It was a nightmarish experience for Knight Riders. With Deccan Chargers charging ahead in the IPL, after steamrolling new skipper Brendon McCullum's Kolkata, a crestfallen Shah Rukh may have had second thoughts on his team and captaincy.
It looked like SRK missed a heart-beat when Sourav Ganguly was out for just a single and his team on a paltry 16. The way Deccan Chargers' 'Demolition Men' R P Singh and Harmeet Singh made a short work of the Knights it seemed SRK and McCullum had no inkling about the strengths of the Adam Gilchrist-led opposition.
Blame it on the rain gods, bad captaincy or just a stroke of luck, the defeat is a maiden blow to SRK's business interests as one the elite IPL franchisees. But all is not lost for the Bollywood star. He can take it like just another miss at the Box Office. On the brighter side, SRK's mere presence in the stands is a great morale-boost for his team.
While Knight Riders' top bosses are putting their heads together and thinking of a winning formula for the remaining matches, their ace cricketer and ex-captain Ganguly must be busy contemplating what went wrong on 'Super Sunday'. After all, one single loss is not the end of the world for the Kolkata prince.
True, the wet weather played spoilsport and added to Knight Riders' miseries, but it was a collective loss for the team. Ask any cricketing expert or a golden oldie and he will guide you through a team's preparation strategies for a given day.
While it is extremely difficult to shape a team into a winning combination during a short 'conditional camp', it is the team coach's responsibility to field the best players on a given day. Taking his captain into confidence, how best he uses his available talent from different countries, can spell his team's triumph and tragedy.
Keeping in view South Africa's pitches and unpredictable weather conditions, the smart act would have been to choose a team accordingly. Glitz and glamour is one thing and playing out there in the middle is another.
While some players perform best under home conditions, others give their best shot under pressure. It is also true that some grey horns totter under pressure. The fact is there are some players like Sachin Tendulkar, banking on their experience and technique, score over others most of the time.
With so much money at stake in the present shorter version of the game -- when the spectators want pure entertainment and full value of their money -- it would be naïve to believe that cricket is a game of chance.
Now as the IPL rolls into an even more exciting phase, one hopes the rain gods will have some mercy on the cricket-loving public, including all those who have heavily invested on this fiscal venture.
So, over to Monday's match, of course the rain gods permitting! It will be between Chennai Super Kings and Bangalore Royal Challengers at Port Elizabeth from 8 pm to 11 pm.
(R.M.S. Atwal is a Ludhiana-based Freelance Journalist and can be reached at email@example.com)