The second edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has been about much more than just Twenty20 cricket. Controversy dogged the tournament. If cheerleaders were the hot potato last year, it was security this time. The IPL was relocated to South Africa just in time to lose a few matches to rain. And then everyone, except Shah Rukh Khan’s Knights, began to play cricket. A pitch-invading dog, an undercover blog and strategic timeouts ensured the IPL stayed in the news for good reasons and bad. Now, with 57 matches behind us and just two to go, six fans look back at the best, worst and most bizarre moments of IPL 2009
Top 5 | Veteran Players
By Srinivas Bhogle
1 Matthew Hayden: The hallmark of Hayden’s career has been very long runs of good form. Once he hits two or three 50s, Hayden just keeps on going. This IPL has been very good for veterans like him who are playing for pride as well as the money involved. If Sachin Tendulkar has three shots for every ball, Hayden probably has at least two. The grounds and the fielding restrictions in the early overs allow players like him to break free.
2 Adam Gilchrist: Like Hayden, Gilchrist too is motivated by the need to play well in the latter half of his career. He has been scoring at a very good pace, especially capitalizing in the first four or five overs. The format is also suited to him at this stage in his career. If he knew he had to come back and bat again, as in a Test match, I doubt if he’d be so lethal.
3 Sachin Tendulkar:Tendulkar is one of those players who has done better this season than in the last one (when he was injured). In addition, last year, he had an entire season ahead after the IPL, which probably explains his performance. This year, he was fit and played like someone who wanted to prove a thing or two on the field. Unfortunately, his performance was marred by his below par captaincy.
4 Shane Warne: Warne’s bowling actually improved, though he was quite good last time too. Also, he single- handedly managed a team that had hardly any match- winners. Shane Watson and Sohail Tanvir— both were superb last year—didn’t play this year. But Warne was flexible and had clearly worked hard with Munaf Patel.
Shane Warne. Mike Hutchings / Reuters
5 Sanath Jayasuriya: Jayasuriya would have done even better if Tendulkar had given him a few more chances to bowl. Every team this year was looking for a good left-arm spinner. So Jayasuriya should have been utilized more. The moment he takes a few wickets, you can see the gleam in his eyes. This would have had a positive impact on his batting too. His scoring rate was lower this season, but he still made an impact.
As told to Sidin Vadukut. Srinivas Bhogle heads the Bangalore Centre of TEOCO Software Pvt. Ltd.
Top 5 | New Talent
By Aakash Chopra
1 Shadab Jakati: In his first opportunity to play in the big league, Jakati has really been up to the challenge. He has been playing for Goa for a while and has never had to play in an IPL kind of environment. But he stood up for himself, displayed a good attitude and always looked like he would take wickets. He played well in his first two IPL matches, taking four wickets in each.
2 Sudeep Tyagi: Tyagi missed last year’s edition because of injury, paving the way for M.S. Goni. But this year, he is fit and overcame a less-than-outstanding first-class season. Tyagi did not look out of place, and his deliveries were very good, both off the track and in the air. Extremely good for a 21-year-old player.
3 Tirumalasetti Suman: He started his last domestic season with a string of ducks. But since then he has changed his game to suit the T20 format. Suman’s off-spin bowling, too, has been good and he hasn’t been affected by people threatening to go after him. He is still young, and needs to learn how to build an innings with the bat. He did get out looking very silly once or twice.
4 Pradeep Sangwan: Sangwan has done extremely well for someone not centrally contracted by the Board of Control for Cricket in India and not even in the India A side. Currently he is among the top wicket takers, managing to hold on to a slot in a team with Dirk Nannes, Glenn McGrath and Aavishkar Salvi. Sangwan has taken wickets at crucial times.
5 Abhishek Nayar: Nayar is not as new as the others on this list. He did well last year too. But this year he really proved himself, often being the Mumbai Indians’ saving grace. He also bowled a few crucial overs. According to me, Nayar was one of the better performers in IPL 2.
Abhishek Nayar. Manan Vatsyayana / AFP
As told to Sidin Vadukut. Aakash Chopra has played 10 international Test matches for India and is also a television commentator
Top 5 | Disappointing Performances
By Dileep Premachandran
1 Andrew Flintoff: Made no impact in three games before that fragile body broke down. Worst economy rate of any frontline bowler in this year’s tournament.
2 Kevin Pietersen: When you shell out that kind of money on a player, $1.55 million (around Rs7.75 crore), you expect more than 93 runs in six innings from him. The Challengers revived after he left.
3 Graeme Smith: South Africa’s Captain Courageous averaged less than 20 and scored at less than a run a ball. No wonder, the Rajasthan Royals weren’t able to repeat last year’s success.
4 Sanath Jayasuriya: Hardly any repeat of his 2008 heroics. Failure to combine with Tendulkar summed up the Mumbai Indians’ woes.
5 Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir: India’s first-choice opening combination has been a disaster. That Delhi is at the top of the table is testament to the team’s all-round strength. It has?nothing?to do with its openers.
Dileep Premachandran is associate editor of Cricinfo.
Top 5 | Bizarre Moments
By Arnab Ray
1 Fake IPL Player: A true music lover is one who when he hears a lady singing in the shower, puts his ear, not eye, to the keyhole. A true cricket lover, similarly, is one who wants to know news both off the field and on it. The anonymous blog provided us many a moment of pleasure during IPL 2. Warning: Ratting on colleagues is not cricket. It is even better.
2 Warne sipping beer: Shane Warne was seen sharing a beer with a member of the crowd, setting a new standard for player-crowd interaction after Inzamam-ul-Haq, many summers ago, rushed into the stands brandishing a bat. And to those worried about a breach in the International Cricket Council Code of Conduct: Aare bhai, thodi si jo pee li hai, chori to nahin ki hai.
3 Sreesanth sending off Hayden: If you ever wished to see the army of Burkina Faso going eyeball-to-eyeball with the US armed forces, you needed to see Sreesanth vs Hayden. And, if you wanted to show someone what chutzpah is, all you needed was a link to the video of Sreesanth giving Hayden a heavy verbal send-off after Hayden, in that very over, had blasted him for three sixes.
4 Shilpa Shetty praying: God may have made the world in six days and turned water to wine, but even these feats pale in comparison with what He did for his true bhakt (devotee) Shetty— made her the winner of Big Brother, got her a honorary PhD for “making a difference to society”, and then made Munaf Patel bowl a last over against the Indians where he gave away just one run.
Shilpa Shetty. Manan Vatsyayana / AFP
5 Citi moment of disaster: Robin Jackman totally DLF-ed his way to fame when instead of the canned “Citi moment of success”, he slipped out a “Citi moment of disaster” when a catch went to ground. Which, when one thinks about it, is truly the most ironic corporate metaphor ever used during IPL commentary. Now, can someone please get Jackman a bailout package? And file a Chapter 11 on Rameez Raja while they are at it?
Arnab Ray blogs at Greatbong.net. His forthcoming book May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss is being published by HarperCollins
Top 5 | Players who should have played Twenty20
By Niranjan Rajadhyaksha
1 Gary Sobers: No other cricketer in history was blessed with his blend of batting, bowling and fielding skills. Sobers would be an interesting test case on how much genuine cricketing skills matter in T20.
2 Vivian Richards: He was the most destructive batsman of the modern era. The imperious front foot play, and the haughty hooking and cutting would bring T20 bowlers to their knees.
3 Kapil Dev: Though he was just one of a fantastic quartet of all-rounder peers—the other three being Ian Botham, Imran Khan and Richard Hadlee—we suspect he would have adjusted his game better to the needs of T20, and was also the best batsman and fielder of the lot.
4 Joel Garner: His nagging accuracy, ability to move the ball both ways, and his height made him very difficult to score off. Anybody who has seen recordings of him scythe through the English lower order in the 1979 World Cup finals will know what we are talking about.
5 Dean Jones: He set new benchmarks for fast scoring before the era of Tendulkar, Jayasuriya and Pietersen. He was quick as lightning between the wickets, and an electrifying fielder. Not in the same talent class as the other four, and thus an unusual choice.
Niranjan Rajadhyaksha is Mint’s managing editor.
The Lounge 5
After keeping both eyes glued to the cricket, and then some, these are five of our resident expert’s favourite IPL things
By Sidin Vadukut
1 Deccan Chargers cheerleaders
The Chargers really upped their game this season, but that’s nothing in comparison to how their dancing girls stole our hearts, minds and hard drive space. Like Yuvraj Singh, we can say without hesitation that the ladies in their white T-shirts and short skirts gave fans of all teams reason to cheer every Charger boundary and wicket. The camera angles deserve special mention.
2 The canine star
Photo: Mike Hutchings / Reuters
Perhaps you will spot the irony here. During the first match of IPL 2, which was moved to South Africa for security reasons, a fleet-footed foxhound casually wandered on to the ground at Cape Town.?After getting perilously close to M.S. Dhoni, it went on to produce several moments of mirth for the audience while the staff chased it around the ground. We will not forget the full-body dive a member of the ground staff pulled off any time soon.
3 Gaurav Kapoor
Amid a roster of boring, repetitive cricket pundits, Kapoor charmed. He brought some welcome MTV cool to the studio and ground-side interviews and didn’t sound like a complete celebrity nincompoop when he had to make the stray cricketing statement. And all that without wearing off-shoulder dresses or screaming rubbish into the mike like a banshee.
Will the IPL irony never end? A mobile phone company decided to promote its services by using white, big-headed humanoids whose voices are completely inaudible. The Zoozoos became a hit online and offline. The competition’s insipid advertising only helped make the lovable lemmings more popular. Case in point: Aircel’s Dhoni wants you to win a CD of his collection of love songs. Gag.
5 That trumpet sound
At first nobody at home knew what it was. A sudden burst of trumpet music, three notes long, would fill the stadium and the crowd would cheer loudly. Later, it was revealed that the sound was being played by one of the live DJs at each venue. The tune was addictive and helped keep the crowd—yes, even those watching on TV—going during those rare boring bits in each match.