Chennai winning the IPL once again was no real surprise, but they will feel this win was sweeter because they not only overcame the odds but also beat the best all-round team and defending champions Gujarat in the finals. The spin of the coin can be crucial, especially in games where the dew factor kicks in, but it is even more so where there is a prospect of rain interrupting the play and reducing the overs, and the target gets adjusted accordingly. Gujarat may feel that the target should have been a few runs higher than what it was calculated under the internationally accepted system, and it would be interesting to know what the target would have been under the V. JAYADEVAN method, which is used in the domestic Syed Mushtaq Ali and Vijay Hazare competitions.
Be that as it may, the vastly experienced MS Dhoni opted to field first in anticipation of exactly the same situation where rain came in and the overs and the target got reduced. Gujarat were by far the best team in the competition, as could be seen by the ease with which they topped the table, with three points separating them from the number two team, which was Chennai. The two best teams qualified for the finals, and that’s why it was such an enthralling and thrilling one with a fairy tale-like, nail-biting last-ball finish.
Now the focus will shift to the World Test Championship finals, and again, the two best teams over the last couple of years will be vying for the trophy. Last time around, it should have been Australia in the finals, but they lost out on points because of a slow overrate and were displaced from the top-two position.
India and Australia only a couple months ago finished a Test series in which India won 2-1. In fact, India has beaten Australia in the last four series they have played against each other, two at home and two in Australia. What that tells you is how consistent the Indian team has been over the years and how thoroughly they deserve to be in the finals once again. Hopefully the weather will be fine in England so that there’s good cricket that can be seen by cricket lovers between two competitive teams whose rivalry has grown over the years to make it the most-awaited series in the game.
What’s been amusing is to read in the Indian papers former Australian players giving their views on what the composition of the Indian team should be. India loves its cricket, and so any news about the Indian cricket team will make headlines, but hopefully those who matter will realise that at the end of the day, the Aussies want their team to win, so it would be sensible not to get swayed by what they are suggesting. Remember how it was mainly the Aussie commentators going on about the 3D player that went a long way to him getting picked ahead of the experienced Ambati Rayudu. We haven’t read what their views are on what should be the Australian final eleven, nor have we read about any former Indian player suggesting the playing eleven for the Australians.
The World Test Championship final is a great idea to make every Test match relevant, but for it to really be called the World Test Final, the venue needs to be around the world and not just one country, which does not even figure in the final. There are many countries where the weather is good at this time of the year, and the final can be played there.
Let’s hope the final lives up to its expectations and gives us a finish, as we recently saw in the IPL.
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