Delhi has now lost all of its games after the Dubai leg of the IPL and in stark contrast MI has won six of the eight matches played thereafter. This reveals a lot about developing a squad which suits the conditions at the home ground. MI has a fantastic mix of bowling resources which are perfectly mapped to their fortress in Mumbai.
Delhi were out-performed for the first part of the MI innings, wresting back momentum by scalping 8 wickets later, triggered by some measured bowling by DD and hara-kiri by MI batsmen. Delhi were on course of chasing a competitive total and at one point looked to make MI pay for their batting collapse when absurd shot selection by KP and Murli Vijay lead Delhi to toss away the incentive between overs five and ten.
This has been the storyline through and through for Delhi and KP seemed to suggest that it was another case of ‘so near yet so far’ but in essence he failed to bring forth the decay plaguing the squad. He mentioned that the environment in the squad was fun and if they perform better it is going to be difficult to stop them, albeit, next season.
He may be right in suggesting that theory with just one small problem: Never have we seen great players or teams appreciating a fun environment after losing so many games on a trot. Never have we seen a Dhoni or a Kohli or a DeVilliers having fun, when they cannot get their team over the line. Most of the great teams have a characteristic arrogance in their defeats (read Nederland in 2010 World Cup Final), most of the great players are devastated by a loss (Zidane in the Fifa finals against Italy), and most of the great leaders are offended and harsh on their squad if outperformed by oppositions (Louis Van Gaal’s pant-dropping drama at Bayern).
This is a problem with DD, sometimes you need someone to put the foot down and ask for explanations for these dismal performances, maybe having a fun environment all this time while on a losing streak is not a wise option. A team at the end of the day is judged by the performances and the points and the grit in its attitude. A fan would any day connect with a fighter in RR (even if they don’t make it to the playoffs) than a fun-loving Daredevil.
Not having a good bowling attack has failed Delhi in a series of games but on this occasion Delhi suffered because it could not glue together a wholesome performance as is expected in a team sport. KP’s mishit at a crucial juncture proved to be a vital breakthrough for MI. For some reason Delhi seems to be stuck in a different time period and needs to reinvent itself in order to deliver. The game, as deftly put in that nostalgic Sachin advertisement transforms every year and Delhi have been left behind by those who anticipated the challenge and prepared for it.
The squad that they have might have performed well two or three years back but in the times of a Miller, Maxwell, Pollard, Tambe, and Faulkner, expecting someone like DK or even a Jadhav to turn matches on their own is a bit of a stretch. Also, expecting MI discard Unadkat to show the grit of a Steyn or a Morkel is unrealistic. These youngsters will grow once they experience the work ethics of some good fast bowlers and acquire skills over a period of time. But this will definitely not happen if they try and learn from someone like Shami who is himself struggling to control the economy below nine in an over.
PS – Dear KP, if the environment is fun in the dressing room after such humiliating defeats then maybe the management along with you failed to inspire the team to play some competitive cricket, that’s all.