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26 Apr 2010

DLF IPL 2010

Disclaimer: This is merely me wondering, not an accusation at or an aspersion I wish to cast on the league or the parties involved. 

Since the semis I have been wondering how real the IPL matches are. Chetan Bhagat's tweet a few days ago, that the IPL was the biggest reality show in India, rings in my head. None of these reality shows are real, are they? And so the IPL? 

Look at the way last years IPL champions played the semi-finals. It was as if they had no intentions of playing but it was a mere formality they were being put through. First with the Chennai Super Kings and then with the Royal Challengers Bangalore, the Deccan Chargers simply handed away the match to the opponents on a silver platter. I'm not complaining, I'm happy that RCB grabbed the third place in IPL3 and a chance to play in the Champions League, in South Africa, this September. Yet, I cannot help wondering if it did not come too easily to them. In IPL1, the RCB were one of the best teams on paper but failed miserably to perform. In IPL3, they are suddenly superstars! My mind asks questions. It is, obviously, not Mallya's KF beer that helped them but what about his treasury?

When I was chatting to a friend this morning, I said I was rooting for the Mumbai Indians but the CSK had a good chance to win too. He was a CSK supporter and insisted that the had to win. They have reached the semi-finals all 3 years and the finals twice. The moment he said that I knew that CSK would win this match.  He was right, they had to. They have been consistent in all the 3 IPLs. It was about time they won and then moved back in the line, like the Rajasthan Royals and the Deccan Chargers. The winners from IPL1 - Rajasthan Royals - have been buried (almost) without a trace. The winners from IPL2 are not performing anymore. Clearly, they are not being generous and giving everybody a chance to win, are they? That would be a really large-hearted gesture. I mean, there's a lot of money involved, not to mention the millions of pairs of eyes across the world following the league. 

Here's my cynical view of last night's IPL finals. CSK played like Kings, no doubt. They deserved the win every bit. What about the Mumbai Indians? Too many flaws from their side, even for a cricket-ignoramus like me. Every batsman on the CSK side played well. The MI dropped catches and played slack. While CSK maintained a fairly consistent run rate of 8.0 and surpassed their own planned target of 160 by 8 runs, MI seemed to be playing as if it did not matter whether they lost or won. Such a perfect score and such a perfect run rate. Just enough to leave the fans wondering, not enough to predict who might win. The perfect finals. Clash of the Titans. Sufficient scope for some nail-biting on both sides and give people value for their money. Brilliant!

When it was MI's turn to bat, CSK played a fantastic game. No catches dropped. Plenty of kamaal catches, in fact. MI seemed to be very relaxed, scoring real slow in the beginning and not really gaining momentum even in the later overs. Why? To beat a required 8.0 rpo, they started off with a meagre 4.0 rpo. Did they think they could outclass CSK eventually, somehow? Miracles in the last few overs? How can you count on that? Of all players that batted in the initial 10 overs, their captain Sachin Tendulkar, who braved an injury to play in the finals, fared better than most of the top order batsmen. In spite of losing wickets recklessly and moving up the score tally at an eerily slow pace, MI refused to send their star player Keiran Pollard on to the field! One batsman after another, some singles and doubles, a stray boundary here and a sixer there but no sign of Pollard. Whoa! 

One might think maybe they were saving him for the last. To perform some of the magic he has been, time and again, in this series. Yet, how many wickets were they planning to lose before they brought their magician out? At worst, he should have been on the ground right after MI lost Sachin. He should have knocked a few shots and stayed on as long as he could. Instead, he came out when they were far too many runs to score in too few deliveries. A brilliant 22 in his first over was not enough to save the game for the hosts. If he had remained there for the rest of the game and continued in the same vein, there may have been a ray of hope. However, that was not to be. Our man went down sooner than we could have afforded to lose him. 

One of the highlights of the game, for me, other than the superb performance by MSD's men in yellow, was the show of true team spirit by Ambati Rayudu of MI. In an earlier blog of mine, I spoke of how Kohli's stand to stay on and let RCB's Peterson go was in poor taste. Rayudu, in a repeat of that situation, sacrificed himself for the better man on the field, Pollard. Clap clap clap. 

Another thing that struck me was Sachin's comment, after collecting the Rs. 3 crores cheque for being the runner's up. He expressed being unhappy that Pollard was sent in to bad so late in the game, when it was too late to salvage any damage. Pollard's body language when he walked in, had clearly indicated that he was not too happy either. Interesting! While everyone complimented Dhoni on his amazing captaincy, especially the unusual fielding placement towards the later stage when Pollard started smashing the ball about, here was his counterpart who did not even seem to have had a say in the batting order of his men.

With all due respect to the fabulous game by all players, especially the wonderful fielding by CSK, I am not completely convinced that the outcome of the game was decided even before the two teams stepped out into the field. I may be wrong and I hope I am but the masala in the last few matches, predominantly in the finals was too perfect to be real. Sigh!

Question: What was Lalit Modi upto, rambling about the muck he and the non-cricketing fraternity of IPL were involved in, in the speech for the award ceremony of the IPL finals? Totally uncalled for! Bad bad bad.

Quote: The studio host made a comment about the little pocket of sunshine amidst the vast cloud of blue shining the brightest in the end. I wish I could quote him here but I can't remember the exact words. His reference was to the little support CSK received against the huge crowd of fans in blue, at the staduim.

Scores: The 2010 DLF IPL Finals, played at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai, CSK Vs MI

Chennai Super Kings168-5 (20)RunsBalls4s6sSR 
M Vijayc Tiwary b Fernando261912136.84
M Haydenc Rayudu b Pollard17311154.84
S Rainanot out573533162.86
S Badrinathc Malinga b Fernando141120127.27
*MS Dhonic Fernando b Z Khan221521146.67
A Morkelrun out (Rayudu)15611250.00
S Anirudhanot out6310200.00
D Bollinger
S Jakati
M Muralitharan
R Ashwin

Extras: 11 b:0 lb:3 nb:0 w:8
Total: 168-5 (20) | Curr. RR: 8.40
FOW:M Vijay (44-1, 7.2), M Hayden (47-2, 8.4), S Badrinath (67-3, 11.2), *MS Dhoni (139-4, 17.1), A Morkel (157-5, 19.3)
Mumbai IndiansOMRWNbWdRPO 
Harbhajan Singh40300007.50
L Malinga40330018.25
Z Khan40341018.50
D Fernando40232025.75
K Pollard404510011.25
Mumbai Indians team: Harbhajan Singh, L Malinga, Z Khan, D Fernando, K Pollard, JP Duminy, A Nayar, S Dhawan, *S Tendulkar, S Tiwary, A Rayudu
Powerplay: 1: 1-6 ovs

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