Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Indian Premier League : "old order changeth yielding place to new"

The hype was enormous, the distraction caused by it allowed players to forget their national pride. Finally when it arrived, it swept a nation and many more around the world by its charisma and impetus.

Yes, I am talking about recently concluded Indian Premier League , aka popular IPL. Rajasthan Royals won the inaugural eition of the 20-20 cricket extravaganza by 3 wickets defeating Chennai Super Kings in the final. But the mere results became unimportant in front of the magnitude of the whole event. People came to watch the match in thousands, all the grounds were jam-packed, even in 35-38C heat of april-may in India. The entertainment that cricket brought provided the necessary cool-breeze. The cheer-leaders danced with every wicket or boundary scored, the loud-speakers played hindi music, and bollywood celebrities were mixed in the fray to prepare a toxic-sweet supersaturated chemical solution. ShahRukh Khan was omni present at calcutta, spreading his life energy and enthusiasm among crowd. Preity Zinta, not knowing cricket that much, still made foolish gestures and tried to appear super cool. Other big business magnets like Vijay Malya, Mukesh Ambani invested and bought franchises like Mumbai Indians and Bangalore Royal Chalengers. Big names galored, money flowed, overseas players jumped into the fray, and the face of cricket in India will never be the same again.

Junior indian players, who have played so far under 19 matches and ranji cricket at most, suddenly found players like adam gilchrist, glen mcgrath, mark boucher, shane warne, muralidharan, grame smith, ricky ponting, shoaib akhtar sharing the same dressing room with them, bowling them at the nets, giving them batting tips during practice sesions. That is the huge benefit that came out of IPL. The cricketing knowledge has flown in each direction. People from different countries and culture came together, spent time together, learned each others culture and life-style, and had accustomed acordingly. Few days ago Symonds and Rohit Sharma was giving eye for eye and tooth-or-tooth in CB series in australia. 3 months later, they are team mates in IPL, chalking out strategy together how to get rid of ponting or dravid, or how to face shane warne.
That is the beauty..cultures mixed together. The dressing room atmosphere got lighter, stories are shared. This will probably make cricket gentleman's gme again.Now lets talk about some take home memories of the IPL. Jayasuriya got the license and despatched bowlers all over the park. he hit 31 sixes in 14 matches and became a dangerous force once again. Sourav ganguly and Rahul dravid both aggregated over 350 runs with healthy average and showed that IPL is not only for young players. Harbhajan slapped sreesanth and was banned for 11 matches , and as mumbai didnt qualify for semis, he couldnt take part in IPL after the 3rd match. Rajasthan Royals became the greatest surprise of the tournament. They spend their money efectively, and at the end of player-buying auction they were the cheapest team. Incidentally, they were the best team, because they bought effective twenty twenty players, who will bowl-bat and field. They had three solid all-round capability players. Shane Watson, Yousuf Pathan, Sohail Tanvir. Tanvir was the highest wicket-taker with only economy rate around 6, watson was run-away winner for man of the series with 444 runs and 16 wickets, and yousuf pathan was brilliant when the team needed him most. Besides these thee, they had warne, who still have lot of fire left in him, and captained a young side very wel. Graeme smith provided the experience up-top. and Asnodkar was the find of the tournament where his unorthodox play always assured that royals got a good start always.
Shaun Marsh is the son of aussie opener Geoff Marsh, and Shaun show in Ipl confirmed that the son is like his father. He scored 639 runs in the whole tournament despite missing first 3 matches, and he played elegant cricket strokes, not baseball slogs, to score those runs. He adapted to the indian conditions very well, used his wrist to great extent to play his shots.
Lot of new bowlers emerged from the IPL. Ashoke Dinda, and Manpreet Gony are the two front runners. Balaji came back to cricket after two years of exile and claimed the 1st hattrick of the IPL. Spin played an important part in the tournament also as amit mishra won a few matches for delhi, and muralidharan, warne provided required breaks and impetus for their teams.

Delhi probably had one of the best sides on paper but their inconsistency finally scripted their downfall. Mcgrath and Maharoof strangled the batsmen most of the time in the tournament but failed to do so in the semifinal. Th race to the semifinal was a tight one, and other than Bangalore and Hydrebad, other teams like mumbai, kolkata, chennai, delhi was in tight midtable finish at the end.

Mumbai and Kolkata were the best examples of "could-have-happened or should-have-happened". They won some matches with such ease, and then lost some matches poorly. Mumbai suffered 3-4 last over finishes, two last ball losses that cost them semifinal place. Kolkata never found their right combination, and a weak batting line-up and injured chris gayle never helped. Deccan chargers of hyderabad would like to forget this tournament as soon as possible. Gilchrist, afridi, gibbs, symonds, rohit sharma, scott styris probably constructed a line up any captain would dream of. But too many cooks spoiled the dinner there, and a weak inexperienced bowling line-up did not help.
The talks and runours for the next season has already started. Teams are looking to buy english players who were not a part of the inaugural version. The removal of salary cap rumour has already been surfaced, and people are having mixed reaction about it. South africa, Australia, WestIndies are also trying to start their own t20 tournament, and a concept of champions league is shaping up. One british invented game is following the footsteps of another.
Though IPL lasted only 44 days, the impact will last year round, and as soon as sohail tanvir hit the wining runs in the last ball of the final, the countdown for 2009 IPL has already began.