We know, we know, it feels like for ever since the IPL started but it’s only been a fortnight since the carnival began. The last week was notable for one thing in particular - a few more exciting games. The first week had all of two close finishes, and that was not very good for the tournament in particular (especially since it was already beleaguered by poor TV ratings, missing sponsors and the mysterious absence of S Sreesanth).
The best and worst from the last week of the IPL, below.
The outrage-worthy moment: In a shocking moment of disregard and ignorance, an on-screen poll showed that 62% of poll participants believed that MS Dhoni was a better captain than Saurav Ganguly. Sure, granted that MS has all the silverware under his belt - but are we forgetting the minor fact that for more than half a decade, it was Dada who rebuilt the team, took bold decisions, stood by people who would be the game-changers for India and generally injected some steel into the team? And that too, after taking over the captaincy following match-fixing?
Tsk tsk… It reminded me of the Indian Boss mentality - only results matter.
The miracle: 43 runs off 12 balls is by no means unachievable, especially in T20, but for a large part, it remains just that - achievable, while supporters of the batting team slowly resign themselves into thinking it’s all over. Heck, the fastest ODI fifty is off five balls more. Enter Albie Morkel whose seven balls lasted 464626W. 28 runs off a Virat Kohli over was all the CSK needed. ‘twas truly an advertisement of what is possible at the IPL and was a much-needed boost to a tournament desperately needing thrilling finishes.
The unlikely-to-challenge-Usain-Bolt-duo: Jesse Ryder and Saurav Ganguly opening the batting. Individually, they are both fine tonkers of the ball and are capable of winning games on their own (as Jesse proved). But watching them run is funnier than The Three Stooges at their best. Run-outs always looked inevitable when these two were batting. Stick to hitting fours and DLF Maximums, I say.
Headaches for the media sales team: If you’re like me, you know, in advertising and all, you’ll notice that the number of ads are fewer, there were few less annoying ads popping up during the game, no ugly blimp… One could think that the IPL marketing team sat down and thought, “Right, this time we’re going to focus on viewer experience rather than try and milk every second for money”, but somehow I don’t think that’s the case. Companies have finally realized that the outrageous rates charged by Sony for IPL spots were unviable for them. Want final proof? Look at the number of ads for the Sony properties itself - Indian Idol and the IPL itself. A steep correction of ad rates is on the cards, as Ravi Shastri would put it.
Nerves of steel award: Sanjay Manjrekar, who once was forced to sit between Navjot Sidhu and Gaurav Kapur in the studio. In the presence of cheerleaders. While everyone was supposedly analyzing the game. Brrrr.
Bappi Lahiri award for OMG-level bling: Usha Uthup made her presence during one of the KKR games at the Eden Gardens, and we’re pretty sure they didn’t use floodlights during that game. All that was needed was for Uthup (and some convex lenses) to stand in a strategic position. The woman was in a ghastly shade of purple, further adorned by gold and a bindi that had the Bengali letter ‘Ko’ for Kolkata.
Introducing the Self-sledge: We’ve all seen how the opposition bowlers sledge batsmen to mentally disorient them and they finally get out. Sure, that’s a part of the game. But have you ever seen a self-sledge…? Being sledged by your own teammate and then being given out? Well, that’s what happened during a Pune game. Marlon Samuels said something to Jesse Ryder which obviously did not please the big man who gave it right back to Samuels. The conversation had Ryder shaking his head mouthing unsavouries while Samuels played the shot of a man with his mind on other things and got clean bowled. We don’t know what words were exchanged, but they are unlikely to be about the fluctuating prices of BHEL on the Sensex.
Painful watching the legends: It’s really sad to see bright candles fading out slowly but surely. Ganguly, for all his astute captaincy, has failed to deliver with the bat and there has been talk of making him a non-playing captain. Adam Gilchrist, who plundered bowlers all over the world, has been a liability really for Punjab. And well, Rahul Dravid has played some good shots but they really don’t look like him – he looks totally out of place trying to play slogs and it’s kinda sad to have our last memory of Dravid batting being ugly un-Dravid-like shots like these.
KLPD of the tournament: Crowds clamoured to see Sachin. But where was Sachin? In hospital or the dugout nursing his finger which Doug Bollinger had injured during the first match of the IPL. So no talisman player, no crowd-puller. What a damp squib! The IPL should fine Dougie for his reckless act!
All is not lost for real cricket: One thing that we've noted throughout the IPL was the lack of ugly, manufactured shots (I'm looking at you, Tillekaratne Dilshan) and actual proper cricketing shots. You know, drives, pulls, cuts, shots getting down on the knee... Why, even that erstwhile raider of pubs Jesse Ryder had fine glances and nuanced glides. But no one personified this effectiveness with traditional aesthetic more than Rajasthan's batting revelation - Ajinkya Rahane. His 98 last week was a glittering innings, but his century this week was even better - full of shots that would have even grumpy ol' uncles (who don't watch the IPL and swear only by Gundappa Vishwanath) applauding and raising their glasses of filter coffee.
Deepak Gopalakrishnan aka Chuck is a Mumbai-based cartoonist, blogger and green chilli aficionado.
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