Mumbai Indians v Royal Challengers Bangalore, CLT20 2010, Durban September 19, 2010

Kumble's scowl and Kohli's agony

You could forget the game before the weekend but tonight, at least, you might take away two expressions from it - a scowl and a distraught face

Sometimes you compress a game into a solitary expression of human emotion. Shaun Pollock's tears in a World Cup, Rameez Raja's sajda in another World cup, Andrew Flintoff's handshake with Brett Lee or Lance Klusener's icy-cool look back at the devastation behind him after that famous run-out.

You might probably forget this game before the weekend but tonight, at least, you might take away two expressions from it - a scowl and a distraught face. They came at different turning points and captured the moment and the pulse of the game.

Kumble's scowl is one of the most recognisable vignettes of Indian cricket. Today it was seen at various moments when his team-mates fumbled but the severest of them was reserved for himself. When directed against the others, the scowl is filled with anger. When it's his mistake, you can see his face muscles tighten, his pupils dilate, and he grits his teeth and yanks his head away. It doesn't feel like solely a disappointment. It feels more personal than that. That shake of the head is almost as if he wants to throw that feeling out of his body and get on with the game. The intensity is almost scary. Mumbai were tottering at 86 for 5 in the 15th over when it happened. Kumble got one to dip quickly on Dwayne Bravo who hit it back to his right but he couldn't hold on. Kumble lunged with both hands but spilled it.

He said later it was one of those things. That he was expecting the catch but missed it completely. That he didn't put up his hand today and his team lost because of his bowling and that dropped catch. He then said something which captures him perfectly: "It can be cruel even after 25 years."

Now to that distraught face of Virat Kohli. He began his career fairly recently and has perhaps seen more joy than sorrow. Tonight offered a moment of a kind of gloom that only comes after a high. If he had not played a blinder to take his team within a shot of victory and experienced a bit of a high, he wouldn't have been so sad later.

We associate a batsman with a signature shot. Kohli's is that swat-flick that he used so profitably today. Herschelle Gibbs plays a similar shot but much squarer behind the wicket. Moin Khan's version of the shot was more audacious. Back to Kohli. When 40 were needed off 18, Kohli swat-flicked Abu Nechim over midwicket. Flick. Blink. The ball soared over midwicket boundary. When 26 were needed off 10, he played that shot twice to make Malinga wince in pain. When 11 were needed off 4, he swat-flicked Zaheer Khan and repeated that shot again two balls later. Both came off full tosses, the kind of tripe that Zaheer had delivered in an earlier game against South Australia Redbacks.

It came down to the final delivery. It was another full toss, and that too on the legs. Kohli went for his signature shot. Blink. Flick. Four? Nope. Blink. Flick. Out. The ball ballooned up and another youngster Ambati Rayudu settled under it. Kohli was distraught and he sank to his knees. Rahul Dravid consoled him but Kohli didn't move for a while. Kumble later said Kohli was still feeling the pain of that moment. "The previous ball he played the same shot and got a four. On a different day it might have gone over the keeper and we could have got two runs and got a Super Over.. but it was a brilliant knock." Indeed. "Batting at No. 6 in Twenty20 cricket is not easy," Kumble said. "Virat is a young cricketer looking to make a mark in international cricket. I am sure he is a little disappointed that he is playing at No. 6 in our team but the team dynamics are such that we need him to play there. Today was his opportunity; having come close he is very disappointed."

These are the moments you might take away from tonight's game. A scowl of a 40-year old man who feels the pain of a dropped catch, a misfield or a game lost despite playing for 20 years at the highest level and a distraught face of a youngster who perhaps wants to play a match-winning knock that he can remember after 20 years. It was not to be. Tonight wasn't their day.

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on September 21, 2010, 18:37 GMT

    @Samit baigi.... Banglore are in semi finals...CSK also will be.

  • Runster on September 21, 2010, 3:50 GMT

    It will be pretty disappointing if non of the indian teams make it to the semis. I hope they will. There is still a chance: RCB needs to beat lions and CSK have to beat warriors. Both teams are very capable of winning these matches. @ROHIT CSK have some of the best indian T20 batsmen in the world. Raina, dhoni, occasionally badrinanth, marali vijay is alright. Dravid and kohli are average at odis, esp dravid who is only good at tests. Just cos CSK are better than u, u dont have to show ur jealousy.

  • Dummy4 on September 20, 2010, 20:26 GMT we go then. No IPL teams in the semi final. This is what the Indians boost about and it has come to nothing.

  • Dummy4 on September 20, 2010, 17:30 GMT

    @ Rohit... CSK are useless? whoa..... Dhoni, Raina do well in internationals. Vijay was given chance only once after his good performance in IPL. he replaced the injured gambhir. we need a opener, to replace and vijay was good at that time. tell me who can replace gambhir in consistency as well as performance. we tried karthik, kohli and you knew the results. Dravid is an excellent player, i accept it and i want him to play ODI. but he is the wall, a 1 down batsmen to build the innings. A batsman who strikes at powerplay should open the innings. so dont talk " CSK uselessness " .

  • Dummy4 on September 20, 2010, 16:34 GMT

    @ JIM.... sorry man , i typed the name wrong. my comment was in reply to @ SAVAR KAUL who talked nonsense about Dravid. Hope the indian selection gives Rahul a chance in ODI. we all saw how we succumb in srilanka. we need a man to build innings.

  • Harish on September 20, 2010, 16:29 GMT

    The Wall will always be one of the Most Valuable Players for India...Just that Srikkanth and Dhoni do not have the intellectual depth as well as an absence of ego to recognise it. MSD will soon sink Indian cricket with his 'all aititude and no skills' policy.

  • Dummy4 on September 20, 2010, 14:25 GMT

    You are quite right Rohit. I am a big supporter of CSK and love all the players. But I do feel that they don't perform in the international level as they perform in the IPL. But the word 'useless' is a bit too harsh. So I agree with you as well as disagree with you. Recently I was following the CSK vs VB game in cricinfo. There someone posted that the only way to stop Vijay from scoring is to put on the Indian jersey on him and he was right

  • Dummy4 on September 20, 2010, 13:33 GMT

    RCB is a far better outfit. They deserved a win yesterday. MI win means that one all of the Indian teams are now on the borderline. Though I have a gut feeling that RCB will pip the Victorians for a semi final berth.

  • Vishwanath on September 20, 2010, 13:19 GMT

    they seem more emotional when $200,000 is on the line

  • Dummy4 on September 20, 2010, 12:18 GMT

    yes u r right . it wont effect rcb even if they have won with MI . IF tHEY ALSo WIN they should have to face the simular win suituation against LIONS.MI ARE OUT BECOZ lack of net per point table .red backs qualified to semis.LIONS played 3, won 2 and lost 1 net run rate +0.716. RCB played 3 won 1 and lost 2 net runrate+0.852.MI played 4 won 2 and lost 2 net runrate +0.221. as guyana who played 3 and lost all they r basically out. so in that case RCB has a chance to make in semis by beating LIONS.SO GO RCB!!

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