Mumbai Indians v Redbacks
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I don't know where to start. I am zombified. This was one of the most nervewrecking T20s I have ever seen in my whole life. Been wandering restlessly since last night already. Obviously this match would be the most crucial one for the Spider Boys, a huge mountain to climb, and at the toss we heard that Ryan McLaren had been replaced by Dwayne Bravo... Ultra fat batting power! Speaking of toss, Sachin Tendulkar won it and, who'd have thunk it, batted first... misery looming at the horizon!
|No monster score for Statchin today.|
Early wickets, early wickets was my mantra. Shaun Tait could have got the first one in the first over, but got dropped, but Gary Putland made heaps of amends for his medium rare performance in the first match and struck in the second over. Unfortunately it wasn't Statchin. Not much happening thereafter, but when Dan frickn Christian came on first change Tendulkar tore him to bloody shreds, literally... 14 off the over, DC really took a caning here.
Radical bowling change from the other end as Aaron O'Brien came on to bowl some spin, and he took Statchin on the horns! No mammoth score for the grande dame of the willow! Two overs later he claimed the scalp of JP Duminy, another big hitter gone. But those were only two out of about 300 in the Mumbai lineup. Cullen Bailey spun leg from the other end and it looked like a good plan, until Saurabh Tiwary lost his patience and started to hit out, clubbed both Bailey and O'Brien ruthlessly, lost his partner but continued with Kieron bloody Pollard!
The 16th over was the worst, Aaron O'Brien's nice figures got messed up badly when he got taken for 25 by the rabid Saurabh. Absolutely insane. Klinger sent Tait back on and he removed Tiwary with his first ball. Dwayne Bravo in, for the Caribbean connection. Boundaries and maximums en masse, off all three; Putland, Tait and Christian. Two wickets in the last over but the score had already rocketed through the ceiling. Had JP Duminy still said in the 15th over that 150 would be par and anything above that a nice bonus, the Redbacks had conceded 180 bloody runs in the end.
At that stage I had zero, and I mean zero, hope that the Saussies would get past 150 at any point. The chase started off quietly... which is euphemistic for wobbly, chokely, snailishly. Both openers captain Michael Klinger and Daniel Harris looked absolutely clueless against Zaheer Khan and Lasith Malinga and missed more balls than they managed to hit. Mumbai's fielding was absolutely disgusting though, and it enabled the openers to somehow put their tents up at the crease and get to 100+ with no loss, especially feasting on the West Indian tandem of Pollard and Bravo.
|Slow and steady wins the race!|
I have not counted how many catches the Indians dropped, but those were vital, absolutely necessary contributions to the South Australian quest. Statchin led from the front with the first dropped dolly, and his team mates tried to imitate him enthusiastically. Alright I have counted them: four drops and a missed run-out. You can't help thinking of Pakistan here, and from there it is only a cat's leap to the bad m-f word. Which I will of course not pronounce here. But you have to admit that MI would have beaten the shit out of the Redbacks had it not been for the atrocious fielding.
But thanks to the help from the Indians Klinger and Harris marched into the 14th over undisturbed and had built a nice foundation of 112, before they fell in rapid succession. Graham Manou tried to continue but was out after two big hits. Again my heart descended into my pants and I lost any ability to move, speak or breathe. Frozen gawking eyes were staring at the screen. The only hope I still had was nourished by Callum Ferguson, but he got chopped soon after his entrance. But! Dan frickn Christian and Cameron Borgas at the crease! They seamlessly continued the work of their predecessors, don't slow down, don't stop was the motto, and they managed to keep the Redbacks worm on top of the Mumbai one.
|New ball needed after Harris answers Pollard's question|
Big hitting would be needed continuously as the asking rate was meandering around 12 all the time. Christian hammered Bravo, went out to Zaheer, but Borgas could simply not afford any feelings of intimidation and kept clubbing the Indian quickie, permanently working on getting the asking rate further down. At the opposite end of the crease the trumpets and fanfares had sounded: Enter Tom Cooper! He had struck a fearless final six in the first match and today it was again him to join the party at the death and to throw the sink at everything that couldn't run and hide in time, this time he clubbed a brutal 19 off just 5 balls, and whacked Harbhajan Singh in the last over so hard that the Redbacks finished with three balls to spare!
Bloody... frickn hell!!!!!! Other teams would have folded after the departure of the first 3 or 4 batsmen... but the Redbacks only started to put the pedal to the metal then! Can't deny that I was quite surprised by this enormous lower order hitting potential, but I am unbelievably glad to have witnessed it.
|Nana Mouskouri learns that money can't buy attitude|
Phewwww this match serves as a very good reply to all those who need the seemingly safe bandwagon of the star-studded favourites under their butts and spit bile and venom when it derails. The Redbacks have played fantastic, labour-intense underdog cricket so far and although a lot could have gone wrong during this match you will have to admit that in retrospective they have rightfully earned their status as the dark horses of their group.
I think this effort has to get rewarded with an extra special treat: watch Tom Cooper cuddle some lion cubs.. or lion cubs cuddle Tom Cooper! :D
Aaaaand... Daniel Harris sitting in the interview armchair and speaking about the victory that gets labeled by some as the best match of the tournament so far:
Dead but happy,