more than two hours of play were lost, Knight Riders were set 66 to win in nine overs, a target they achieved with four overs to spare. The defeat pushed Supergiants out of contention for a playoff spot.
"Duckworth-Lewis is rubbish," Fleming said after the match. "As soon you get stuck with Duckworth-Lewis the game is over. We could have gone to 135, maybe 140, maybe we could have hit 25 runs in the last three overs. [A total of]135 is good. The track was turning and it was going to be a difficult chase with our spinners, but as soon Duckworth-Lewis and rain [came in] the game was over. Simple as that.
"We thought 135 was a good score. It [the pitch] was difficult. It was turning, it was slow and it was going to get probably slower if there was no rain. So we looked at 135-140. We would have taken a little bit of getting there in terms of [scoring] 25 off the last three overs, but with Dhoni there, that is what he was looking forward to from the last two overs in particular. We were denied that."
Supergiants lost their in-form opening pair of Ajinkya Rahane and Usman Khawaja quickly after opting to bat on a pitch that seemed two-paced. George Bailey patiently carried out the repair work but Knight Riders tightened their grip with quick dismissals and attacking field placements for Supergiants captain MS Dhoni.
Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir placed himself at silly point and put a short leg and two slips around Dhoni's bat as soon as the batsman walked in in the 11th over. He then brought in a silly mid-off to try and tempt Dhoni into playing a mis-timed shot.
Gambhir had used similar tactics against Dhoni in the first match between the two teams in April in Pune. On that occasion, Dhoni quietly played out Sunil Narine before taking on the quicker bowlers. At Eden Gardens on Saturday, however, Dhoni had to craft a big finish on a track that was slowing down. As the last specialist batsman in the line-up, he adopted the safest approach, scampering for hard-run twos with the aim of unleashing the big shots in the final few overs.
Dhoni eventually ended on a subdued 8* off 22 deliveries and his strike rate of 36.36 was the lowest by a batsman who has faced more than 20 balls in all IPLs. His overall strike rate this season is 123.59, second-lowest among batsmen who have faced 100 or more balls at Nos. 4, 5, 6. Only David Miller's strike rate of 114.85 is poorer.
Fleming defended Dhoni's innings, stating that the only way to succeed on the pitch was to play the waiting game.
"The approach was we played positively. We lost wickets because the ball turned. Bailey got out to a very good ball as soon as Chawla and Narine came on," he said. "It was difficult to score. That is how we thought the pitch was going to be. We knew we were going to lose wickets throughout, it was that type of a pitch. If we scraped to 135-140 and, if someone played really well we could have got to 150. As soon as you reduce that score, with the wet ball and rain, it borders on the farcical."
Fleming said there was no point in analyzing whether Dhoni's approach was right or wrong. "There are not many stories here today apart from the fact that rain curtailed what could have been a tall chase. They might have come and got it but with our spinners, the longer the game went we would have had more chances. As soon as it was reduced, game over. Run-a-ball- basically and three overs in the Powerplay, we were never going to win a low-scoring game. That basically sums up our run in the tournament."
When asked if the ICC should look into how the D/L method is applied in T20s, Fleming said the rule was unsuitable to the format and he had brought up this issue in the past.
"I have said it for years. This [D/L method] doesn't suit this game. Others have said it, but it doesn't seem to be addressed. There is no point carrying on about it because there doesn't seem to be a willingness to change. But it is not made for T20 game. And I have said that for years - it is just ridiculous for the team that fields second. Until it is addressed you have just got to hope the skies don't open, and try and really forecast. We thought it was going to be fine, but obviously it wasn't."
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo