One of the few pleasures of being a Chennai Super Kings fan is the sitting around during breaks, trying to come up with new names for the colour of their costume ("uniform" doesn't sit well with the whole shindig, and "gear"? Gaaah, I'll pass).
From digusting poetry ("like the buttery sunshine that breaks through dense foliage on a pleasant summer afternoon") to disgustingly medical ("purulent exudate from an abscess"), it's been rather fun. I used to settle for the all-occasions "Men In Startlingly Bright Yellow", but it these days it often vacillates between "Eye-stabbing" to just plain "jaundiced".
Was there any other point to supporting the team?
... Oh, oh right. The cricket.
I honestly believe if these jaundiced men had gotten their asses into gear at the right moments, our w/l tally would be 5-1.
See, the game against-
... okay, let me try that again. The GAME AGAINST P-
Oh, lord. Fine. THAT game. The game I'm trying my hardest to forget, the game that actually haunted my dreams the night I saw it played. We were - we -
Geez. But really: that exposed something vital in the inner circuitry of the team. And it has been malfunctioning ever since. Contrary to popular opinion, I believe Raina did the best he could. It's just that something vital's just missing. Against Punjab (yes, I said it - I think I may be moving on. No padded rooms for me, nossir), where our middle order was cracked open like a rotten egg, we found a man unable to handle the pressure that he is meant to handle: Albie Morkel. If Ashwin was determined to be monumentally idiotic in the last over, I would endeavour to say Morkel was even more so, in giving Ashwin the chance to be monumentally idiotic!
That's where, friends, we need Dhoni.
Dhoni isn't revered because he's got prodigious talent with the bat/gloves (he doesn't), or that he's the greatest tactician out there (he isn't), or because he's got some supernatural Jedi-like ability to calmly smile in the face of an approaching tsunami (he'd be sensible and run like hell). It lies primarily in his ability to go out there, see the situation for what it is, and stop it from going sideways (most of the time). He's built most of his success as captain/batsman in making sure his team doesn't fall into the hole it resolutely persists in digging, and that's exactly what we needed there, exactly what Raina provided in our win against Delhi (seems so long ago). Except he got run-out for a needless run (all run-outs are for "needless runs", if you'll notice) against Punjab, and neither Parthiv nor Albie had it in them to take up the responsibility.
This, needless to say, is worrying.
It was like watching your favourite cousin fail in the finals after topping the class the whole year. :(
So, anyway: major dent to the psyche? Check.
Next game: Bangalore.
Look, nobody was really expecting CSK to win this one, and being the gracious team that they are, they obliged.
CSK, here's a clue: if you're gonna lose, do it humiliatingly. 100 runs, ten wickets, I don't care. That's it. Make me not care.
Don't lose... like this! (because "going down fighting" is a load of bull-crap that doesn't change anything except make you depressed and anxious; "going down with a thump" is something you can laugh off and forget)
Raina was awesome on the field as captain. Like I said, responsibility does him good! I really liked his body-language, and liked even better that that language expressed in great stops and stunning catches.
Unfortunately, the Tamilians in the squad had been hit by an Evil Supernatural Jinx greasopalmus. It's a terrible blight. I present my case:
First, Balaji dropping Kallis off Morkel. "Lost the ball in the background"? Hm.
Second, Ashwin dropping Uthappa while nearly colliding into Tyagi. What are you playing, people? An under-15 friendly?????
Third, Vijay dropping Uthappa at long-on, with no excuse. It's the kind of catch he would catch blindfolded, one arm amputated and the other with just three fingers on. And he dropped it, with all his faculties in full function. Dropped it!
And 35 runs were scored in the next two overs! (And Raina, I thought, made a serious tactical error in saving up Balaji and Ashwin for the death. Either one of them in the end is risky enough. But both? Nuh-uh.)
And "Robbie" Uthappa won the MoM! And he has the NERVE to say that he "wanted to stay till the very end"! What he should've said is, "I'd like to dedicate this award to my South Zone teammates from TN, who were kind enough to recognise that my career as an international player is close to non-existent, and help me out in that regard, as they are generally wont to do, given their modest, reserved and helpful natures. Guys, I can't thank you enough. Three jigarthandas on me next time we play in Chennai."
"GAH" is sometimes all you can say.
So: 172? No big deal, right? Easy.
Except Parthiv gets out early and Raina makes Serious Tactical Error No. 2: George Bailey.
No. 3, yo. Raina, it's YOUR position, and nobody else's. Particularly if that nobody's name starts with "George" and ends with "Bailey."
Mr. Bailey ate up a lot of balls and regurgitated nothing, until I was practically begging at the TV, "George, just get out." He obliged, but only after getting Hayden run-out. And I had practically blown my last remaining fuse by then.
It was too much, too late for the rest, and we folded predictably. And guess how many runs we lost by?
I bet Vijay's hands were burning at that point.
Speaking of bets, next match: Mumbai. Again, not one a lot of people were expecting us to win, but hey, Dhoni's back! And that raises the awesomeness by a few hundred degrees.
Buoyed by all the awesomeness and annoyed beyond measure that a lot of my classmates seemed to supporting Mumbai ("Sachin's there" is NOT an excuse. Arre, does nobody get territorial about sporting teams anymore??), I proclaimed, rather bravely, that CSK was bound to win.
And we started off well, we did.
A) No George Bailey. All rounder replacing all-rounder, i.e., Perera (who I was frightened to find out is only a year older than me) replacing Kemp. Great.
B) Dhoni's playing.
C) That point deserves repeating. DHONI. IN THE TEAM.
D) Ashwin out, Jakati in.
E) Raina walking in at No. 3.
We batted well, Raina and Badri were so awesome, but they were never really able to... just. push. the. gear. up. one. more. notch. It was a bloody shame that we were able to scrounge up only 7 overs off the last over with two batsmen who'd been out there for 15 overs at the crease, but Malinga bowled genuinely well.
So. Bowling and fielding. The single most undisciplined effort I've seen from CSK all tournament. It was painful to watch: the sheer no of wides, no-balls, sloppy stops that gave the batsmen opportunities to sneak in extra runs - was this the same team that was so delightfully sharp on the field just a couple of games ago? We really need to pull ourselves together, and fast.
Still, a few timely wickets, and the match was sweetly balanced at the end of 16 overs.
Then Perera came on to bowl, and Dhoni said ten agonising minutes later, "Hm. That might have been a mistake."
Five full-tosses. "Juicy" as they say. All of them hit for four. Twenty-one runs off the over. It was like some sort of mini Groundhog Day: Perera would run in, bowl a full toss, Sachin/Pollard would flick it off, and poof! boundary, Perera would grimace and groan, and Dhoni would get this look that says, "well, it seemed like a good idea at the time...." and then Perera would run in to bowl again, and -
You get the general idea.
Game, set and match after that.
CSK need to do some collective soul-searching. I firmly believe that this is a team with vastly underestimated players - so underestimated, in fact, the players do it themselves. They've got to figure out their roles, and need to forget 21/3/2010. It never existed.
Also, we've got the absolute worst reserve bench in the whole of the IPL. Thishara Perera? Look, I know the guy was good in India last year for Sri Lanka, but he's young, inexperienced. I thought we had Thilan Thushara in the ranks? And you know who would've been perfect? Nuwan Kulasekara. I cannot believe that he wasn't snapped up by any IPL franchise (I think).
Local players? Hi, where are the bowlers? Playing for other teams! It's actually kind of pathetic. We've got a weak pool to choose from, it's sad.
Still, we're an awesome outfit. I love this team way too much to be cussing it for prolonged periods, and I think we're in for a turnaround. Lessee.
(And it's in these kind of moments that I really, really miss Amy. :( )
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