It was an amazing and unforgettable sight of a happy Harbhajan embracing Ponting after the Aussie took a blinder, a la Jonty Rhodes at the Wankhede, defying not only gravity but also age.
My thoughts went back to 2008 when Harbhajan and Symonds of the infamous 'monkeygate' scrap being team-mates at Mumbai Indians. Such is the power of IPL and for all its faults, I guess there is a nicer side to this young, brash, loud and garish tournament.
For me, Ponting's spectacular catch and the celebration with Harbhajan thereafter would be the two abiding sights that would probably best define the IPL. I made sure I caught the replays and frankly, I couldn't get enough of it.
The new IPL season is just a week old and the teams are still in the process of settling down. Yet, some of the team compositions did surprise me. For instance, Maxwell still to get a game for Mumbai Indians who coughed out a million dollars for this boy from Australia untried and untested that he was. I mean, why pay a fortune for a player only to have him sit in the dugout!
The same Mumbai Indians also appear shy to move big Pollard up the batting order where he gets to play a few more balls. Of course, he did come in at No.5 against the Daredevils, but he needs to be persisted with in that position where I am sure he is bound to come good.
Talking about dugouts, it was quite a surprise that the Daredevils have appointed a psychologist or some such specialist to help players through the stress and pressures of T20. Also, a software was launched recently that supposedly help analyse the game in 'real time' and the promoters believe that it would replace the 'gut feeling' that is so much part of cricket folklore.
The point is that given the short duration of T20 cricket, I feel there is far too much analysis, leading to an overkill. I mean, how much can you analyse a bowler who sends down just 24 legal deliveries? A batsman among runs might at best get to face some 60 deliveries, at best, in the course of a game. The very nature of the format is such that the tide turns in a blink of an eye and the best laid plans can go for a toss.
These days, there is a clear over-analysis of cricket in the mistaken belief that what the computers spew out is the gospel to be followed rather than on-field ingenuity marked by that 'gut feeling' and flair of the captain.
A few weeks ago, Clarke's Australian team, backed as it was with a huge support staff of 'experts' and 'specialists' caved in without a whimper against a side whose senior players, notably the captain himself, have little time for these hi-tech gadgets or softwares.
T20 calls for common sense and an equanimity on the field besides appreciation of the fact that even the best of plans can go awry in execution. After all, you simply cannot replace the human element in sport where even the best falter against the weakest. The beauty lies in its unpredictability that cannot be taken away by any amount of analysis.
I am all for modern tools and techniques, but I would rather employ these to improve the quality of my life rather than an activity that is essentially a past time however professional the set up might be. At the end of the day, in sport, there is no substitute for class that usually transcends everything else. Either you have it or you don't. Software will tell you what is wrong or right, but ultimately, the onus is on the sportsperson to work hard and improve.
Thus, too much of analysis and this business of huge support staff with a 'specialist' for just about every activity, only adds to the confusion and like too many cooks, spoils the broth. T20 is short and simple, and best it is kept and seen that way.
Ponting's superlative catch defined his commitment and daring, and not so much what the support staff told him to do!