Friday, November 13, 2020

IPL 2020 - Passing Thoughts

"It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair” - Nelson Mandela 

This can be said about the 2020 IPL also. In these most bizarre times, sport by itself does not mean much tangible – after all it does not provide a vaccine or make the virus magically go away but it provide a break from the mad news cycle and yes that tiny little flicker of happiness in these depressing times. Purely coincidental it may have been, and certainly there have been better, factors in play, but since the IPL began the graph of the number of daily cases has taken a downward turn. 

Thanks to entire organizing team, the players and all the support staff for providing this welcome distraction. It certainly looks a herculean task shifting the entire tournament outside with all the covid-19 restrictions in place. 

So just jotting down my thoughts about the events of the IPL 2020 both on & off the field. 

The old order changeth giving rise to new & the more things change the more they remain the same. Two contradictory themes yet both hold true in this IPL. 
  • The new boys made a name for themselves. An Indian uncapped XI can certainly hold its own in the international front. Hers is my pick for such a lineup - Paddikal, Gaikwad, Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Tewatia, Priyam Garg, Samad, Varun Chakravarthy, Natarajan, Bishnoi, Tyagi. Some of them are knocking on the India doors. 
  • Chennai Super Kings failed to make the play-offs for the first time; Delhi Capitals made the Final for the first time and Rajasthan Royals finished bottom of the league for the first time. 
  • Shane Watson bids farewell to the cricket – one of the true IPL heroes. Meanwhile Raina & Harbhajan skipped this year’s tournament. Not sure if we would see them again in the field. 
  • Aaron Finch played for his 8th IPL franchisee this season. Given his age looks set to be heading to CSK soon! 
  • Which brings us to CSK’s side. In this no IPL for old men, poor Sam Curran was given all the jobs, sometimes a finisher, opening the batting and the bowling and even death bowling! 
  • Same was the case of his English team-mate Jofra Archer, the tournament MVP. One end he was bowling thunderbolts and at the other end the likes of Unadkat, Aaron & Rajput leaking runs! 
  • Raw pace works best – Alongwith Archer the likes of Rabada, Nortje, Shami, Bumrah, Ferguson and Boult all made a mark. Especially heartening to see a couple of Indian names in this list. 
  • The Indian finishers are still missing. The big hitters are not consistent enough although the Pandya brothers, Axar and Jadeja do show some promise. 
  • However, we can put in a wicket-keepers top 6 –Rahul, Saha, Samson, Kishan, Pant & Karthik certainly makes for a power-packed lineup. 
  • Professional sport has fine margins – imagine Super Overs also not yielding results. And that short run called against Kings XI made a difference in them being knocked out. That’s an area where the 3rd umpire should take more initiative. Why have all the technology in place and not use it. Any on-field error which can be corrected by a single replay should be done so. 
  • New Zealand can now try using Lockie Ferguson instead of going to Southee for the Super Overs 
  • The new star - Rahul Tewatia who made completing seemingly impossible chases, not once but twice! 
  • The celebration - Thanks to Riyan Parag for making the Bihu dance mainstream. 
  • The new frontier - Chris Gayle was benched, then hospitalized, then batted at No. 3 and breached the mark of 1,000 T20 career sixes. Not for nothing he is the Universe Boss! 
  • What could have been – Ali Khan became the first USA player to be picked up by an IPL squad but then got injured without getting a game. 
  • What’s with the number of fantasy leagues & gaming apps mushrooming all over. While it is fun and in the legal grey area, the authorities need to be on high alert for keeping the corrupt in check. 
  • Finally, Rest In peace Professor Deano – the voice of the Select Dugout! His commentary will be missed 
There is now an IPL shaped void in the daily schedule. The Australia tour can’t come soon enough

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