More than two weeks into the tournament, suddenly a section has started taking offence. Media houses have decided to boycott IPL coverage citing its timing, people are calling it names. The opinion from the other side of the room is that it provides a much-needed distraction in these testing times. I have a few things to add to that narrative which I have done further into the article. While I am all for the IPL, I definitely believe that the BCCI and the IPL governing council should show a lot more solidarity than they are and most certainly contribute financially towards the fight against the pandemic as well.

"More than two weeks into the tournament, suddenly a section has started taking offence. Media houses have decided to boycott IPL coverage citing its timing, people are calling it names.…"

Now that the elephant in the room has been addressed, let’s get into the details of the week that seems to have flown by. It saw the first super over of this season and a superhuman effort from Sir. Let us dig into my Hits and Misses of the week.

HITS OF THE WEEK 

1. The leggies shine:

T20 cricket in general and the IPL, in particular, has been a brilliant canvas for the art of leg spin bowling. That is why it comes as a surprise when teams decide to leave these artists out of the eleven. Amit Mishra, who is the second highest wicket-taker in IPL history and Ravi Bishnoi, who had a brilliant 2020 were both left out of the elevens of DC and PBKS respectively. However, when they were drafted in, they made the team think tank eat humble pie. Mishra started with a match-winning 4/24 against MI and Bishnoi’s 2/21 against the same team was instrumental in PBKS winning the game as well.

2. CSK hitting the top note:

When Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis came out to bat against KKR, they both needed a fillip with the former actually needing a lifeline to stay in the eleven. And they responded with a blistering 115-run partnership with du Plessis scoring an unbeaten 95 to take CSK to a huge total. The pair followed it up with a 74-run opening stand in the next game. From what we have seen in the last season, Gaikwad is a player who exploits good form; and don’t be surprised if you see him score a lot of runs from now on. CSK have started hitting the right notes at the top.

3. KKR’s impossible run-chase – Almost:

When Gaikwad and du Plessis powered CSK to 220, KKR fans still had hope as it was Wankhede and chasing had been easier there. But Chahar produced another seam and swing bowling masterclass, his second in 5 days, to reduce KKR to 31/4 and with Ngidi picking one more, KKR were done and dusted at 31/5 inside the powerplay. What happened next was unbelievable. Russell and Karthik added 81 runs in the next 6 overs to give them hope. Russell fell and it seemed to be all over but then Cummins came out with a mission to go one up on Russell and when he took Curran for 30 runs in the 16th over, KKR had a realistic chance with 45 needed off 24. However, good death bowling and wickets crumbling at the other end meant that Cummins and Russell’s blistering fifties weren’t enough to take KKR home.

Devdutt Padikkal century
Devdutt Padikkal celebrates after scoring a hundred against Rajasthan Royals at the Wankhede.

4. Padikkal-Kohli Show:

178 is never a big target at Wankhede. However, you always need a good start. RCB needed that as a team and Kohli and Padikkal needed runs for themselves as well. Kohli’s intentions were clear in the first over itself when he slammed Gopal for a six but then Padikkal took over. He was due for runs and he started hitting boundaries at will. Kohli decidedly took the backseat as the boundaries got converted into sixes, and big ones at that. Kohli found his rhythm as well and the duo made mincemeat of the bowling. An unbeaten fifty from him and a maiden IPL hundred from Padikkal set up a 10-wicket win.

5. They call him Sir for a reason:

CSK coasting along at 111/1. Purple cap holder, Harshal Patel chips in with key wickets of Raina and du Plessis and follows it up with Rayudu’s wicket in the 18th over. At 154 after 19 overs and Harshal to bowl, a final score of 165 at best was on the cards. 6, 6, 6+nb, 6, 2, 6, 4.

That is what Jadeja did to Harshal in the last over and with 37 runs from it, CSK’s score rocketed to 191. RCB were in the hunt at 54/2 in 5 overs and with Maxwell and de Villiers to follow. Enter Jadeja. He removed Sundar, Maxwell and de Villiers in 3 successive overs and effected a brilliant direct hit to get Christian out in between, thus, taking all steam out of the RCB run-chase. They fell short by 69 runs in the end and it was all done by Sir Ravindra Jadeja.

Ravindra-Jadeja CSK
Ravindra Jadeja celebrates the wicket of RCB’s Washington Sundar

MISSES OF THE WEEK

1. Wet ball-Dry ball:

Chasing 189 to win, RR were in the hunt with Buttler leading the charge. The dew had set in and the CSK bowlers were finding it tough as the wet ball was tough to grip. That’s when Jadeja bowled a short ball which was dispatched way into the mid-wicket stands by Buttler. The ball had to be changed and after a tidy over from Bravo, Jadeja got the dry ball to turn and got rid of Buttler and then Dube in the same over. Dhoni saw the change in behaviour and got in Moeen Ali from the other end. He picked up 3 wickets in his next 2 overs and the two spinners finished with 5/35 in 7 overs. While it was a brilliant performance by the duo, it is a miss of the week because such radical change in the behaviour of the ball really dents the balance of the game and in dewy conditions, the governing council really needs to come up with a solution.

2. MI fails to deliver – again:

This has just not been their year, at least so far. If the finishing of Mumbai Indians was poor in the first week, it only went from bad to worse. Getting scores of 137 and 131 in the two games this week despite Rohit Sharma getting runs at the top is unpardonable. While the inability to finish well did not cost them games in the first week (they won 2 out of 3), it has been the cause of two humbling defeats this week. The double defending champions need to buckle up.

3. Captain Morgan struggling:

Much like the last few seasons, KKR have just not found their tuning right. This season they started well and showed promise before starting to capitulate like only they are capable of. One of the biggest causes of concern for them has been the form of their skipper. He took over mid-way last season and it was expected that he will fare better knowing that he is at the helm right from the word go but with 45 runs in 5 matches and some questionable tactical decisions, Morgan, much like KKR is gasping for breath. A whiff of fresh air is what they need.

4. The Super Over:

There is always euphoria around a super over. However, the first one of 2021 seemed like a no-event. Chasing 160 against DC, SRH turned things around in the run-chase thanks to Kane Williamson’s unbeaten fifty. A couple of boundaries in the 19th over from Suchith left 16 off the last over and he followed up Williamson’s boundary in the 20th with a six as SRH tied the game. The reaction of everybody was nothing close to what we have seen in tied games so far in the IPL. Even the commentators did not seem excited. It was as if they had pre-empted the dud that the super over was going to be. Yes, it was probably one of the most boring super overs I have seen.

Delhi SRH Super Over
Kane Williamson plays a reverse sweep during the match against Delhi Capitals.

5. IPL – The soft target:

So, people are critical about the IPL going on amidst the pandemic. Those in the defense are terming it as a respite from the grim news that they see all day. My view in addition to that is IPL feeds lakhs of people. While people are losing jobs and taking pay cuts, here is a system that is employing lakhs, not just the biggies who are directly working on ground but also people like yours truly who would have been out of work had it not been for the IPL at this time. As far as not covering the league on humanitarian grounds is concerned, my question is, covering gossip, Kumbh Mela and the election rallies is okay to you? And what about the flashing ads that you run which cover almost, in some cases more than 50%, of your publication? It is appalling that people are not ready to ask the right questions to the right people.

On the other hand, the BCCI, as I mentioned earlier, needs to acknowledge the mayhem happening outside the IPL bubble. The initial steps have already been taken it seems. The Sunday coverage had awareness messages at important times during the match, the toss and strategic time out for example. Time to step it up, perhaps.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are the author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)

Coincidentally, minutes after this story was published, Pat Cummins took to Twitter to announce that he has donated $50000 towards the PM Cares fund specifically to purchase oxygen supplies for hospitals in India. He has also urged his fellow cricketers and anybody in general to contribute. This could be the beginning of a Domino Effect.

Read | Fear Factor At IPL: Players Withdraw From League As COVID Cases Surge In India; BCCI Says Event Will Continue

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