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‘It is not over till it is over.’ This adage is fast becoming the mantra for IPL teams this year. In yet another tight finish in the tournament the Mumbai Indians beatKings XI Punjabhere. The visitors avenged their defeat at the Wankhede Stadium thanks to Rohit Sharma’s valiant effort, Ambati Raydu’s calmness under pressure and Robin Peterson’s cameo.
Coming in to bat with the match leaning slightly in favour of the home team, the South African got off the mark with a reverse sweep against Piyush Chawla. He then followed it up with a switch-hit for four and a slog-sweep for six and gave the strike to Rayudu, who slammed two more sixes. The duo changed the complexion of the game by collecting 27-runs off the penultimate over and finishing the match in the last over with a ball to spare.
While speaking to iplt20.com, Peterson credited Rayudu for the win. Excerpts from his post-match conversation:
What were you thinking when you went in to bat?
From past experience, I have learnt not to think in the situation [like this]. Just try and watch the ball and try to hit it cleanly, and that’s what we did. Credit goes to Ambati [Rayudu] for the fantastic innings that he played. He helped me out there under pressure, so the credit’s got to go to him as well.
What was the feeling in the dressing room when Rohit Sharma got out?
We were pretty confident [of reaching the target]. We still had one batter [Rayudu] that was in [set at the crease]. Rayudu has been batting really well for us off late, so we were confident that he could see us over the line, and we were just happy [when he did]. You learn a lot from these games that you win under pressure. We are back against the wall, so hopefully, we can go from strength to strength [from here].
Do you think the last few overs turned out be too expensive when you were bowling?
Maybe. But I think we did well to limit them to under 180 runs. I thought it was a good wicket. They came out and they bowled well at us and put us under pressure. So yes, we could always improve in every aspect and that’s how we practice. So hope that the next time we improve.
Any particular reason why you or James Franklin didn’t bowl again after bowling one good over each?
I am not sure. I was about to bowl when Bhajji [Harbhajan Singh] brought Franklin on. If you look back on the move, [it worked]. Franklin took an important wicket [that of Shaun Marsh]. [...] I just try and do my job.
There was no particular reason [that we did not bowl later]. We have to back our bowlers. They have been doing the job for us in the tournament. Today was the first game [so far] when they actually took bit of a stick at the end. Other than that they have bowled beautifully in this tournament. KXIP had beaten you at Wankhede and you beat them here. Was this payback?
Yeah. [But] you don’t like to think about it like that. We just have to be happy that we got off the mark [today]. It has been a tough two weeks for and us [...].
How does it feel to be part of the MI dressing room?
It’s intimidating being in the dressing room with Sachin [Tendulkar], Harbhajan and all the international players and even some of the Indian players. So yes, it is been intimidating, but they have made me feel right at home. And Mumbai Indians are like a big family and that is great for us.
Your thoughts on Sachin Tendulkar.
It is a great birthday present for him. He can be our lucky charm, and hopefully, play all the games, so we are on. [...] We had a good time for Sachin’s birthday and happy birthday to him. He has been a great ambassador for India for so many years.
You are playing the table-toppers Delhi Daredevils next. Your thoughts on them.
They are a fantastic team, the Delhi Daredevils [and] it is always a challenge. The IPL is a very close tournament [where] anyone could beat anyone. [Right now] it just seems, anyone playing away from home is winning. So hopefully, playing away from home we can take the points from Delhi [Daredevils].
How do you find the IPL experience?
I had played the World Cup here in India last year, so I love India. It is a magnificent place to play cricket; and the energy, the people, the fans. It’s the best place to play cricket in the world. I can’t get enough of coming to India, so I’m pretty excited to be here and happy to experience it.
Some of cricket’s best stories come from the umpires. As someone who is smack in the middle of all the action, an umpire is arguably the person most involved in the game. And when the man in question is a raconteur like Asad Rauf, the stories are not just intense but also colourful and entertaining. From the effects of IPL on international cricket to amusing on-field anecdotes, Asad Rauf takes iplt20.com on a delightful journey through his world.
‘T20 is slow’
People don’t understand this but T20 is in fact slow for the umpires. In this format very few decisions come to the on-field umpires and the ones that do come to us are usually straightforward. The bowlers generally bowl a bit wide of the off-stump which is relaxing for the umpires.
The IPL experience
Coming to India is different [from visiting other countries]. I believe the people of India have very good knowledge about cricket and hence they appreciate the role of the umpires more. The kind of atmosphere that we see during the IPL isn’t seen anywhere else. Close to 40,000 people shouting in the stands, cheering for their team – I think no one experiences that better than the on-field umpires who are right in the middle of all the action. Adversaries turned friends
When you play for one team you develop a fellow-feeling for each other. I really like what the IPL has done in this aspect – players from different countries playing for each other and bonding well.
The kind of shots that batsmen play these days, we’re seriously thinking of demanding protective gear for the umpires. Very few people think about this but even the umpires have to work hard to maintain a standard of fitness. If the players have to play for six hours, we too have to stand for the same time on the field. In modern times we have to work a bit harder on that aspect. Leader extraordinaire
Being on the field, I can sense how much pressure the captain is under. The most important thing for a captain is to be cool. I think [MS] Dhoni is best in that regard. I also like [Virender] Sehwag’s captaincy. Both these men are very cool which helps them make better decisions. One of the secrets behind CSK’s success over the past seasons is Dhoni’s coolness and in this tournament I’ve seen the same with Sehwag.
Billy does a helicopter
Everyone has his own style; I too have my own style of signalling a six. But Billy Bowden has this peculiar style which cannot be matched by anyone. He goes a little over the top. When he’s in form, he does all kinds of crazy things.
Once after an IPL game that he officiated, he came up to me and asked, ‘Asad, did you see the helicopter on the ground’? When I said no, he told me to watch the highlights of the match. I watched it and there was a no-ball signalled by him that went for a four. He signalled it and then went round in circles in the way that the [propeller] of a helicopter turns. I laughed like crazy and told him that it was a bit too much.
Working in pairs
I share a good rapport with Aleem Dar. One reason for that could be that both of us hail from Lahore and have played for the same club. We also made our umpiring debut in ODIs together. We share a great understanding. We also help each other a lot while on the field. Even generally, I try to maintain a good rapport with my fellow on-field umpire in terms of interacting with him and helping him. Umpiring is team work. In case of wrong decisions, people will say the umpiring was bad; they won’t name a particular umpire.
Friend, philosopher and guide
I really respect Steve Bucknor. He once told me ‘Asad, I have a feeling that you will be included in the ICC’s Elite Panel very soon’. Six months later, I was part of the panel. He is my mentor and my coach. I have learnt so much from him since I started my career.
Thankless job? Not anymore
Earlier an umpire’s role was taken for granted but now that has changed. Cricket coverage has improved so much and with the awareness spread by the media about the sport, everyone has realised the toughness of the on-field umpires’ job. People acknowledge that sometimes they cannot make the right decision even after watching the replay six times. An umpire makes the same decision in a fraction of a second.
Tale of the missing umpire
During a Test of India’s tour in West Indies in 2006, Irfan Pathan appealed for the run-out of Brian Lara. The players turned to square-leg umpire Billy Doctrove but he was not found there. The players then turned to the cover-point region but still couldn’t spot the umpire. That was a hilarious situation and everyone laughed their guts off. Finally, Doctrove was spotted near the sight-screen fixing a problem that Lara had complained of. He didn’t think it was necessary to inform anyone, not even me. That was an incident I will not forget.
The good that came out of the funny situation was that a cricketing law came to the fore. The players insisted that I refer the decision to the third umpire; I refused saying, ‘According to the law, I’m not in a position to do that’. Just then I recalled a law that says that if an umpire is not at his position when the ball is bowled, it is not a legal delivery, and I signalled a dead ball. Thankfully, Lara had made his ground. Had he been run-out, there would have been a lot of furore over it. The biggest ‘Tests’
The most challenging game for me was the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne in 2006 between Australia and South Africa – the top two teams. It was only my third Test as an umpire. I was sent for this Test by the ICC when no one really knew me. That was the most memorable day of my umpiring career and it was the match with which my career took off. Before that I had officiated in two Tests between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. My appointment was in India for the next match but they cancelled it and sent me to Australia. I got my confidence from that match. Steve Bucknor helped me a lot in that Test.
Then there was the 2000th Test, between India and England at Lord’s in 2011. I wasn’t supposed to officiate that Test but was called up to fill in for Mark Benson who was sick. It was also the 100th Test between the two countries. It was a memorable match for me. It was an honour that the ICC called me up. My decisions were good in that match.