IPL 2020 Highlights: Recalling Vintage Tendulkar!

 


After getting over with IPL 2020 played to empty stadiums of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, and the rather loud virtual audios continuously fed in perhaps to enthuse television viewers, some of the true cricketing elements are catching our attention in all of their elegance or the lack of it. Last evening while watching the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) Vs Chennai Super Kings (CSK) duel in Dubai, the passionate display of India captain and RCB captain Virat Kohli somehow reminded me of cricket’s living legend Sachin Tendulkar in his evergreen one-day international innings, famous as ‘desert storm’, against Australia in Sharjah under the Coca Cola triangular cup in 1998. The images of the two greats got somehow juxtaposed: Kohli, with his team in a precarious state batting first, running like a hare, desperate for every single run, diving and rolling over on the ground, his spectacular shots all around the park in the most visible display of controlled aggression to his crucial 77 not out innings; and Tendulkar, with a bigger national mission to see India through to the final, covered with dirt from head to foot, running like the blood hound thirsty for runs, falling and tumbling on the ground, his roaring boundaries and sixes and to that definitive 143-run innings.

 

Sachin Tendulkar ensured India’s entry into the final at a better net run-rate over New Zealand, also made sure India win the final against Australia with another superlative century knock of 134 and deservedly going on to win the Player-of-the-Series award. Last night Viral Kohli also ensured a win for his team, and from here how he goes about in the coming matches is to be seen. Although the comparison may not be justified considering the stakes, it came to my mind spontaneously, obviously for the cricketing delights, brilliance and the spirit of competition.

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Coming to the vanquished team last evening, CSK is not performing to its potential so far in IPL 2020. The main reason being the MS Dhoni syndrome: he is no longer the revved finisher by way of his performances in the last two years including that of the ICC Cricket World Cup-2019. In fact, as I maintained earlier, his selection in the World Cup team thanks to his experience was a huge mistake leading the team to absurdities with four wicket-keepers in the playing eleven several times, and his performance very predictable, struggling even for singles and the big shots entirely missing. Therefore, his being still the captain of CSK along with several veterans like him in the team makes it very difficult for his team to fight competitively. Only expert wicket-keeping cannot inspire a team, Dhoni will have to re-discover his shots to lead the team from the front, much sooner than later, as CSK has lost five of its seven games and cannot afford to lose any more to remain in contention.

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The biggest and the most lamentable surprise of IPL 2020 so far is Chris Gayle, who has been rested in all the seven matches played by Kings Eleven Punjab (KXIP), is reportedly suffering from sickness, the latest of which being food poisoning. He continues to be rested despite Nicholas Pooran and Glen Maxwell doing almost nothing for the team. It seems too late now for a re-think, because KXIP is virtually out of the tournament losing six of the seven games. Ironically, the team showed a lot of promise from the beginning despite losing its first match that should have been won comfortably. The main reason for its poor performance is as much inadequate cricketing application as bits of pure bad luck.

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Another highlight of IPL 2020 has been the captivating performance of Delhi Capitals (DC) who are sitting pretty at the top of the points table with 10 points at the moment. This is in sharp contrast to the lackadaisical performances of its earlier avatar Delhi Daredevils throughout the IPL versions. Under a performing leader Shreyas Iyer, ably backed by national and international players, DC is set to give the toughest competition to its rivals.

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Even though Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) has started with its Karthik-Russel hangover of last year it has somehow managed to show its grit in winning four of the six games played so far, and is currently in the third position on the points table. While Russel is yet to show his muscle Karthik has played only one solid match-winning knock so far. Both of them must deliver on the field if KKR were to be victorious for the third time after 2012 and 2014.

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Defending champions and four-time winners, Mumbai Indians (MI) has been progressing steadily winning four of their six games. With captain Rohit Sharma in full form and star players like Jasprit Bumrah, Pandya Brothers, Trent Boult and so on MI is always on the rudder for its potential foray into the play-offs. Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rajasthan Royals, in the 5th and 7th position respectively, are volatile as always, and can make a comeback from any situation. IPL 2020 is set to go on giving the cricketing highlights as it unfolds further, for sure.

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