After two months, the tournament finally stopped to prowl and all we remember is the brawl. IPL2012 had his moments of cricketing brilliance, off-the field turbulence and Munaf Patel. It did see a few stars in the making, a few stars fading and a star invading – the ground.
A politician showed the way to Indian pacers – if it’s fast, it better be quick (a rapid fire quick fast ending in three hours). Dada did a KKR to PWI. KKR did a miracle. And ever since currency exchange rates have started favoring Ravindra Jadeja, message about the doomsday has become loud and clear.
So ladies and gentlemen, let’s look back. Let’s look back at those never ending two months and see how it all happened through my keyboard.
Pune Warriors India (PWI) – My support for PWI was not just because it’s a team belonging to my favorite city or my city of residence. It was because of the man leading them. Yes. Dada. PWI’s biggest strength was its leader – the best India has produced at least in modern times. Problem was, if you lead a cricket team, you need to play for it as well. If any team would have been benefitted most by the theory of a non playing captain, it was PWI. In Dada’s leadership, PWI started like India did in ICC Knockout trophy in 2002. In Dada’s leadership, PWI ended like KKR did in first three editions of IPL. As far as others are concerned – Steve Smith took a few tumbling catches, Dinda bowled a few good spells, Nehra kept evoking the famous question “Why Nehra” in almost every match and an ocean of Bollywood divas kept waiving team’s flag behind the owners.
Highlight of the season - But PWI’s and Dada’s biggest achievement came later in the tournament when Michael Clarke played for them. Tell me, how many Australian captains would have taken orders from an Indian? Maybe many but how many Australian captains would have taken orders from an Indian on their honeymoon?
Deccan Chargers (DC) – DC’s most consistent performer for the entire season was none other than Gayatri Reddy. She came to watch every match. She cheered for them in every match. She was there till the very end in every match. She jumped in joy with them, for them. She sulked in sorrow with them, for them. Her spirits didn’t drop. Her enthusiasm didn’t decrease. She kept the DC flag high and flying.
Oh by the way, DC did participate this year. Steyn gave some stupendous performances. His bowling was an exhibition to all those who love to see ball swing, seam and zip around.
Highlight of the season - But DC played a very crucial role in the tournament. Their party was over even before it could begin. Hence they decided to spoil some parties. RCB and RR would vouch for it.
Rajasthan Royals (RR) – I cannot vouch for if the tournament was all fair and square or not but I can vouch for one thing – whoever followed this year’s IPL, must have supported RR at least once. Such is the legend of the man – Ravindra Jadeja. We supported RR for showing the courage to let go Jadeja after 3rd season. And we hoped only if we can replicate this in our national side.
Sometimes strength can become a weakness. Maybe that is what happened with RR. At times their top order looked more interested in showcasing classical batting and it did cost them dearly. Not that I am complaining. I would prefer watching class of Rahul Dravid and artistry of Ajinkya Rahane rather than seeing Gayle’s sixes landing in Ulsoor Lake. Call me an orthodox if you want.
A weakness rarely becomes strength. When you have an express quick bowler in your lineup who is sure to give away at least 10 wides per match (5 normal and 5 through byes), vision of hopes does become blurred for you. When all the talks about his 200kph+ speed couldn’t stop Australia from losing a test match in Perth-2008, Shaun Tait announced his retirement from test cricket. When India knocked out Australia from WC11, Shaun Tait decided to retire from ODIs. I won’t be surprised to see him alongside Danny M in the next season of IPL.
Highlight of the season - In the end, RR won the award most suited to them – “Fair Play Award”. And world cricket couldn’t have found a better recipient than Rahul Dravid to receive the award.
Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) – Frankly speaking, I didn’t follow KXIP at all. If one leaves aside city-loyalty factor, the premises around which the tournament is built upon, only reason to follow a team could be your favorite cricketer. With KXIP, there were none. Adam Gilchrist didn’t play for the major part of the tournament. And I cannot recall anyone other than David Hussey as a well-known name in their side. Last season’s sensation, Valthaty, was well sorted out by everyone. Piyush Chawla repetitively showed us his best attribute as a cricketer – his dimples. Praveen Kumar remained invisible barring one match where he went for just 8 runs in his 4 overs.
Yes, some domestic talent did sizzle. Awana looked impressive. Mandeep Singh scored over 400 runs without; I am sure, even letting his own shadow know about it.
Highlight of the season - Highlight of the season for KXIP came when Adam Gilchrist stopped his owner from charging onto the ground. Hope someone informs Juhi Chawala that we are cricket fans. We have cried seeing Sachin charging onto the ground, getting mobbed by his own teammates, being lifted on their shoulders and given a lap of honor. On that night, we did shed the tears of joy. We don’t follow cricket to see film stars doing that, charging onto the ground I mean. We don’t want to shed tears of anguish.
Royal Challenger Bangalore (RCB) – Every year RCB comes charging on the shoulders of Chris Gayle. Every year he threatens to take it away singlehandedly. Every year he fails in one THAT game. THAT game becomes RCB’s last game. RCB’s threat to explode has always been bigger than anyone else. And they do explode – be it Gayle or AB de Villiers or Virat Kohli or as it happened this time – Mayank Agarwal. Unfortunately they implode too – normally in form of Vinay Kumar. If looks could transform into bowling performance, world cricket wouldn’t have seen a more lethal bowler than Zaheer Khan. Unfortunately in T20, his looks which seem to threaten more than his bowling. RCB implodes in form of Zaheer Khan too.
Playing half of their matches in Chinnaswamy Stadium means their bowlers have to contend with a small ground and a pitch which is a batting paradise. More often than not, RCB’s batsmen bail them out. But their final implosion comes in form of Gayle’s failure. They do it once. It happens to be their last.
Highlight of the season – Luke Pomersbach. Enough said.
Delhi Daredevils (DD) – DD truly reflected Delhi in 2012. First it bowed down to West Bengal. Then it was hammered by Tamil Nadu. They were all looking at the man at the top but he lost it all when it really mattered. Everyone ready to laud his bold leadership ended up ridiculing it like his bald head.
DD will give a tough fight to South Africa in ICC World Cups – both play like champions till the knockout stages and both have championed the art of getting knocked out after that.
Watching Sehwag bat was a treat. Watching Morkel bowl was a pleasure. Mahela Jayawardhane learnt that it’s not funny at all if you have Ajit Agarkar bowling for you. Ross Taylor finally realized that cover drive is a legitimate shot. And immortals of Venu achieved unimaginable height.
One of the two things most acceptably associated with Sehwag’s batting are – he plays his natural game. But his move to send Pavan Negi ahead of Ross Taylor looked more like responding to nature’s call. Second thing most widely associated with Sehwag’s batting is – the see the ball, hit the ball theory. I am sure he applied it to team selection as well – see the player, pick the player. Morkel must have been responding to nature’s call when Sehwag would have gone around picking his team. Andre Russell must have met him outside the toilet.
Highlight of the season – It actually never came. We all waited for Sehwag-Narine duel but Sehwag ensured that we kept waiting. Poor Narine will have to wait for the result of any spinner’s toughest test – the test against Sehwag.
Mumbai Indians (MI) – If DD is South Africa of IPL, MI must be England. They have done it all – knocked out in the initial rounds, been in top four and been the runners up. They have done everything apart from stopping Anu Malik from coming to the ground as MI supporter and singing dekho bearish ho rahi hai during the innings break. Rumor has it that everyone was in favor of awarding fair play award to MI after one of their cricketers slapped a future star of Kochi Tuskar Kerala. But Anu Malik’s curls changed the consensus.
Right from the start, MI has followed one simple philosophy – in God we trust, rest all is Munaf Patel. So if God fails, MI batsmen ASAP clear way for Munaf Patel. Recently, MI has adopted another very popular philosophy – whenever Sachin scores runs, his team loses.
These two different schools of thoughts made life difficult for MI. Now either Sachin had to go all the distance himself to win a match or make a good enough but not big enough contribution so that his team could win.
MI always rides big on Mallinga. Mallinga always gives his 100%. He treated this year’s eliminator like world cup final. Maybe that was a mistake. He was bowling to MS Dhoni.
Highlight of the season – Nope. It was not Munaf and Harbhajan teaming up against an umpire. It was not Sachin’s magic with the bat. It was not Mallinga’s toe crushing Yorkers. It was the fuel price hike which made the owners grin and it didn’t matter a bit that MI didn’t win.
Chennai Super Kings (CSK) – Colaba has many old buildings and almost all of them are disputed. If one goes by the ongoing rate, their price must be beyond human imagination. Those old buildings are extremely expensive. But the owners cannot derive any benefits from them, barring a meager rent of a few thousands, because disputed properties hardly find any buyers. They are actually worthless. An owner can only beat his chest saying “I own a property in Colaba” although deep down his heart, the owner knows the hollowness of his claim.
I don’t have access to CSK’s account books to tell whether they own any property in Colaba or not. But I do have access to their team sheet. The team sheet includes a name – Ravindra Jadeja. The moment CSK bought over Jadeja, they lost a loyal supporter in me.
CSK have been a master of MIMO – minimum input and maximum output. They have been like Australia of IPLs – they always come from nowhere and go the distance. Maybe color yellow has got to do something with it. I am also thinking of stuffing my wardrobe with yellow shirts, yellow trousers, yellow socks and yellow boots.
This must have been the worst season for CSK. To reach the knockout stage, they needed 3 results to go in their favor. Others capitulated. CSK capitalized. In the knock off stage – CSK exploded whereas others imploded.
In the final, they tamed KKR’s most dreaded weapons – Narine and Gambhir. But they didn’t have answers to other questions in the final exam. They met an “out of syllabus” Bisla. Rest is history.
Highlight of the season – Highlight of the season was their most expensive buy – Ravindra Jadeja. After Jadeja winning man of the match in one of the initial matches in the league stage, MSD seemed to have lost faith in Jadeja’s ability and regained faith in his own captaincy. For the last few crucial matches, he kept picking Jadeja as a batman who didn’t bat and as a bowler who didn’t bowl.
But in life, ladies and gentlemen, it’s easy to get away with a few bad decisions. A horrible decision does come to bite you when it matters most. Jadeja forgot the golden rule of never getting a South African out, especially if he belongs to 90s, in a run chase. Jadeja took Kallis’ catch which lifted choker’s curse from KKR. Rest is history and Ravindra Jadeja will always be a mystery to me.
KolKata Knight Riders (KKR) – In the final, I was supporting KKR. Maybe because I was bored of seeing men in yellow lifting the trophy again and again. Maybe because I have spent good part of my student life in Calcutta and I have a strong connection with the city.
But I am not sure if I will ever support them again. If SRK’s histrionics and wardrobe malfunction is the reward for supporting KKR, if SRK’s everlasting post match interviews are the price I need to pay for supporting KRK, I would rather support comeback of KTK. At least I can hope for seeing Santhakumaran Sreesanth in purple trousers and orange jersey. I am sure he will be sporting orange hair, wearing a fluorescent green cloak and wearing his undergarments above his pants.
KKR won because of some solid performances at the top of the order and Anajtha Mendis’ reincarnation in Sunil Narine. Gautam Gambhir became their Sachin, Kallis became their Kallis, Mccaullum became their Kaluvithrana, Bisla became their Valthaty, Balaji became their Madan Lal and Yusuf Pathan became their Ravindra Jadeja.
They kept getting some handy performances here and there too. Like Rajat Bhatiya who added a new variation to his repertoire – the seam up ball. Like Iqbal Abdulla who, along with Sakib-ul-hasan, gave everyone a feel that they were playing against Bangladesh – Bangladesh have just three kinds of bowlers in their attack, left arm spinners, left arm spinners and left arm spinners. Like Debpratim Das who ensured that the ghost of the one-match-wonder – Hrishikesh Kanitkar, lives on. Like Manoj Tiwary who may well retire with the record of being a batsman who scored a century in his last ODI.
Plus they were good in the field. All in all, they looked the best team in the tournament. The best team won.
Highlight of the season – Highlight of KKR’s season came after it all was over. It wasn’t SRK’s acts. It wasn’t Gauri Khan’s interviews. It wasn’t KKR winning the trophy. It was rebirth of Sachin. As GG said in the post match presentation “We did it for Balaji”, Balaji must be our new Sachin.
This brings us to the end of IPL-2012 review. Life will go on. Soon we shall all be supporting one common color – blue. Success will send us all to the moon. Failure will make us demand for our own cricketers. Demand for Sachin’s retirement will continue. Sachin will keep achieving new highs in his career and will say every time after doing so, “Retiring on high is selfish”.
A year will pass by before we may even blink and IPL-2013 will arrive – hopefully with reintroduction of KTK.
Well off course, this all holds good only if Mayans are proved wrong.
PS: Pun intended. Any sentiments hurt are deeply regretted.
Image courtesy: yahoo.