Veda Krishnamurthy Justifies Speed's Shut-shop-Approach > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more
Cricket news - Veda Krishnamurthy justifies Velocity's shut shop approach
Not often do you find both the winning and losing team be content with the result. Almost never do you find such examples in competitive sport. Which made the 2019 Women's T20 Challenge encounter between Velocity and Supernovas on Thursday in Jaipur an aberration.
With the destructive Danielle Wyatt dismissed and Supernovas' legspinner Poonam Yadav in the middle of a fierce spell, Velocity thought best to play for the spot in the final. They were chasing a target of 143 on a slow wicket, and crossing the 117-run mark alone would have taken them through even if they eventually lost the game. From there on, a win would have knocked out point-less Harmanpreet Kaur-led Supernovas and a defeat would have cost Smriti Mandhana-led Trailblazers dearly.
Raj and Veda Krishnamurthy, who were in the middle when the equation read 66 required off 51 deliveries at the time of Wyatt's dismissal, moved to Plan B. Safety first - securing their final berth first - and victory, secondary. The senior India pair were happy to rotate the strike, knocked off the remaining runs to 117 one or two at a time, and called the chase practically off. They reached the qualification target off the fourth delivery in the penultimate over, and were left with 25 to get off final eight deliveries for also picking up the two points from the contest. They chose not to.
However, this begs a question. Why did the two set batsmen not go for the kill after their place in the final was secured? 25 off eight is a little ambitious, even by IPL standards, but certainly not impossible with two well-settled batters in the middle.
The answer lies in what actually transpired the previous day.
Cut to Wednesday, Velocity's superstitious belief in the jinxing powers of Nelson perhaps amplified manifold in the closing minutes of their first game of the tournament, against Trailblazers. Having restricted the opposition to a sub-par 112/6, and bossing the chase for 16.4 overs, Velocity were cruising to what could have been a massive thumping. Comedy of errors followed next and, with two required to pick up the win, Raj's team lost five wickets for zilch inside seven balls, beginning with the dismissal of well-set Wyatt and destructive Veda off the remaining deliveries of 17th over.
With a ball's gap in each of the dismissals, Deepti Sharma knocked off the stumps off three batters in five balls in a nail-biter of an over that followed. The trio were Raj, world's most capped women's player, Shikha Pandey, a certified all-rounder, and Amelia Kerr, the current holder of highest individual WODI score of 232 not out. The uncapped Sushree Pradhan emerged as Velocity's saviour by knocking off the two nervy runs, as if to underscore the chief objective of this tournament. The narrow victory by three wickets meant the NRR dogfight had already begun, and the fate of Trailblzers, who were done with both their league games for the season, hung on the outcome of Velocity vs Supernovas fixture.
"Initially, we thought that if the openers give us a good start, we'll definitely play to win," Raj said after her team's 12-run loss to the Supernovas. "But considering we lost two early wickets, chasing 143 on this wicket you needed batters in and we didn't have that much of batting depth. Our batting depends mostly on the top-order. So it was important that one of us stayed. Dani played very well and I thought if she could have continued till the end, maybe we could have scored those 12 runs we lost [by]. But nevertheless it was important that me and Veda could gather as much runs as possible and take it till the end. We knew 117 [is what] we needed to qualify, before we got into bat. So everybody was aware about the plan," the 36-year-old, who finished unbeaten on 40, added.
Veda, who made an unbeaten 29-ball 30, echoed her captain's sentiments and stood up for her team's cautious approach. "In the previous game, we made a lapse by losing heap of wickets because we were in a rush to close out the chase. So our initial aim was to qualify for the final because we had a certain target to get. So, we were asked to play accordingly. And when we got close to that target is actually when we tried to go for our shots," Veda, who fetched a couple of boundaries after her team hit 117, elaborated on how her team had planned to approach the chase.
Velocity's lack of intent as they shut shop after Wyatt's wicket was in sharp contrast to the brazen nature of the format, and might not sit well with many. After all, the two settled batsmen in the middle boasted of years of international experience, as did four out of six more to follow. Opinions vary from whether this was the best advertisement of the Indian women's cricket mass potential that's desperately seeking a launchpad and can ill-afford such dud affairs, to why it is unjust to crucify a team that was just tactfully looking after itself.
To put it loosely, Velocity had the option to pick their opponent for the final once 117 was achieved. And they exercised it. Raj is more conservative in her captaincy style and irrespective, one cannot fault a team for chasing finals berth. Most teams are willing to do whatever it takes, and Velocity were under no obligation to win.
Having said, the stakes in this tournament were very different. There was more riding on these games for Indian women's cricket than for an individual team. More than who grabs the silverware, it was testing waters - showcasing the depth of the resource pool and its preparedness for T20 cricket league and, in doing that, enticing the interest of potential franchises, broadcasters and viewers. On Thursday, the 6500-odd crowd was the best in the three games so far at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. But, that started to trickle upon realising that Velocity may not after all be chasing to win.
In all honesty, this is an eventuality what a competitive three-team, single-leg tournament should have been prepared for right from the onset. More games the next year, if not a full fledged league, should fix this. Until then, Trailblazers could either see themselves as extremely unlucky to have finished both their games earlier or self-introspect and reach the conclusion that their shoddy fielding and a batting capitulation in Game 2 cost them a place in the final despite a winning start to the competition.
Velocity, meanwhile, have one hand on the trophy, just like Supernovas. And Veda noted that her side will come up refreshed, with new plans independent of the NRR calculations, for the final showdown on Saturday (May 11) against a side they might just have offered all the moral edge to by deliberately not playing for a win.
"Today's result will not make much of a difference because both teams are aware of what their strengths and weaknesses are. We will regroup and come out [with a plan] on how to field better because we dropped a couple of catches, so that was crucial in them [Supernovas] getting the ten runs extra [margin of defeat]," she stated.
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