Gambhir tries to defend the indefensible

KKR skipper missed a trick by batting too low down the order

 Well on course at 112 for two in hunt of Super Kings’ tally of 154, Knight Riders found novel ways to become the hunted as the hosts got out of a hole to snatch a sensational last-ball win and start their title defence in style. The slow nature of the pitch, where the ball was gripping, wasn’t conducive for stroke-making but Kolkata confounded the situation by needless run-outs, including that of skipper Gautam Gambhir.

“It was an error in judgment and I should have stayed till the end,” admitted Gambhir later. “It was disappointing that I got run out. But these things happen. We could have won this game if we had held our nerves. I hope we do not make such mistakes in the remainder of the tournament.”

Holding himself back in the batting order (he came in at number six after Eoin Morgan’s exit), Gambhir set off for a second run off a misfield but Scott Styris’ under-arm throw from short third-man caught the batsman well short of crease.

As much as it was suicidal, Gambhir’s decision to bat down the order was equally mystifying. Along with Jacques Kallis, he is the best batsman in the side and the southpaw should have walked in at the fall of the Protean instead of Morgan.      

“They had two off-spinners (R Ashwin and Suraj Randiv) operating and the ball was gripping a bit. So we thought that sending the right-handers was the best move to counter the situation,” was Gambhir’s explanation. Considering that Morgan too is a left-hander, Gambhir’s logic behind the move didn’t cut ice. “We always believed Jacques can anchor the innings and others can give him company. Well, we should have won the game… six balls and nine runs, we should have finished it off. But this is what T20 cricket is all about.”

 On the other hand, MS Dhoni’s touch in Super Kings’ come-from-behind win was unmistakable. Besides effecting three stumpings and a run out, his decision to bowl Tim Southee in the final over turned out to be the master stroke. There was nothing much to differentiate between Albie Morkel and the Kiwi, who had gone for 32 and 24 runs respectively in their first three overs but the CSK captain, after some deliberation, gave the ball to Southee. The right-arm quick made up for his early profligacy by denying KKR the required nine runs for victory with some well-directed yorkers.

Gambhir also admitted that CSK, who have maintained the core group of players of the last three seasons, had an edge over KKR which is almost a new team. “We tried our best,” he noted. “Playing with a core group is always an advantage and Chennai Super Kings had a slight edge in that. They know the conditions here better than most of us, so they had the advantage. But it’s just the start of the tournament and we should be right on track from the next game.”

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