Tuesday, June 3, 2014

IPL7: The AfterThoughts

The 7th edition of the Indian Premier League has come to an end. And Congratulations to Kolkata Knight Riders for their second IPL title. After an embarrassing defeat to Rajasthan in which they lost 6 wickets for 2 runs they have really lifted their game and were deserving winners in the end.

Now the time to note down some after-thoughts (not a review) from this year's IPL.
  • The Impossible Chases - The tougher the ask, the higher the stakes, the more seemingly easy it becomes to chase it down. The team batting second knows the target and also the fact that they can only win if they go slam-bang from the first ball. And apparently this belief is actually carrying them to victory. Examples - KKR chased down 160 in under 15 overs to finish 2nd in the League; Mumbai Indians chased 191 in 14.3 to enter the qualifiers; CSK blitzed 100 in 6 overs in a chase of 227; Rajasthan smashed 65 in 3 overs to win with an over to spare. And it all culminated in the final with KKR chasing down 200.
  • The previous edition of the IPL was under the spot-fixing cloud. This year, thankfully, no such corruption allegations have emerged, as yet (fingers crossed). Though given the Lou Vincent & Player X stories coming out, sceptics want to see everything through tinted glasses. And that is the damage which has been done by the fixers.
  • The IPL unfolds like a story. Its a little long drawn but this year's script had the perfect climax. The events from the last set of league matches down to the final must have been the perfect dream run for the marketing teams.
  • The final stretch also highlighted the importance of the "Indian" part of the IPL. Manan Vohra, Wriddhiman Saha, Manish Pandey, Akshar Patel, Yusuf Pathan & Piyush Chawla in the final; Sehwag & Raina in the eliminator. It was mostly an Indian show towards the end.
  • Congratulations to Yusuf Pathan, for becoming the first player to be part of 3 IPL winning squads - once with Rajasthan and twice with KKR.
  • Special congratulations to Vinay Kumar, Robin Uthappa & Manish Pandey for winning their 4th domestic title of the year - Irani Trophy, Ranji Trophy, Vijay Hazare Trophy & the IPL.
  • Special Mention - Suresh Raina. He is the IPL GOAT (Greatest of All Time). The highest scores across seasons is the most reliable batsman and fielder in IPL with the happy habit of taking key wickets as well. And most importantly performing in crunch matches. The blitzkrieg against Kings XI was one to be remembered, though in a losing cause.
  • The umpiring standards in India are pretty poor. But the umpires are under far greater scrutiny than ever before. Its a tough ask made tougher by the technological hindsight provided to everyone except the people responsible for making decisions.
  • The Club vs Country Conundrum - This is not going to end ever. And the only one who has a right to make a decision is the player concerned. Though the club and the country do both need to have a slightly flexible approach in the matters. Sunil Narine chose to play in the IPL final over joining a West Indies Test camp. He did produce his worst performance of the season. Maybe this off-field drama was to be blamed or maybe he just had a bad day in office. But no player should have to make such choices.
  • And finally a word on the winners - Kolkata Knight Riders was a team made up mostly of India discards. But one by one all the pieces fell in place - Uthappa, Gambhir, Umesh, Chawla, Shakib, Narine, Surya Yadav and Manish Pandey - they became the strongest team in the whole lineup. A couple of them even made their India comebacks.
  • And a word about the final - Sony Max couldn't resist playing Veer Zaara right before the finals :P

So the IPL fest concludes and now back to serious cricket. Tours of Bangladesh and England beckon for the team. Its a good idea to test the bench strength in the Bangladesh ODI series (only good use this hastily arranged series can have).  And then off to a 5-Test series against England. Hopefully results will be drastically different from the 2011 tour.

Nishant Kumar for DieHard Cricket Fans
Follow Nishant on Twitter @NishantSKumar

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