Kolkata celebrate as Delhi say 'if only'.
After I had congratulated the Kolkata Knight Riders for being crowned 2012 champions of the Indian Premier League, my mind switched to ‘going-home mode’ as I had to go off and catch a flight pretty much straight after the broadcast. As one who is not too good at multitasking, it was only after I got to the airport and was checked in that I began to think about how the final as well as the tournament had gone.
Congratulations sure were in order as Kolkata had done well through the tournament and I was happy it was not like Groundhog Day with another victory for Chennai – especially as they had just scraped into the play-offs. Like a dog holding on to a bone, I just was not yet over the huge blunder that was made by the Delhi Daredevils in the knock-out match against Chennai Super Kings.
They went into the most important game of the tournament without Morne Morkel –who was the reason that they were in that match in the first place. There was a whole lot of trying to justify the decision by members of their squad but I reckon it would be like Barcelona not picking Lionel Messi for a final, or the Chicago Bulls not picking Michael Jordan, or the Jamaican 100m relay team without Usain Bolt.
While some may sit there and say that Morkel was not the main star in the team, I think the assessment needs to come from a point of view where there is the acknowledgement that the three international batsmen could have failed at any time and there would have been the chance that any of the other two would perform. If they did not, captain Sehwag might fire and they still get the runs they need. Without Morkel, the young bowling attack lost its leader and its edge.
The very fact that Morkel ended up winning the Purple Cap as the leading wicket-taker in the tournament, having played fewer games than those he competed against, is a good indicator of his importance to the team. He will count himself rather unlucky to have been dropped while at the top of his game and he cut a forlorn and dejected figure as he watched his team crash out of the tournament.
It is sometimes amazing how the view from inside the changeroom when it comes to selection and strategy is so different from what those who look from afar can see. Yes, it is much easier from the outside and hindsight is a perfect science; in this case though, it was only those in the camp (minus at least one) who saw it that way. While picking the Proteas speedster would not have guaranteed success, it sure would have improved Delhi’s chances of triumph.
As Kolkata Knight Riders celebrated lifting the IPL trophy, many a Delhi Daredevil (players and fans) will have been thinking, “IF ONLY”.