Cricket Column: How urgh could be blessing, for KP, MS and the crowds

Sports Saturday 23/April/2016 17:27 PM
By: Times News Service
Cricket Column: How urgh could be blessing, for KP, MS and the crowds

Rising Pune Supergiants skipper MS Dhoni is, unlike Rudyard Kipling, no dealer in words, but if words are, of course or just sometimes, the most powerful drug used by mankind, Kevin Pietersen may now be feeling a little more “urgh” than he did while hobbling off the field in the game against the Royal Challengers Bangalore on Friday.
Pietersen had tweeted about his urgh sitting in a wheelchair in the dugout with his right calf in bandage before Dhoni’s 38-ball struggle ended in the cool hands of AB de Villiers at long-off in the 16th over and Pune’s hopes vanished as Thisara Perera perished in the 19th over, but the skipper’s post-match observation that KP’s injury could be a blessing in disguise leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
Dhoni may be right that KP’s injury offers him the opportunity to bring more all-rounders into the playing eleven, but his choice of words to describe the unfortunate situation was poor.
Dhoni spoke of his difficulty in taking a decision “to drop someone with the kind of players we have got”, but there could have been a better way to put injury into context or context into difficulty than letting the man in the wheelchair know that your pain was a thing of joy for others.
Pune started off with an impressive win against the Mumbai Indians, but their fortunes suffered three setbacks in a row, and the reason for the Pune un-rising is actually a lack of resources — not really the problem of plenty Dhoni is hinting at.
On paper, they have the batsmen to chase a target or post a total in excess of 200, but the reality we witnessed in the last three games was quite different. Steve Smith and Ajinkya Rahane are not the best in the T20 business, Dhoni is a shadow of his former, dominating self and the long tail of the Supergiants hangs limply right from the top order.
Rahane is a good player but an unlikely match-winner. He gives the team a reliable start, as in the case of the recent World T20 semifinal against the West Indies or the Friday’s game against the RCB, but often fails to convert the starts into match-winning accelerations.
His gritty 60 off 46 balls laid the foundation for the chase on Friday, but for a guy who has been in the thick of things right from ball one, his failure to get going in the late overs and his inability to get himself to face more balls is not exciting from a team or crowd point of view.
On Friday, Dhoni found himself at the crease earlier than he would normally like, and losing three wickets — Du Plessis, Pietersen and Smith — for what the skipper later described as “nothing” wasn’t the sort of setting that allowed him to go on the offensive.
Of course, Dhoni tried to be aggressive in the beginning, but like an ageing lion that lost its teeth and claws his attempted roars ended up as shrill cries. He sought to unsettle Shane Watson as early as the sixth over, which was a complete disaster, and when he was caught on the boundary off the penultimate ball of the 16th over there were just three boundaries in his account. Not even a single six for a man famed for hitting the biggest ones. Cricket is about taking risk and responsibility in the right mix—not about running madly all the time for singles and twos. We aren’t watching a cricket match to spot Usain Bolt.
With just one win in four matches, and placed seventh on the points table, Pune need to do better to ensure a berth for them in the playoff. They have 10 more matches left in the league, and that’s plenty of time to catch up with the table toppers. A win against the Kolkata Knight Riders, the leaders at the moment, tonight could get Pune rising into the mood.
When “urgh” transforms into sunshine, KP, MS and the crowds will savour the blessings.

(The writer is a freelance contributor based in India. All the views and opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of Times of Oman)