Fearless Bangalore march on
In some hearts, desperation is the engine that does not know how to die. In others, it is the knife that stabs deep and deadly. That's the double trouble with desperation, and it ripped both ways at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
A place in the semi-finals of the Champions League T20 was at stake, and either the Highveld Lions or the Royal Challengers Bangalore would grab hold of it.
On the night, Bangalore's heart held firm like it hadn't done before in this tournament. "Once we restricted them to that 159 for six, and once we got a solid foundation on the board in reply I knew we could do it," said their captain, Anil Kumble.
Batting at number three, Virat Kohli decided the issue with a feisty 49 not out off 29 balls. "I was waiting for one big over, and that was the 17th," Kohli said. "It was very satisfying."
That over, which was bowled by Ethan O'Reilly, went for 19 runs and took Bangalore to within 24 runs of victory. Kohli made light of a shot he called the "short flick", a snappy dab to the off side that earned a significant share of his runs.
"No, I haven't worked hard on it," he said. "It just comes naturally; I don't know how."
The Lions' heart, alas for them and their fans, who had just begun to believe in them again after years of disappointment, failed.
"We want to leave a legacy of champions," said their visibly downcast skipper, Alviro Petersen. "Hopefully we've won the hearts of other fans who weren't Lions supporters to begin with."
Glum or not, Peterson was proud of his team, who came into the event as no-hopers and shocked the Mumbai Indians in the opening match before going on to beat Guyana.
"We fought all the way," he said. "We went in with a mindset of disbelief, but it wasn't good enough. The better team won.
"We've given everything in this tournament; we've left nothing on the field. We've come up against phenomenal opposition, and it never really bothered us."
Bangalore's reward is a trip back to Kingsmead in Durban for their semi-final.
The fact that this venue was the scene of both of their defeats in the CLT20, at the hands of the South Australia Redbacks and the Mumbai Indians, didn't seem to bother Kumble. "I don't think we need to look at Durban as two losses," he said. "There were a lot of positives to take out of the game against Mumbai.
It was a case of just a few runs and we would have won that game." The night wouldn't have been complete if someone didn't ask if Kevin Pietersen, who is due to return to his native South Africa soon to play two SuperSport Series matches for the Dolphins next month, would replace the injured Jacques Kallis in the Bangalore squad.
"It's a bit tough to say now," Kumble said. "We have to go back and figure out who we can get."
And did he care who his team came up against in the semis?
"No. It doesn't matter."
If Kumble's heart was beating any faster as he tossed those words into the mix carelessly, no one knew.
Telford Vice is a freelance cricket writer in South Africa