(First published at Sportskeeda. )
Picture courtesy - Times of India.
Last night, IPL 2013 kick-started.
It is that time of the year for Indian viewers when they get to know about Akshay Kumar’s next movie during the mid-innings break or listen to what Katrina Kaif thinks about DRS. As Ravi Shastri would have put it – this is what IPL is all about.
The match was between two bizarre teams. One was KKR, known for selecting strange teams and the second one was DD, known for strange team selections.
After all, how can you explain KKR picking up Mashrafe Mortaza for USD 650,000 and playing him in just one match? How can you explain DD dropping Morne Morkel in a knock out match?
That’s why I used the word – bizarre.
Who do I support, KKR or DD?
Without Dada, I cannot support KKR. I just cannot.
Can I support DD?
In its bowling line up, DD has the names of Ajit Agarkar, Ashish Nehra, Irfan Pathan and Umesh Yadav.
It is a dream line up, a dream scattered across fifteen years – all have been/are the main pacers for Team India but it is a dream which could not/has to come true.
It is difficult supporting DD. Sehwag is injured. I wish Umesh Yadav was not playing IPL. Even Irfan Pathan would have given up on playing for India. Supporting a team for the sake of Ashish Nehra is as difficult as being perfectly happy with your own salary.
There is not a single player in DD’s side, Indian player I mean, who can make you support DD.
Maybe Unmukt Chand is one such player. We have heard that he is the future. There is no harm in supporting the future.
Unmukt must have been introducing himself to the world with lines like “You know, I am the guy who scored a match winning hundred on the day of U19 World Cup final” but Brett Lee’s scorcher to him looked like saying, “You know, big boys play at night”.
To be fair to Unmukt, not many would have survived that unplayable ball from Lee. It was just too good.
Mahela was sublime as ever. The other batsmen just never bothered.
Warner continued his batting form from the recently concluded Test series. Naman Ojha showed why even MSD haters don’t have enough faith in him. Irfan Pathan was, well, Irfan Pathan. Andre Russell showed that he doesn’t play Narine even in nets.
At some point during the DD innings, the moment of the night arrived. As the first six of the match was hit, I waited to hear how “Pepsi Maximum” was going to sound. To my and everyone’s surprise, what followed next was earth shattering.
“Yes” said Harsha Bhogle. He took a pause, thought if he should really do it and finally said, “It is a Yes Bank Maximum.”
What? A Yes Bank Maximum? Seriously? A Yes Bank Maximum- a term not many of us would be able to fathom for the rest of our lives. If I ever get a chance to meet Mr. Rana Kapoor, I will surely ask him “Why sir, why?”
Anyway, it is official. “DLF Maximum” has been replaced by “Yes Bank Maximum”. Banks bailing out the crap created by real estate firms is what caused the credit crisis. I wish this fact was paid some attention.
DD’s innings gave me a chance to look at Ashish Nehra. I had really forgotten him – the man whose committed dive denied him the chance to play in the World Cup final. No matter what one has to say about Nehra’s fluctuating form or nearly non-existent fitness, one thing has been consistent about his game – his batting. All these years, he has had just one stroke in his repertoire – a cross batted heave to mid-wicket. And that’s how it ended, as it has often in the past, a cross batted heave being caught at mid-wicket.
Nothing has changed in his batting. Absolutely nothing.
129 could have been a challenging score on a slow, low and turning track of Eden. I think it wasn’t such a bad score. What DD needed were a few good spinners.
Alas, DD was full of pacers – Nehra, Pathan, Yadav and Arnold. Did I mention they are known for strange team selections?
KKR’s start was so KKR-like. They lost an early wicket and then it was down to Kallis and Gambhir. They batted well.
Not until Shabaz Nadeem was introduced into the attack did anything happen for DD. Nadeem has been performing well in domestic cricket in last few seasons. He has come quite close to being considered for national selection – this is what I have read.
Last night, I found him impressive.
The ball was doing a lot, the flight was good and he was beating the batsmen regularly. Not to ignore the fact that he had to bowl to some good batsmen of spin bowling – Gambhir, Kallis and Tiwary.
Compared to this, Narine had the luxury of bowling to the likes of Warner, Russell and the other non-existent DD batsmen. Narine’s only challenge was Mahela. Mahela negotiated him easily.
Yet, there were no kind words for Nadeem’s bowling from the commentators. Instead, they were busy going gaga about Russell’s athleticism. Anyway, commentators are the experts and I am not. Let’s leave it at that.
Nadeem claimed Kallis on his third ball. The next batsman in was Manoj Tiwary.
Normally, we all blame our own talent for being overshadowed by others’ good luck. It is opposite in Manoj Tiwary’s case. He can blame his own luck for being overshadowed by someone else’s talent – the talent of Rohit Sharma. I used to be fan of Manoj Tiwary but having seen him bat in recent domestic matches and yesterday, I think he is fast losing a fan.
I think he is also losing hope. We cannot really blame Tiwary, can we? He is losing hope to Rohit Sharma – the biggest hope of Indian cricket. Size, even if it is of hope, does matter.
Botha claimed Gambhir. There was a time when Botha used to lead South Africa in T20 cricket and I always wondered why– forget about captaincy, I couldn’t understand how Botha’s place was justified in the side. To me, he was nothing but an off spinner who could bowl yorkers. Well, he did get Gambhir out.
For a few moments, it looked like KKR might show us their true talent – that of pulling defeat from the jaws of victory.
Oh, they may well get the choking effect in operation tonight. After all, they have Kallis on their side is what I was thinking.
However, I forgot that to counter Kallis, DD had Botha in their side. In the fight of “who has more choking capabilities” between Kallis and Botha, Botha won. So did KKR.
The rest was routine – commentators asking people how good IPL is, SRK doing his tantrums in the pavilion and struggling actors cum TV anchors giving us gyan (knowledge) about cricket.
I was fast asleep even before post-match presentations began.
The razzmatazz has begun and it will continue for another month and a half, which sounds like an eternity.