It rarely happens in T20 cricket that a batsman scores a brilliant hundred and yet ends up on the losing side. Lions’ Quinton de Kock experienced this feeling during the match against Otago at Jaipur. The opener played a brilliant knock to singlehandedly lift the Lions’ innings, which lacked momentum, to a challenging target. However, the T20 format showed how cruel it can be to players even though they perform exceedingly well. de Kock kept wickets proficiently, but his one fumble towards the end allowed Otago to take the game into the super over.
It was in the super over that de Kock actually crumbled under pressure. Unlike in Tests and, to an extent, one-dayers, T20s are not won just by domination for a major portion of the game, but by being street smart in crunch situations. Chasing the target in the super over, the Lions needed to get two off the last ball, but they got only won and tied the super over as well, allowing Otago to win on the basis of hitting more fours. Since both the main innings and super overs scores were the same for the two teams, it can be said that neither side deserved to lose. But T20 can be quite a harsh format, and Lions discovered the same on a maddening Sunday.
That Lions could not get over the line could still be understandable, but the fact that de Kock did not allow them a chance at the end is what must have disappointed the Lions’ dugout. Off the fifth ball, he didn’t run hard enough to capitalise on a misfield. With two needed off the last ball, both batsmen were expected to run irrespective of where the ball was headed for. de Kock set off for the second run, but did not complete it. One shouldn’t be too harsh on the batsman since it was he who put Lions in a position from where they could push for a win. But, he should at least have tried for the second run. Who knows, the fielder might have fumbled. Since de Kock did not even attempt for the winning run, we might never know what would have happened.
To be fair to de Kock he was nowhere near as responsible for their ‘defeat’ as some of the others in the side, who made no contribution at all. All their batsmen barring de Kock were poor with the bat, and made no kind of impact during their innings. Had it not been for the opener who came up with the magnificent century, the Lions’ innings would have gone nowhere. Then, with the ball, they had Otago under the pump. Going to the last few overs, the Lions were definitely on top. However, they failed to put the finish touches on the game, and allowed Otago to claw back.
While Lions were poor with the ball in the last few innings, James Neesham’s innings was equally superb. He kept his cool amazingly well under pressure, and found the boundaries at will to aid Otago claw right back into the match. Neesham’s innings had a severe impact on Lions’ psyche when they went into in the super over. That is possibly why they couldn’t get over the line in spite of being on par with Otago for most part.
--By A Cricket Analyst