Rising Pune Supergiant batsman Manoj Tiwary has taken "complete blame" for not finishing the game for his team against Delhi Daredevils on Friday night, which means they can still miss out on a playoff spot. Supergiant were chasing 169 at the Feroz Shah Kotla and a win would have sealed a playoff berth, along with table-toppers Mumbai Indians. They needed 43 runs from 24 balls with Tiwary and MS Dhoni in a fifth-wicket stand but Dhoni was run out for 5 and the visitors were unable to strike a single boundary for 22 balls until the last over started.
"I want to take the complete blame for that because I was the batsman who was set over there," Tiwary said after the match. "And prior to the last over we couldn't get any boundaries at that point of time and I was the man who was on strike and was not able to connect. But obviously, the match was in our hands at one point of time and that's the way it happens at times.
"We tried our best but we have to go back now and see what went wrong and how the batsmen could have scored more runs, find out what kind of strokes we could have played at that situation and come back harder in the next game. It's going to be a pressure game because both the teams (Rising Pune and Kings XI Punjab) want to win and let's see who comes best in that game."
Tiwary, who finished on 60 off 45 balls, said Dhoni "was not aware where the ball went" which led to his run-out in the 18th over, making the equation tougher for Rising Pune. Dhoni had top-edged a slower ball from Cummins towards short fine leg and had looked back immediately but only strolled for the first few steps. It was only when Dhoni realised Mohammed Shami had swooped in quickly, did he start sprinting down but a sharp direct-hit caught him a few inches short.
"He (Dhoni) mentioned that he couldn't see the ball where it went and that is the reason he couldn't make it because [the] ball went behind [square] so he wasn't aware where the ball went," Tiwary explained. "But it happens, even the quickest of persons gets run-out and today was an example. It's very rare, but yes, when things don't go your way, things like these happen. But you must give credit to Shami as well because he took that risk of throwing and taking that chance because if that ball wouldn't have hit the stumps [then] it would have been one more extra run."
Shami later said he wanted to give it a try even if Dhoni is known for his quick running between the wickets. "You can say it was a game changer," Shami said at the press conference. "Even though Mahi bhai runs very well between the wickets I just tried that if, 50-50, it hits, then we can turn the match."
Daredevils' Karun Nair, who top-scored with 64 off 45 and set up their score of 168 for 8, lauded Shami's "great effort", knowing what a threat Dhoni could be towards the end of the chase.
"That was one of the turning points of the game because to get Mahi bhai out at that time was one of the biggest moments," Nair told iplt20.com. "Because if he's there till the end he'll finish off the game most of the time. It was a great effort by Shami to get him out."
Dhoni has struggled to get going this season and has managed only 240 runs from 13 innings so far, at a strike rate of 113.74, his worst in the 10 IPL seasons. His average of 24 so far is also his lowest in an IPL season. Tiwary defended Dhoni's performances saying it was difficult for him to score a lot of runs since he came down the order, and still had a "lot of game left in him."
"Dhoni still has a lot of time left," Tiwary said. "And, more importantly, if he is doing so well in the present then why overthink. Obviously, in terms of runs, we should consider that he comes to bat down the order. In T20 cricket we only want the strike rate to be, say, over 120. But Mahi bhai has done so well in the past and set such high standards that we feel that he should still be batting with the same strike rate of 130-160. But it is practically not possible.
"You need to look at the circumstances too. He struck a good partnership with Ben Stokes in a game where Stokes hit a hundred. That game, if you see, what we needed most was a partnership and we got that partnership from the experienced player.
"Mahi bhai had that experience and he built that partnership. His strike rate might not have been that good but won us the game, so that is a match-winning innings, right? I always feel performances should be judged taking into account the situation of the game and then see what he is contributing to the game. That is more important, rather than the strike rate of the player. Obviously, the format is so fast that everybody wants to see sixes and fours and strike rates of 150 but it is not possible all the time. I feel he still has a lot of game left in him."