Kings XI Punjab v Chennai Super Kings, IPL 2010, Dharamsala April 18, 2010

Punjab end disappointing campaign with defeat

Cricinfo staff

While MS Dhoni was hammering Juan Theron in the penultimate over of the match, Irfan Pathan grew restless at square leg. He began stretching his hands and was soon waving them up and down. He squatted on the grass, folded his right leg horizontally while simultaneously stretching forward, trying to get his forehead to the left knee, and repeated the exercise with the other leg. As the umpire handed Theron his cap, Irfan had raced to the other end, removing his jumper and walking to his mark to bowl the final over. He had 15 runs to defend.

Irfan had already done it once at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, bowling a tight final over to force a tie and a Super Over, which Kings XI Punjab won. Dhoni had predicted at the time that the loss would cause a lot of misery for Chennai. It did, and only victory today would secure a semi-final spot.

The pressure was shared by batsman and bowler. As the chase approached its climax, Dhoni had managed to sway the home support and a full house at the HPCA stadium had started chanting "Dhoni, Dhoni".

The brief in the final overs is simple: bowl yorkers. Irfan bowled an angled delivery on off stump and Dhoni made room to drive it into the gap between sweeper cover and deep extra cover for four. Irfan did not recover and his lengths were lengths were easy for Dhoni to pick up. After conceding two consecutive sixes to end the game, Irfan collected his jumper from the umpire, shook hands with Dhoni and walked towards the dressing room with head bowed.

"I was hoping he [Irfan] would make a mistake and bowl in my area more than me playing an extraordinary shot. He did that thrice in four deliveries and it went my way," Dhoni said later.

Tom Moody, Punjab's coach, gave credit to Chennai for staying strong even though Punjab were in control till the 18th over. "With two overs to go, you would have probably felt we were slightly in favour, but we didn't execute our yorkers as well we should have done in those last 12 balls," he said. It was not the first time Punjab had lost the plot from a winning position this season and Moody admitted failure on all three fronts. "Unfortunately there were too many games like tonight, where we had winning scores and we couldn't defend them. We failed consistently in all three - bat, ball and field."

Barring Mahela Jayawardene, who found form mid-way into the season, the rest of Punjab's batsmen struggled. Yuvraj Singh, who came into the IPL with a wrist injury, was the most consistent failure and that generated gossip and condemnation. So much so that Moody and Kumar Sangakkara had to perform damage control after every loss. "What simply was the case was we had a number of players out of form," was Moody's assessment. "It was not until the back half of the season that our batsmen came into form. The second thing we had is a number of injuries which really affected our strike power more than anything else."

Compounding the failure of the batsmen was the absence of an impact bowler, such as Dale Steyn or Doug Bollinger, capable of clinching tight matches. Brett Lee's injury troubles made it worse, while James Hopes and Jerome Taylor failed to arrive due to injury.

As for the Indians, Sreesanth, who had sarcastically announced on his return to the Indian team that his maverick self was 'his-story' - turned out a sad story, roaming around aimlessly in training sessions, as he found little support from team management, who reportedly decided to keep him out on disciplinary grounds. Moody admitted the Indian domestic players couldn't raise their game to the level that players in the other teams had managed to.

Responsibility fell on youngsters like Theron, who while impressive is still learning the craft. "Rusty did a great job but his role was towards the back-end of the innings, not as a frontline strike bowler. Our frontline lacked teeth," Moody said. "Tonight was a good example where our spinners put us in a wonderful position but our medium-pacers gave away plenty."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on April 20, 2010, 13:12 GMT

    It would have been better for Yuvi & Punjab team to have him dropped for 3 to 4 matches at least.Yuvi was out of sorts and he was more of a liability. Punjab should stick to Mahela - Marsh opening and should find a genuine pacie next time around!

  • samson on April 20, 2010, 12:58 GMT

    like many others i would also stand with the selectors for the team that they have selected. having said that i sincerely feel that P OJHA should have been there at any cost.very unfortunate though. yuvi, gambir n sehwag will SURELY lift their games at the international level. no worries. only worry is about Y PATHAN. for me he does not deserve a place in the squad. all the best india. JAI HO..

  • ramesh on April 20, 2010, 11:49 GMT

    Dont worry Aravind. Unlike Sanka, Dhoni have much confidence on Yuvi and bat at 4 after Raina ahead of Dhoni. Yuvi do not let us down.

  • ramesh on April 20, 2010, 11:46 GMT

    I dont know why everything fall on Yuvi and Irfan? I agreed Yuvi is going in the bad phase and Irfan is no more strike bowler. But What about Sanka and Others. Do Yuvi select the team? Irfan is playing as an all rounder and not a strike bowler. He proved by scoring more than Sankakara. Hello Tom Moddy sir, Why did you keep dropping Powar though he is one of the best in the tournament he played? You are praising Theron, What he did apart from one match against Chennai? Praising Sanka for reason only you know. You are playing bowlers like Malik ahead of Sreesanth? Everytime Sanka comes at 3, eats up the ball, when Yuvi comes up. it is afte 12 overs, 80 for 1. Jayawardane would be 40 from 40 balls. Since Jayawardane is set batsman, he could acccelarate. Release Yuvi and Pathan from the team for next year and see what other IPL franchises do? Dhoni,Koch and Pune would be the first person to jump into action to take any of these players. Dont blame others, see yourself first please.

  • Dummy4 on April 20, 2010, 2:26 GMT

    Why the hell are you hating yuvraj. why don't you think about other players, just because there was rift rumours of sanga and yuvi, doesn't mean that all focus should go on him. there are many players who didn't perform, and luck is not with you in ur whole career. even saching, sehwag, dravid n many more biggies faced tough lucks like him. dhoni, gambhir, sehwag, yusuf pathan, irfan pathan, dinesh karthik, ishant sharma, sreesanth, and many others didn't perform as well, some of them started well doesn't mean that they are better than him.

  • Dummy4 on April 19, 2010, 23:06 GMT

    Thanks for mahela ,sanga .Irfan Pathan and young Marsh for the hard work.Well done guys.Good entertainment.

  • Dummy4 on April 19, 2010, 22:21 GMT

    The biggest of all mistakes done by Punjab is to keep IKP and Yuvi playing for the team. Sangy and the other team-mates had to bear the bad patches because of these two. Punjab must seriously think of re-constituting the team. There is no derth of local talent, heroic faces must be sacked and risk should be taken with new-comers. It is not wise to take repeated risk with oldies. IKP has completely forgotten the art and skill of left arm seam and Yuvi is hanky panky with the bat and very dreadful thing is their fielding.

    Punjab must must go for re-vitalising and refreshing their team for the next season.

  • Sreyesh on April 19, 2010, 22:07 GMT

    Similarities between Yuvi & Dada: Both left handed batters with beautiful strokes and not only do they fail when the captaincy is snatched away from them, but they also bring the whole team down. So my guess would be that Kings XI Punjab will give yuvi his captaincy back next year and Punjab will fail again like KKR did.

  • james on April 19, 2010, 17:32 GMT

    Yuvraj Singh is the most over-rated player in world cricket today. He was good, but isn't anymore... time for a reality check

  • Aravinth on April 19, 2010, 15:16 GMT

    Hope yuvi gets back his rhythm back and performs well, in the 20-20 WC, I would love to c him performing well and at his best. Aravinth

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