It's been one month since the most anticipated cricket tournament this year, and it's definitely lived up to its hype. Great individual performances, superb come-from-behind victories, passionate crowds and entertainment all round. But enough about the Bangladesh-Zimbabwe Test series.
There's another little tournament doing the rounds – the Indian Premier League, as you are no doubt aware of. Even if you don't watch the IPL, you can't help but notice that every marketer in the country has decided to ride the IPL wave making some ridiculous offer desperately trying to tie back to cricket (“Pressure Cooker Premier League!!!!! SALE NOW!” or “HIT A MAXIMUM WITH SECTION 80CCF LONG TERM INFRASTRUCTURE BONDS! HOWZAAT!”).
It’s been been one month since we got into the IPL, and I’m willing to bet that other than Chris Gayle’s 175 and the Gambhir-Kohli spat, nobody remembers a darn thing. But hey, the IPL was never about establishing long-term memories! So to refresh, let’s have a look at some of the highlights of this edition of the annual cricket carnival.
The worst possible start: And no, we’re not talking about the IPL opening ceremony. Unmukt Chand, hailed as the country’s next big thing after that scintillating century in the U19 World Cup final and the hullaballoo over his St. Stephen’s saga - failed to impress with 2 first-ball ducks, including off the first ball of the IPL, cleaned up by Brett Lee. For Unmukt, it was a disastrous start, especially, as Akash Chopra pointed out, he’s been seen in more ads than matches during the IPL. For his team, it was just the beginning of what looks to be a disastrous tournament.
11th hour experts: Chennai seems to have perfected the art of waiting till the last minute to finish things off. It almost seems to annoy Dhoni if the chase is finished off early, like what someone who paid 300 rupees for a movie at PVR Juhu feels like, when the movie is just 1.5 hours long.
Role reversal: For the first time in history, it’s the men from Delhi who are getting raped. 7 losses from 9 matches – their worst ever outing.
Ate something funny: Chris Gayle, last season was a dangerous opponent. This year, he’s the reason behind many bowlers ‘unexpectedly’ falling sick on the day of the match.
Role models: Both tipped as future captains, Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli showed millions of people around the world that they were not to be messed with. Their on-field altercation, probably to discuss which fantasy players each other had picked, or which would be the best place to get F. Scott Fitzgerald books in Hauz Kauz, will no doubt scare off any opponents trying to sledge India. Well to be fair to Gauti and Virat, they’re probably the only people from Delhi to take something positive out of the IPL so far…
The dead horse flogging: Just when everyone thought Slapgate was dead and buried, along comes Shantakumaran Sreesanth to prove everyone wrong. By opening a five-year-old can of worms, the ex-Punjab, ex-Tuskers, now-Royals paceman finally found a way to get back into the headlines, since his on-field performance was nothing great, anyway. Sreesanth remains the second biggest embarrassment to Malayalees around the world, only narrowly beating this disaster.
Ultimate Comedy: The last ball of the RCB-CSK match at Chennai could easily beat The Big Bang Theory or Modern Family for being the biggest comedy of the year. I would like to elaborate more on this, but this GIF sums it up brilliantly.
Better advertisements: The ads from the last IPL were enough to make you want to gouge your eyes out. This year thankfully, everyone seems to have gotten their acts right. Idea’s ‘telephone exchange’ ads are fabulous (remember the disastrous Abhishek-in-heaven ads last year?), Frooti made us believe that the best way for a geek to win over the college’s hottest chick was by glugging mango juice during his convocation speech (this year, thankfully, there’s a hilarious ad using SRK), Havell’s has a touching series of ‘hawa badlegi’ ads, and of course - the Vodafone Zoozoos are back (which can only be a good thing). The IPL ad space has been the breeding ground for horrors such as Musli Powder and Lloyd’s Electricals (remember that horror jingle from 2011?), so it’s refreshing to know that this time, when the over is up, we don’t need to change channels in order to maintain sanity. However, it’s still not 100% good, since we still have to endure Saif Ali Khan dancing with a huge bottle of Appy. But something’s better than nothing.
Buddhe log: One cannot just get himself to loathe Sachin Tendulkar and Adam Gilchrist. Especially Adam Gilchrist. But both are very clearly past their use-by date and should stop playing before they keep embarrassing themselves. Surely, they’re smart enough to know that it’s time to go. Australian selectors, who’ve been ruthless in terms of axing cricketers, must be frothing seeing such ineptitude by one of their own. While in the case of Tendulkar, it really is a case of guts and having a lot of insurance to drop him, lest his mob of irrational fans scream for blood.
The paradox: India is a great country. This is a country where only one in 5000 applicants gets an IIT seat, and one in 10,000 applicants gets an IIM Ahmedabad seat. We have institutes of repute, our diaspora has been recognized around the world, and we are regarded as the world’s knowledge center. Despite this, our country also churns out Rochelle Rao and Karisma Kotak, who are the biggest embarrassment to cricket since the jersey worn by the Kochi Tuskers. Watching these ramp hotties trying hard to strike up a cricket conversation with experienced players is like asking Kamaal R Khan to host the Oscars.
That’s just half of the IPL. The next half should get more interesting. Who knows, perhaps Delhi will stage a comeback. Perhaps Sourav Ganguly will leap into the Pune team and score a triple century. Perhaps Kolkata’s cheerleaders will finally get a proper outfit. Perhaps Lalit Modi and N Srinivasan will have a boxing match during the closing ceremony. I can’t wait, really.