A win-win situation
As he walked away from the presentation ceremony, Warriors' captain Davy Jacobs turned to MS Dhoni and gave him the thumbs-up sign. Dhoni returned the compliment. It was that kind of a night. Both teams went home happy. It was a strange night in some ways. Neither team extended themselves. Both played within themselves. In the end, both left the arena happy.
Let's take the case of Chennai first. You have to win to qualify for the semi-final and you win the toss. What do you do? Chennai, rightly, decided early that on this slow track where the ball stopped and turned, 160 would be a good score. They showed their positive intent when they went after Nicky Boje in the seventh over. It was fascinating to watch.
Here was a spinner's track where you perhaps expected that they will go after the pacers. But this is a team with batsmen who are good players of spin and they went after Boje. They looted 16 runs from that over to jump to 53 for no loss from 7 overs. Jacobs immediately removed Boje from the attack and introduced his trump card, Justin Kreusch.
Prior to this game, Kreusch has bowled just four overs in this tournament. He bowled two overs in one game and a solitary over apiece in the next two. It's not that he wasn't successful. He produced the game-breaking moment against Victoria when he yorked David Hussey. He produced a similar delivery in his first over today to remove M Vijay. Unlike the other night, he was given the ball again.
"Normally just one over and off and so thrilled to get more than one over," Kreusch said with a laugh. "But this is obviously my type of wicket and so I knew I will get more than one over. Obviously thrilled that I could contribute and we are in semis."
He bowled cutters, took the pace off the ball, generally kept it full and strangled the batsmen. Chennai lost some wickets in the middle overs and decided to shut shop for a while. It was a brave move. It was risky as well. What if they fell short of a decent total? But what if they went after runs and lost more wickets and ended up with a below-par total? But what was a below-par total? It was that kind of a game. When do you go for the slog?
Dhoni felt it had to be delayed. That he was forced to delay it. "I think we just delayed the slog by two overs," Dhoni said. "We started it in the 17th over, which meant that we had just 18 balls to make as many runs as possible. At the same time you have to see the quality of the bowlers and they didn't give too many loose deliveries to us. So you don't really earn 30-35 runs in those 3 overs. And that was the thing that really happened in the middle.
"We got up to a decent start. I think there was a miscalculation in the middle and we lost 2-3 wickets together. I think if we would have lost just one wicket at that point of time then the batsmen who are set can take bit of a calculated risk. But when you lose 2-3 wickets all of a sudden then you have to delay the slog which really means that you are losing 10-15 runs crucial on this kind of a track. But we are happy to be on the winning side and qualify for the semis."
It was a sentiment that was shared by Warriors. "We would have probably gone a bit harder at the start if we had to chase 160," Jacobs said. "We didn't have to do it but the run out of [Craig] Thyssen set us back a bit - we stopped going after the win after that - but we are happy that we have made it."
The crowd too were happy. The giant screen flashed that Warriors had made to the next stage when they reached 109 and they started to sing, chant, drink and make merry. Warriors went on to lose but that just seemed a minor inconsequential detail tonight.
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo