Team India Specials

Showstoppers of an enthralling weekend

Monday, April 20, 2022
Ganesh Iyer

Cape Town: So after all the ‘will it-won’t it’, the Indian Premier League 2009 finally took off – even if it wasn’t actually played in India. Even if the tournament didn’t get off to a dashing start – like the IPL 2008 did, it certainly lived up to the expectations of all the hype built around it.

Here are some of my notes from the first two days of Season II:

Lessons from the weekend:
Lesson 1 – ‘Is Twenty20 a young man’s game?’

The Indian Premier League started on foreign soil with an explosion of entertainment and two cricket upsets at Newlands Saturday. © AFP
Though Twenty20 has been branded a young man’s game, it was the veterans who did all the damage over the weekend. Starting Tendulkar’s 59, which was the foundation of Mumbai Indians’ 19-runs win over last year’s losing finalist Chennai Super Kings. Though the Little Master wasn’t as fluent as he was on the recent tour of New Zealand, he still battled hard, conquered the conditions and carried his bat through the innings.

In the second match on Saturday, 36-year old Rahul Dravid played perhaps one of the most technically correct innings in Twenty20 cricket. There were no cross batted heaves, no improvisation – it was cricket played the conventional way – but he still ended up being top scorer in the match and helped his team register a comfortable 75-run win over defending champions Rajasthan Royals.

In the same match, two veteran leg spinners – who between them have in excess of 1300 wickets in Test cricket – and are both happily retired from international cricket, mesmerized batsmen in the opposition ranks. Warne was sensational as ever – with a whole lot of variety, including variety in the degree the ball turned, while Kumble was the same old bowler of old – spot on from the word go, and rushing the ball through to the batsmen. His spell of 5 for 5 is the most economical five-fer in the brief history of Twenty20 cricket.

The Indian Premier League started on foreign soil with an explosion of entertainment and two cricket upsets at Newlands Saturday. © AFP
Lesson II – T20 is not all about pace

On the evidence of what one got to see on the first two days of the IPL 2009, spinners are going to play a huge role in the tournament.

Apart from Warne and Kumble – about whom a lot has already written, there were also Daniel Vettori, Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha, who got a lot of purchase from the track and bowled very tidily. At the end of the first four games, the economy rate of spinners is 5.83, while pace bowlers have leaked runs at the rate of 7.12 runs per over.

Lesson III – Don’t aim for the moon

A South African grounds staff member covers herself under a plastic sheet prior to the start of the IPL Twenty20 match between Delhi Daredevils and Punjab Kings XI at The Newlands Cricket Stadium in Cape Town on Sunday © AFP
The first season of the IPL saw 11 scores of over 200. But on the evidence of what one got to see on the first couple of days and based on the fact that this is the fag end of the cricket season in South Africa, one can expect plenty more surfaces which are slow and low and make strokeplay difficult. So teams will do well to revise their targets to around 140 instead of targeting 180 or 190 and find themselves in difficulty. Furthermore, as I write this piece, I’ve just worked out the average first innings score for Port Elizabeth – where RCB are due to take on CSK later tonight – which is an incredible 125! Coaches, take note.

Quote of the weekend:
‘I declare the opening ceremony open.’
- Lalit Modi at the opening ceremony of the IPL Season-2.

Action of the weekend:
- Rohit Sharma’s sensational run out of Ajit Agarkar on Sunday.

Bowling spell of the weekend:
- A tough choice between Fidel Edwards’ spell of 4-1-6-0 and Shane
Warne’s magical spell of leg spin bowling on day one. But Warne’s spell of 4-0-18-2 takes the honours for one simple reason - it was a treat to watch.

Preity Zinta cheers for her team © AFP
Cameo of the weekend:
- Abhishek Nayar’s 14-ball 35 on the opening day of the competition –
which included three sixes off Andrew Flintoff – which was probably the innings that helped Mumbai Indians win their opening match.

Dampner of the weekend:
- The floodlights failure prior to the start of the second match on
Sunday. With rain already playing hide and seek and throwing the schedule haywire, the last thing one wanted was a 40-minute delay because of floodlight failure.