Like last year, we lost the match with Bangalore when the side was going good and closer to semifinals. Of course, this time we didn't throw it away so much like we did last year. This was a good performance from Bangalore also - Kumble bowled very well and Taylor batted sensibly.
Contrary to popular expectation, there was no testing of bench strength today with our squad. Its also quite a good idea to seal the semifinal spot with the same winning combination, and then try the bench strength after this. So, it was not too bothering that today they didn't give a chance to Ntini, Bailey, Ashwin, Karthik etc. But, then they should have won this match having played with the same combination
Things that went well:
1. Hayden's blistering form: Again, Hayden gave a great start to the innings in a not so good pitch to bat on, as we found out later when the other batsmen were struggling to score.
2. Morkel's spell: It was a great spell giving two breakthroughs front up, while giving away only 12 runs in 4 overs.
3. Other crucial wickets: Tyagi, Murali, Balaji & Oram pitched in with crucial breakthroughs to get us very close to the victory.
Things that did not go well:
1. Batting order: Dhoni, Badrinath and Morkel all need sometime in middle before they can go against the bowlers. So, this puts us in a tight corner. One gets promoted and the other two don't perform very well coming late in the innings. And like today, if the one (today Dhoni) coming up the order also fails, then we are really in a mess with only Hayden's score to fall upon. Today, I expected Morkel to come at No.4 to get some form in this tournament. Both Dhoni & Badri have come up in previous matches and have found some form. So, today Morkel was expected to come up the order. But, later we came to know that Morkel had some stomach ailment, so he bowled out his four overs and left the field. So, maybe his stomach ailment prevented him from being tried at No.4 today. Hope he comes at No.4 in the next match.
2. Poor fielding: Though, today we didn't miss any easy catches, we missed a few extra runs. Of course, Hayden missed a catch due to misjudgement, but not like the dollies we used to drop before. But, some fielders like Balaji, Tyagi etc. were late in some dives thereby gifting boundaries when they should have been saved, especially while defending such a low target. This fielding performance was duly mentioned by Dhoni as well in the post-match presentation. After the first 3 quick wickets, if the fielding and bowling were a bit better, we could have created a very good chance to defend this low total. Somehow, there was no such aggression in the field which is required when you are defending such low targets. Maybe a bit complacent that there is some breathing space to get to the semifinals spot.
3. Raina's batting: Going out to the short ball again.
4. Vijay's role: Not exactly playing the role of taking singles immediately and giving strike to the marauding Hayden. He should play like that and not throw away his wicket until atleast the end of powerplays. We could have tried with Karthik, Ashwin or Bailey today for the opening slot.
Anyway, we need to correct most of these mistakes to get the better of Mumbai on saturday. Mumbai is also a very decent team, so we have to quickly correct these mistakes and get the two points to seal the semifinals spot. Then, it allows us to test our bench strength in the last two league matches before going to the semifinals. Wishing that it goes according to this script !!