Up and above the initial euphoria, glitter, razzmatazz, cheer girls, over dependence on Mumbai as a venue for a national tournament, and some slanderous off-field controversies, these are the ten memories I would like to retain of this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL):
1. Adrenalin replaces blood:
MS Dhoni upper-cutting himself after the crucial ‘must-win’ tie against Kings XI Punjab in Dharamsala. His team had chased down 190 odd runs and he hit the final two deliveries for huge sixes. He was most definitely in the ‘zone’.
2. Effort balls:
Doug Bollinger’s 4 overs i.e. 24 legal deliveries every match. He put in so much heart and mind into those deliveries that at the end of each over it seemed as if he had climbed and descended from the Mt. Everest six times in a row!
3. The electrical appliance (a term coined by Harsha Bhogle in the final game):
Kieron Pollard – OFF when in the dug-out with his Mumbai Indians teammates, ON when on the Cricket pitch with the bat. For a person with the power of probably a 1000 horses, he believed that he could pull of 36 runs per over easy. To be fair to him, he came close to achieving that many times during the games he played. If only the team management weren’t obliged to send the other batsman above him in the batting order.
4. Royal hits:
Murali Vijay’s blistering 127 off 56 balls against Rajasthan Royals at his home ground in Chennai, and Yusuf Pathan’s breathtaking century against Mumbai Indians in Mumbai. To say that they played ‘wonderful’ cricketing shots would be an insult to their talent. Those shots were ‘magnanimous’!
5. The odd men out:
R Ashwin’s miserly overs upfront for Chennai Super Kings and Praveen Kumar’s hat-trick against Rajasthan Royals. There were other good performances too from bowlers like Vinay Kumar, Pragyan Ojha, and the veterans like Chaminda Vaas, Anil Kumble and Muralitharan.
6. Fortunes of a team and brilliance of a man:
Mahela Jayawardene’s final few innings for Kings XI Punjab. The century he hit while chasing down the huge total posted by Kolkata Knight Riders was a treat to watch. It was a pity that a team with so much batting experience and bowling talent ended up with the wooden spoon.
Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag and Tilakaratne Dilshan amongst the big fish. ‘Mongoose‘ or not, they weren’t in their elements for the best part of the season and most of the times their teams payed for it. Inspired bowling performances (as in the case of Deccan Chargers and Delhi Daredevils) could not compensate for consistent batting failures in a game loaded in favor of the people with the willow in their hands.
8. He came, he saw, and he conquered:
Angelo Mathews‘ innings for Kolkata Knight Riders. He seemed to be in a different league when compared to the rest of the team, and that’s saying something when the batting card boasts of players like Sourav Ganguly, Chris Gayle, Brendon McCullum and David Hussey. His scores clearly shadowed other notable performances from the likes of Naman Ojha, Virat Kohli and Robin Uthappa.
9. Right on the edge:
David Hussey’s fine catch to get rid of Paul Collingwood. To have the presence of mind to flick the ball back while going over the rope, that too at a height which allowed him to easily come back in and pluck the ball out of the air again, was phenomenal.
10. Moses, and the crossing of the Red Sea:
Sachin Tendulkar shepherding the Mumbai Indians almost to the brink of triumph in the championship. His form in the IPL was sublime to say the least, and for a person of his age and level of accomplishment, the hunger for runs and success he displayed was unparalleled. If ever there’s a person who can rally his team around him, Sachin has got to be the one. Is Twenty20 a game only for the young? Sachin, along with Jacques Kallis and Rahul Dravid proved otherwise. I hope Sachin ‘steals’ his right of being a part of a championship winning team as early as the Cricket World Cup in 2011.