So the first week of an action-packed, see-saw, rollercoaster, testosterone-filled, power punched, quality overloaded, common-man-affording, test-purist-hating, opener-dominating, intoxicating IPL-4 is well and truly over. Satisfied with my ability to use most adjective in a sports writer’s vocabulary (and Shastri’s), we will now proceed to give you a concise summary of the highs and lows of the tournament being played at venue throughout a World Champion nation (couldn’t resist it):
Aila! Mad Fact of the week:
A relatively unknown Indian opener called Sachin Tendulkar (apparently a Mumbai Indian too) is yet to be dismissed in the 3 games that they have played. Few may know that he managed a century against Kochi at Wankhede on Friday night. Many may know that Mumbai Indians promptly decided to lose that game and expose their bowling weaknesses to all and sundry.
‘Don’t sulk. Please’
The world-famous-in-India Munaf Patel has been the most economical bowler of the week- something that may not surprise his millions of Gandhian-philosophy-following-practical-thinking fans during the recently concluded World Cup.
Double-Dhamaka of the week:
A very well-known Indian opener (especially on the International circuit) named Paul Valthathy whose google searches have gone from negative to lakhs faster than the time it takes Sreesanth to spot the ball sailing over the boundary off his own bowling and then promptly streak his hair orange once he is dropped- managed to capture the imagination of many an underdog-story-loving emotionally-needy fan across the small country. All he did was score a century. One may retort ‘So Deep Dasgupta did that too!’. To that, I have no answer. And to add to my cluelessness, this is only a regular T20 tournament with a few domestic players rubbing shoulders with giants. Nope, we don’t understand either.
When Lasith Malinga decided to rip out the heart of the Delhi DareDevils batting line-up faster than those of an old jaded Kenyan outfit (true fact), the Sri-Lankan Cricket Board could not fathom the irony of the situation considering the fact that the same bowler refused to bowl out the Indian top order (half of it atleast) during the World Cup final. Hence, action was taken- consistent with their famed decision-making mature-beyond-their-years thinking associated with that of a 5-year old Harvard graduate, led by the old hare between the wickets Arjuna Ranatunga. The players have been called back 10 days before their England tour begins.
Reason: to prepare thoroughly. To play in England. Or, in other words, ‘to play outside Sri Lanka, and maybe pull off a respectable close loss or two’.
Upset of the week:
Setting a target more than 180 to a team that is underconfident, weak and on the verge of oblivion seems to be a recipe for ‘complete FAIL!’ nowadays. First Chennai did it to the Kings XI (188)- and NASA seems to have confirmed the collective euphoria sweeping across Chennai after the first innings with an accurate detailed report of the exact number of white lungis visible mid-air flying around- from outer space in the 10-minute break between innings. The next innings was a bit of a haze- only confirmed by a similar report by NASA that confirmed the southern city turning some kind of sickly yellow in the one hour that followed. Some say it was a sambhar-yellow, but nothing has been confirmed yet.
And on Friday, Mumbai did a Chennai- and even went one better. Tendulkar returned to Wankhede and so did Jayawardena. Mahela must have wondered if there was any justice in the world when Sachin was given two clear reprieves early in his innings (20 years of bad umpiring against him seems to have resulted in one year of terrible umpiring FOR him)- and then went on to score a century. In T20. In the IPL. At home. Just what he needed. The tables were turned, and when the proud Mumbaikars in the stadium were still reeling with the romantic feeling and wondering how to update their facebook and twitter statuses with a proud variation of ‘I WAS THERE’ messages, Kochi managed to sneak in a comfortable win and everyone went home happy.
Paagalpandi of the week:
When there was no stopping the Sachin juggernaut at the Wankhede, the talented bowler Vinay Kumar- in an effort that seemed to have aroused suspicions of him being diagnosed with the NavjotSidhulosis disease- hurled down Malinga-style Slingers in order to surprise the inexperienced batsman.
That Malinga himself went for more than 9 an over later must have made the Sri-Lankan seamer smile even wider (than is normal) and tell Vinay Kumar, ‘I called your bluff!’ Needless to say, this utterly sensible mental battle may have not gone down too well with their respective captains.
As we speak, a case has been filed by Dhoni against Tendulkar for the illegal (and classier) use of his patented helicopter shot during the course of the latter’s century on Friday. That the bowler was Sri Lankan Thisara Perriera seems to have warmed the hearts of both, the defendant and prosecutor.
Chalo-koi-nahi of the week:
Delhi Daredevils were the only consistent team of the week- refusing to cause any sort of upsets or surprises, atleast yet. Hence, they have successfully maintained the balance of a week that was high on adrenalin and smartness. That they might carry on assuming this mantle for the next 5 weeks may be of high probability- for there should always be one such team every year. Will they proudly follow in the wooden footsteps of Deccan, Kolkata and Punjab from the earlier editions? Their team seems to think so, unless they migrate down South and form a new team.
Best impression of famous formidable African team from the South:
A category like this is a must- simply because there will be atleast one team that decides to carry on the legacy of the famous ‘C’ word. (Indian vocabulary may boast of many such similar-themed words)
When Kolkata Knight Riders were cruising to an upset victory (in hindsight, not anymore) against the champions Chennai on the opening night, not many (except a certain Jacques Kallis) were aware of the perils of the famed ‘Domino’ effect. Happens in cricket, we are told- in fact, in every World Cup since 1992 we are told- in fact, one team has consistently managed it, we are told.
‘I look younger than Kallis, for sure. What’s the big deal?’
And who else but Kallis himself could have unwittingly christened a period of 5 overs of utter panic by the Knight Riders that resulted in a loss that may have had Kallis thinking (in dramatic bangla flashback style) about a similar loss (less heartbreaking, we are told) just two weeks ago at the relatively smaller stage of the World Cup Quarterfinals.
We now move onto week#2, and the standings may not still give us a real picture of things yet (except the REALLY slow starters), but as the weeks go by- and as Kallis and Tendulkar fight it out for the Orange Cap for yet another year, the only prediction that we can safely make without any fear of being proved wrong (and thereby being mocked and lynched) is that Shahid Afridi will definitely not be coming back to India anytime soon.