Generally, Rahul Dravid never loses his cool in public.
When he retired, his wife Vijeta wrote a touching piece on ESPNCricinfo, where she spoke about his ability to put things in perspective. But then she mentioned the one time – the only time – he lost his cool.
“Only once, I remember, he returned from a Test and said, "I got a bit angry today. I lost my temper. Shouldn't have done that." He wouldn't say more. Many months later, Viru [Sehwag] told me that he'd actually thrown a chair after a defeat to England in Mumbai. He'd thrown the chair, Viru said, not because the team had lost but because they had lost very badly,” Vijeta wrote.
But yesterday, as Aditya Tare slammed a knee-high full toss for six – he took his cap off his head and threw it to the ground. Was it disgust? Was it anger? We’ll never know but he wasn’t happy. The emotions just boiled over. There was no mystery to his reaction – Rajasthan had lost to Mumbai Indians, crashed out of the playoff race and played their most insipid cricket when it mattered most.
Moments later, Dravid apologised to those around him. But the anger was justified. You work so hard all season and then when you are almost home and dry, it gets away from you.
But maybe some of that anger was directed at himself. After all, he is part of the team management and in the last few matches they had experimented; they had experimented before they were through and that hit them hard. Most obvious were the changes they made in their last match against Mumbai Indians – three key players were dropped and no clear explanation was forthcoming.
Ajinkya Rahane was vital for RR all season, Pravin Tambe was picking up wickets and Steve Smith had already won a few matches with his belligerent batting down the order. But against Mumbai, they were all missing.
It later emerged that Rahane was injured but why leave out the other two? Rajasthan went on to lose that match and remained stuck in third place. The win also kept Mumbai's slim hopes of making the playoffs alive.
“We knew we needed about 16 points to qualify. It's not that we were trying to say, 'Oh we've already qualified.' We were not trying to be arrogant at that stage. Even today we made three changes in a must-win game. The last game we made three changes. We tried to play the situation. Ajinkya Rahane was injured in that [first loss to Mumbai]. If you noticed he didn’t field in the game before that. He was carrying an injury. We would have loved to have played him but that is the nature of the situation.”
But what about Tambe and Smith?
And then again, coming into the final innings of the group stages of IPL 7 – Mumbai Indians were set a victory target of 190. To qualify for the playoffs, they needed to score the runs in 14.3 (initially) but then it later emerged that they could have done it in 14.4, 14.5 or even 15.1 overs.
It was a tough ask. Some might even have said that it was impossible. To be fair, Corey Anderson was dispatching everything and anything into the stands. But Rajasthan’s bowlers seemed to suffer a meltdown when there was absolutely no reason to.
When Rohit Sharma was dismissed in the 10th over, Mumbai were 108 for 4, needing 82 off 31 balls. There was no need to be nervous. One good over could have probably done the trick. But instead – Mumbai plundered 16, 19, 18, 13, 11 in successive overs to win the match.
“In terms of emotion, we thought we won the game at one stage,” Dravid said after the loss. “Then we still had to bowl a ball and they hit the boundary so you can just imagine the emotions. There was sheer disappointment in their camp, joy in our camp and suddenly a ball later that’s completely reversed. So for sheer emotion and drama, I think this was probably one of the best games of cricket I’ve been involved in. It’s just disappointing that I happened to be on the wrong side of the result.”
Indeed, one can’t help but think that if RR had experimented a little less and stuck to their original plan a bit more – we would have seen a Rajasthan vs Chennai playoff. Mumbai were brilliant but that doesn’t take away from the fact that Rajasthan played poor cricket – both on the field and in the backroom.
Updated Date: May 27, 2014 10:27:41 IST