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When Dwayne Smith was scoring runs at will, one almost got the feeling that a target of 193 set by Chennai Super Kings would be chased down in less than twenty overs. The ball was dispatched to all parts of the ground, some sixes were towering, some flat on the boundary ropes while some of them was left for the crowd to do the catching.
For a moment even CSK captain MS Dhoni would have had second thoughts about the daunting target when Smith was treating every CSK bowler with disdain.
Smith was scoring at a strike-rate of over two hundred and when he was out caught by Suresh Raina off Ravindra Jadeja’s bowling in the ninth over, Smith had already scored 68 off 28 balls with five sixes and six fours. Mumbai Indians were in a position of control even after Smith’s departure purely because of the start given by the West Indian opener. To MI’s dismay the team could not capitalize on Smith’s blitzkrieg as they fell short of the target by 49 runs. Smith was gutted with the team’s loss as he quietly sat in a corner after watching his team go down.
“It is unfortunate to end up on the losing side. I love to win,” said Smith after the match in a quick chat with IPLT20.com.
Saddening it was to be as Smith was going great guns having blasted Chris Morrisand R Ashwin for sixes until CSK decided to take the strategic time-out before the seventh over of the match. Smith was dismissed an over after the time-out and from then on it was CSK all the way.
When asked if the time-out broke the momentum of his knock, Smith said “I do not think that the time-out broke the momentum of the game. At some point of time it always had to happen and I was ready to regroup my innings after the short break. If I had been there for a little more time, we could have probably gone on to win the game.”
Chasing 193 was never meant to be easy and Smith’s message from the dressing room before the run chase was clear. “For me it was just to make sure we got some quick runs on the board and as many as possible so that we could have ourselves in a good position. We were going on well and always felt we were in the game. The wicket got better in the second innings. There was more even bounce and it was lovely to bat on which made us confident of achieving the target,” said Smith.
Smith also felt there were several turning points to the game. “I think myself getting out and the two quick wickets of Dinesh Karthik and Rohit Sharma to fall later were the turning points of the game. “There was a ray of hope when Kieron Pollard was going well, but wickets falling at regular intervals did not help our cause,” he added. With one more shot for the spot, Smith said the side will be more eager to perform in their next game.
“We still have another chance. We have to regroup and comeback strong in the next game to get a chance to play in the final. We are still in the competition and our confidence will not drop,” said the opener.
The left-arm spinner who has began the 2012-13 season with record breaking knocks in the domestic circuit has been in the news for his bowling on the international circuit since making his Test debut late last year.
His artistry with the ball has continued into the shortest format of the game. In the crucial game at the Feroz Shah Kotla, the 24-year old finished with 4-0-31-3 which included the key wickets of Dwayne Smith, Dinesh Karthikand Kieron Pollard to help his team book a place in the final.
Although they had been set a 193-run formidable target, Rohit Sharma’s MI were coasting towards the target with Dwayne Smith leading the chase. And with MI on 86 for one after eight overs, ahead of CSK who were 55/1 at the stage, Jadeja struck in his first over to claim Dwayne Smith and followed it up with the wicket of MI’s man in form, Dinesh Karthik.
The left-arm spinner then finished his quota of overs with the all important wicket of Kieron Pollard to put his team in the driver’s seat.
While speaking to IPLT20.com later, Jadeja spoke about the plan to send back both the West Indians who were capable of snatching the game away from CSK.
Excerpts from the interview:
Given the way MI was cruising towards the target what was your plan when handed the ball?
I was thinking that taking a wicket at that point in the match was very crucial. The way they had begun and were well place placed in the first ten overs, they were going very well. Getting a couple of wickets at that time was very crucial and that is what we did. Luckily we got Dwayne Smith (in the ninth over) and then Dinesh Karthik. It was a very crucial time for us and we took two wickets and from there on put pressure on them.
How did you plan the wickets?
The plan was to bowl in good areas and not give boundaries because the format is such that if the batsmen don’t get boundaries then obviously there are chances of getting wickets. So that is what we were trying for; to get a breakthrough and then put pressure on them because they were in a very good position. In the first ten overs they were on 92 for two. We made a good comeback from there and in the last five overs all the bowlers bowled well.
How important was Kieron Pollard’s wicket?
Very! It was very important because in this format he has been very successful and can hit a six easily when required. And after he got out it seemed like the Mumbai Indians were all out. So that situation had come about. It is important to claim their two-three key players and that is what we did on Tuesday.
You get wickets at crucial junctures in a match. What is the key to your success?
Depending on the situation and speaking to Mahi bhai (MS Dhoni) I try to bowl. He tells me what can happen and how the wicket is assisting. And that is the advantage that we try to take. After ten overs the ball was not coming on to the bat. So we were trying to bowl slow deliveries and in the right areas so that they don’t get boundaries.
Which was your favourite wicket today?
Obviously Pollard’s wicket! If he had stayed at the crease longer than maybe we would even have lost the game. Thankfully we got his wicket at the right time when we needed it.
Michael Hussey’s contribution has been vital to the team’s success. Your thoughts
He has given us very good starts when opening, with stands of 50 plus. In the middle overs too he rotates the strike and it is a very good thing that we have got an opener like him. It is good that he has contributed so well throughout the season and we hope in the final too he plays a good long innings and helps the team win.
There were a lot of CSK supporters at the stadium waving yellow flags, giving a you the feeling of home a crowd. Your thoughts
We have been champions and have been doing well for so many years and we have a lot of fan support. We will try and win it for our fans. That is the only gift we can give to them. They come into the stadiums and support us in all sorts of weather so we hope that we can give them that gift.
What was your planning for Pollard?
He is strong on the on-side, leg-side. The plan was to bowl to him outside off and make him stretch for his big shots. I was trying to keep the ball outside his reach and also was bowling slow to that he struggles with his timing.
And what was the plan for Smith who was well settled at the crease?
The same was for Smith because in that innings the sixes that he hit were over mid-wicket and mid-on. So our effort was to bowl to both of them outside the off-stump because he doesn’t play much over covers or the cut shot. The idea was to bowl to him in that area and give him one run and get the other batter on strike.
How are you feeling not getting much of an opportunity with the bat yet?
I am waiting that whenever I get the opportunity I should be able to make a good contribution to the team. But actually if I don’t get to bat, it means top three-four batsmen are doing well and it helps the team win. I am ready to bat whenever the opportunity presents itself I will try to help the team to get into a good position and win. If I get batting in the final I will focus and try to play my game.