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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cricket Getting The Better Of IPL-5!


Whatever it is, finally it’s genuine cricket that interests genuine cricket lovers. Let the cheerleaders of all hues and colors with dress or the lack of it dance on! Let the non-cricketing crowd gesticulate to their hearts content just to see themselves in those huge screens on the field! Let the glam-slam-bang lady commentators be a little too careless about their costumes! Let the noise as deafening as it can get! Let the ‘strategic’ breaks break the rhythm! From the comfort of your homes you can just mute it all and enjoy some cricket if any!

Hot and humid conditions at the start of the Indian summer are making the pitches a lot slower with the ball doing things. Therefore, despite all those debilitating restrictions on the bowlers run-making in this IPL-5 is getting very difficult, desperate at times. This version of the IPL has earned the distinction of having the largest number of low-scoring thrillers. With mere targets of just above 100 runs the chases have not been easy at all and most teams are failing to achieve taking the match to the last over or the very last ball. That’s cricket speaking—loud and clear.

And, you can see absolutely clearly who have all been performing well. They are all the correct and copybook cricket Test players like you name it. Rahul Dravid—who was dropped from the Indian one-day team on numerous occasions and was almost forced to retire from Test cricket—has been playing tremendous cricket with his younger teammates not able to capitalize on most of the times for Rajasthan Royals. Sachin Tendulkar, Chris Gayle, Brendon McCullam, AB de Villiers, Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag who became the first ever IPL player to score five consecutive half centuries, Ajikya Rahane, Saurav Ganguly to some extent as he has been losing steam of late and so on. You can point out maybe only one glorious exception in the form of Francois du Plessis who have made a dream IPL debut and still going strong. About the most successful bowlers you can find out yourselves.

This afternoon in Mumbai we watched a tremendous match of incredible cricket between Mumbai Indians (MI) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK). CSK made a very good total of 173 runs and chasing a target of 174 runs in 20 overs MI gave us all a real cricketing treat. Sachin Tendulkar, like the living cricketing legend that he is, excelled in his home ground with precise, power-packed and genuine cricketing shots all around the ground given able support by Rohit Sharma who is immensely elegant once settled in his rare batting form. The pair almost ensured victory with a century partnership when Tendulkar at 74 off 44 balls (11 fours and 1 six) fell to an incredible catch by de Plessis in the 16th over. Though the asking rate was still around 10 an over MI had 8 wickets left to notch up victory. But it was not to be.

Wickets kept on falling with some inspired bowling by Ravindra Jadeja. Finally at 158/7 MI needed 16 runs off the last over and most of MI supporters gave up hope at this stage. Next three balls—two runs and one wicket. 14 runs needed off the last three balls. Dwayne Smith playing first time for MI scored a six in the fourth ball, still 8 needed off two. Next ball—four! A classic situation of 4 runs needed off the very last ball. And, it was a screaming four and win! Smith was rightfully declared the player of the match. Australian pacer Hilfenhaus was at the receiving end with CSK and Team India skipper looking helpless. We heard, for the first time this IPL season, a chorus of huge cheers from our neighborhood. Those cheers were not that of mere MI supporters, but for some great cricket. Scorecard:

Cheers for just cricket!

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