Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Final

Mumbai Indians 148/9 (20/20 ov); Chennai Super Kings 125/9 (20/20 ov)
Mumbai Indians won by 23 runs

It was the final of a tournament that had spanned almost two months and included 75 matches prior to this one. In India, every day, almost every newspaper and electronic news channel had earmarked more space and time to this event of no consequence than to any other matter of national or international importance. So to win the final must be a matter of great pride and the competing teams will display fantastic competitive cricket, one would have thought. Was it so?

Before coming to this match, let us see what happened in the final last year, and what happened in the match these two teams played a few days ago. In the finals last year, CSK had scored 191 runs batting first, and in the match against MI they had scored 192 runs. The team batting second, KKR, had successfully chased 191 runs in the last final. Therefore, what would you have expected as a punter when CSK came to bat to chase a very moderate 148 against above background and their top batsmen having fired of late in this tournament?

And was MI losing 3 top wickets including their captain in the 4th over for 16 natural cricket? Could be, couldn't be? One has to use one's better judgement. See the balls bowled and shots played. Were the shots played by them to get out characteristic of them considering their recent form. Didn't it appear as if Rohit Sharma was trying to give catching practice to the bowler. And then in the 3rd over, Dinesh Karthik was plumb LBW and not given. Some said height saved him, some said probably inside edge saved him. But clearly it was the umpire who saved him.

With MI 16/3, odds of 1.41 in f/o CSK appeared a bit high, indicating that recovery by MI was due at some point of time in the match and it so happened. A well set Pollard played a number of dot balls or singles, and got less strike towards the end before hitting 2 sixes off last 2 balls.

Once CSK batting started, punters backing CSK got no chance to cover themselves. CSK lost 3 wickets in no time, and were 58/8 in 11.3 overs. Dhoni who often promotes himself in critical situations as this and does well, forgot to do so in the all important final. He rather demoted himself and did well down the order scoring 63 of 45 balls. But he was wise and careful to regulate pace of scoring such that at no stage CSK came into contention and his innings was of no consequence, either for the match or for the odds. 

The failed captain won and the losing captain performed well once again.

And how did session scoring, the key indicator to fixing, progressed in this prestigious final played at the height of the ongoing fixing scandal? In the first session, the scoring pattern was such that the end score remained less tha or equal to the score offered at any point during the session except for 3-4 balls in the last over, i.e. 50 x's and at most 4 y's, Something quite improbable for natural cricket, as we have seen.

And the scoring pattern in next session of 10-20 overs of Mumbai's innings was even more improbable for natural cricket with 54 y's and 0 x's taking standard average of 8.75 runs per over for last 10 overs for bookies' offers. That means scoring in this session so progressed that the end score was more than the offered score at any point during the session.

I repeat, that is the dark reality of a prestigious final played when Indian media was shouting itself hoarse about the ongoing fixing scandal. 


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