The IPL continues to be a good retirement home for old cricketers. In fact the first two editions were won by captains who had retired: Shane Warne of the Rajasthan Royals and Adam Gilchrist of the Deccan Chargers, both Australians.
While Gilchrist continues with Kings XI Punjab, other retiree captains in IPL5 are the "just retired" Rahul Dravid of RR and the "never will retire" Sourav Ganguly of Pune Warriors India. Ganguly's cricketing career keeps getting extended and one can never be sure when he will really call it a day.
In fact most of the captains of IPL5 are veterans and 30-year-old Gautam Gambhir of Kolkata Knight Riders is the youngest captain in IPL5. There's nobody in their twenties like international cricket. IPL leadership sure does require age and experience!
Other retirees are batsman Mohammed Kaif, bowlers Muttiah Muralitharan, Ajit Agarkar and Ashish Nehra.
Then there are bowlers like Brett Lee, Lasith Malinga and Shaun Tait, who have retired from Test cricket. Other youngsters have virtually retired from Team India but may get to play for many more years in the IPL.
Before the IPL began, there were two theories that were going around. One was that the tournament would suit the youth. "It's a young man's game," they kept saying when Twenty20 made its debut in the world.
The second was that there would be no place for spinners and they would be thrashed all over. Slow bowlers really didn't seem to stand much of a chance.
Both theories have since bitten the dust and how!
It's Rajasthan all the way
One state that has stormed to the national cricket scene is Rajasthan. Before the IPL began, it was a nowhere state and had won nothing of repute. But now suddenly it is a state to reckon with.
It all began with a sporting legislation brought out by the Government of Rajasthan that resulted in elections being held for the first time in the Rajasthan Cricket Association. That was won by Lalit Modi in 2005 and the rest is history.
Rajasthan Royals won the inaugural edition of the IPL in 2008. It was a great success story scripted by the wily Shane Warne, who finally realized his captaincy ambitions. He excelled as a coach too. Edging out CSK in a thriller in the final was a big achievement, all the more considering what a big success CSK eventually became.
Modi had silent stakes in RR, so could claim some credit in the victory.
In 2009 Modi lost and gave way to Sanjay Dixit who professionalized the state system and that also led to great results. Rajasthan won the Ranji Trophy for the first time in their history in the 2010-11 season. If that wasn’t enough, they made it two in a row by winning the 2011- 12 season too.
In IPL5 too after playing six matches, RR have gone straight to the top of the table. Rahul Dravid and RR have so far proved lucky for each other and just might end up going all the way this time.
Evolution of the chase
Time was when 250 on the board in an ODI match would have seen the team batting first confident of a win. Then 300 proved to be chaseable and finally 400. The same thing is happening in IPL too.
Time was when 160 would have seemed a good total to defend. But that has been thrown out of the window this time.
On April 12, RCB set a victory target of 206 for CSK which would have been seen as way enough. But CSK fought from the beginning to the end and a crazy 19th over which yielded a whopping 28 runs from Albie Morkel saw CSK through with a 5-wicket victory.
April 17 proved to be a double delight. First the Rajasthan Royals chased down a target of 197 with 5 wickets to spare in a match with Deccan Chargers and then RCB chased a target of 183 for the loss of just 4 wickets.
Suddenly no total is safe enough!
Six fours in an over. Five sixes in an over. It's all been done and we haven't even crossed the half-way mark of the tournament!
The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/