End of week two. Nothing has gone according to plan, of course, and the teams continue to make a mockery of reviews and articles that analyze their performance or lack of it. As we speak, the Daredevils have just stepped onto the field to save their stuttering campaign against the surprise package of the IPL so far- the Kings XI. Let’s hope atleast one of them is in the mood to entertain- especially after a wonderfully one-sided first week for Delhi. (not in their favour most of the time).
‘Kochi Coaching Manuel’
To concise a ridiculously unpredictable week of cricket into a page or two seems like an uphill task, but then so did life for Valthaty (yes, that man again) when he lost motivation after the now-famous eye injury (which nobody seems to know the details of). Of course, insurance will be the first priority of every team who will, from hereon, hire his services. (assuming Punjab EVER let go of him)
So here is the week in short:
Aila! Mad Fact of the week:
If last week was about Sachin Tendulkar refusing to adhere to the law of averages (and cricket averages in general), this week it is HIM once again- but for a different reason altogether. Yes, he has been dismissed. Not once, but twice. So what if he was playing in front of his home crowd for the first time in this IPL? Wankhede seems to only motivate him further. Or…*World Cup Final FLASH*…maybe not.
And even more shocking than Sachin generously paving the way for the now-powerful middle order of his team- is the fact that the Daredevils WON a game. And not one, but TWO- with news just coming in of them actually setting one of the highest totals of T20 cricket EVER. 232.
What? My career as a blogger? I can’t hear you. Sorry.
Double-Dhamaka of the week:
With the Royal Challengers having lost 3 games on the trot and defying all sorts of logic as to how such a strong team on paper can actually play like a bunch of intoxicated paupers- the rejected and down-and-out Chris Gayle arrived from the beaches (or shacks) of Jamaica. He had just been dropped from the West-Indian one-day squad (What?!) with the WICB inventing new ways for West Indian cricket to hit a new low under the pretext of a *new beginning*. But we digress…
Chris Gayle arrived and tore a helpless KKR attack to shreds scoring an unbeaten century to complete one of the most dominant run chases ever seen- promptly catapulting the WICB and every IPL team management that had been involved in the player auction into a considerable amount of embarrassment and depression- except RCB, who suddenly looked like the greatest opportunistic geniuses in the world.
‘I get cussed if I don’t smash a few sixes’
Harbhajan Singh rose from the shadow of Daniel Vettori (with both being the most economical and ‘respected’ bowlers in world cricket) and achieved what only Lasith Malinga seems to be capable of doing (in his sleep no less). 5 wickets. At less than 6 an over. Against Dhoni and Co. Well, well, Andrew Symonds seems to have fired the old turbanator into top gear- as they conversed constantly with sly eye-signals and sign-language that nobody but them seemed to understand as an inside joke.
Upset of the Week:
Needless to mention, the Daredevils beating Pune- that too in a drastically one-sided game while cantering away to a target of 180+ as if they were the best team in the IPL all along- is the upset of the week. Especially after Yuvraj Singh replicated the kind of form that has made him the greatest bowling all-rounder in this world. He became only the second player in IPL history to have achieved the double of 60+ runs and 4 wickets in the same match a whole 24 long hours after it was done for the first time. Yes, it was that man Valthaty- against the Chargers- who were so shocked to see him with the ball in his hand that they refused to let him score a century when he came in to bat later on. He fell only 24 runs short.
The other upset of the week was the match between a fast-fading Rajasthan Royals and the equally incompetent (at that moment) Royal Challengers Bangalore. It rained so hard that the game was abandoned. Points were shared. Bangalore ACTUALLY gained a point, and Rajasthan duly shot up to second place without having won a game in 3 previous attempts. (albeit only for 16 hours)
Paagalpandi of the week:
In gully-cricket, when a player hasn’t been able to bat for more than a week because he is more of a bowler- the captain sends him in as a opener just so that he knows what it feels like to hold a bat, and so that he never ever criticizes the batsmen of his team for not scoring enough to defend. In the Mumbai v/s Chennai game, that did not quite have that raw charm of gully cricket (I suspect it had something to do with the importance of the stage), Sachin Tendulkar was that captain. He allowed a long-forgotten R. Sathish in with him as an opener (a game after James Franklin was tried out too), and Sathish looked very much like that grateful tail-ender who has finally discovered the meaning of true friendship and generosity. That Mumbai Indians were left with only 19 overs to score their runs is another matter altogether. (hint: Maiden)
Another inspired captaincy moment came from the scholar-like Daniel Vettori- when he nonchalantly sent out Zaheer Khan to bat at 3 while chasing down a tricky score against the Chargers at Hyderabad. First of all, Deccan were playing at home- how can you even give them a chance? Secondly…Virat Kohli? AB De Villiers? Who are they?
Oh, you mean the guys on the bench whose faces seemed to match the colour of their jerseys? Yeah, I saw them too. Pity, really.
Chalo-koi-nahi of the Week:
The Shane-Warne led Rajasthan Royals were on a roll that outgunned Delhi and Bangalore put together- considering that they had gone through their first week unbeaten and actually having played less than one game every two days. Week 2 was a living nightmare for Warne that started with the arrival of KKR to their ‘fortress’ and ended with the cheerleading abilities of Warne’s ‘good friend’ Liz Hurley being displayed inspite of her team getting violently annihilated by the brute force of Valthaty and the calm-hitting of a supposedly out-of-form Shaun Marsh. That was that- 1 point in their last 4 games seems to have put them on par with current champions Chennai- who managed to win just ONE game all week (out of the 3 they played).
What? Burnout? No way.
Also, the way Rohit Sharma turned on the style at Wankhede against the hapless Super Kings (playing THE most graceful innings seen at this year’s IPL) seems to have successfully wiped out the memories of the disbelieving Mumbai crowd just two days earlier when they had watched him bat through the last over against Pune as he had already invented a category called ‘Chalo Koi Nahi’ in this weekly column.
Best Impression of a formidable African team from the South:
Once again, KKR decided to go back to where it all started. They relived the unkind memories of their first game against CSK- by refusing to chase down one of the lowest targets set this year by the Kochi Tuskers (who defended the hell out of the score without S. Sreesanth. Shock and awe) With Eoin Morgan in the line-up along with Yusuf Pathan, KKR actually managed to achieve the unthinkable.
They fell short of a score of 132 without being bowled out. At Eden Gardens. Against a team whose best bowler seemed to be Ravindra Jadeja.
Chennai managed to go one-up on KKR though, just a few days later against Mumbai at the Wankhede. That they let Harbhajan Singh run through their middle-order like he was an incarnation of Shahid Afridi from the World Cup, spoke volumes about the champion team with a champion captain and a never-say-die attitude that actually forced S. Badrinath to take them to a respectable total before finally sinking amidst the chants of the unusually quiet home crowd.
And so we move on to Week 3- with greater twists and turns anticipated, especially now that the Daredevils have shattered every prediction made by every expert of every news channel or newspaper. They have won their second game. One more than predicted for their whole campaign.
Can they end a few more careers of promising Harsha Bhogle-wannabes within the next 7 days?
ONLY Time (also known as the quantifiable measure Rohit Sharma seems to posses in extreme abundance while facing a delivery) will tell.