IPL 2014 COMES TO AN END
Every year as the IPL ends, silence arrives as one is still in the daily buzz of the IPL which occupies a span of almost two months. The International stars that play throughout the year against each other amalgamate for two months and play for each other and vice versa. And this was the year when the mega-auction of IPL happened, which is scheduled after every three years; some teams went through massive changes. Before IPL season 7 started, I just couldn’t get over the delight that Brendon McCullum, who some months earlier did not allow MS Dhoni to break his overseas test losing streak when he batted for two days, will now be playing with MS in the same team. The fact that David Miller, the lone warrior for KXIP, will now be also joined by Glenn Maxwell, George Bailey and Mitchell Johnson was itself huge. And that Kevin Pietersen will be playing full time IPL, with not worrying about ECB, was another plus. IPL went to the UAE and spot fixing controversy was also running in the background. Well in the end, unexpectedly KKR won, and all excitements have been had. This season of IPL has also passed. Every year I write down this piece on how the IPL fared for me as a distant viewer and follower of the tournament.
Quality of Cricket & Matches:
I still believe that IPL season 5 consisted of the most closely fought matches ever seen in any tournament. Almost every second match of IPL 2012 went till the last over and almost every fifth match till the last ball. This time there were close matches, but one sided affairs were more a norm. The quality of Cricket witnessed was average, particularly competitive death bowling, which was virtually non-existent. Though there were some brilliant catches taken, but fielding at occasions was awful. Hard hitters like Maxwell and Pathan took full toll of those missed chances and guided their respective teams to the finals.
When IPL began in 2008, most of the owners were unsure which player to buy. As a result, I remember players like Ricky Ponting, Salman Butt, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, VVS Laxman, Nuwan Zoysa, Wasim Jaffer and Younis Khan got fair deals and picked up by various franchises. These decisions turned out to be ugly as these players were never suited to the format. But at that time, T20 was relatively new to everyone and this was the first tournament of its kind. Everyone was confused whether to pick players on their International reputation or their T20 performances. T20 was just establishing its roots so there were no other well reputed T20 tournaments to seriously look up to and just one WT20 had been played. And hence the owners had no other option but to go with International reputation. But today, there are so many measurements to the ability of a player if he can perform in T20s. There are the domestic T20 tournaments, Twenty20 Internationals and moreover, there is a WT20 which also now has developed its own history.
The owners and their respective selectors have now sharpened their selection skills. And with people like Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman in their fold, they are able to make much wiser decisions. As a result, for the first time in IPL, I hardly saw a single player in any team who wasn’t suited to the format. Probably one can argue about Cheteshwar Pujara, but other than that, there was hardly any. Particularly International players were selected so carefully depicting that margins of errors have reduced significantly.
The biggest International highlight of this IPL was none other than Glenn Maxwell i.e. “The Big Show”. He started the tournament virtually trying to hit every ball out of the park without a single failure in his first four innings. Although that form dipped significantly during the ending stages of the season, but this season will always be remembered as the IPL in which Maxwell announced himself. He with Miller formed the lethal partnership, popularly known as M&M.
Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum have always been considered dangerous but both have been inconsistent throughout their careers. And I have mentioned it before as well that MS somehow finds consistency among the most inconsistent players when they play for CSK. The same happened again, Smith and McCullum partnership turned out to be the most perilous opening stand in IPL which single handedly won games for CSK.
Apart from these, IPL had his usual ingredient of the silent killer, Sunil Narine. The guy continues to amaze of his extreme calmness in the most tensed situation. But surprisingly, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Robin Uthappa ended as the purple and orange cap holders respectively. Apart from these, surprise packages of Virender Sehwag, Lendl Simmons, JP Dumminy, AB de Villiers and Mitchell Starc were also seen. Yuvraj Singh also showed some glimpses of his golden era in the second phase of the season.
Chris Gayle, Kevin Pietersen and Dale Steyn, the players who were the biggest International stars this time around, were the biggest let downs of IPL season 7 when it ended. Although Steyn picked up one Man of the Match award, but he wasn’t nearly his lethal best where a player of his caliber is expected to win at least 3 matches on his own out of the 14 to be played. Gayle started slowly every time he went out to bat for RCB, always putting other batters to follow under pressure from the beginning and KP was a member of a spineless team which may have also hampered his own confidence. Amit Mishra and Murali Vijay were the biggest disappointments from the Indian lot.
Teams Which Should Have Made It:
It continues to baffle me that a team consisting of Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers couldn’t make it to the playoffs for the third consecutive year. This time RCB also had Yuvraj Singh, who also came to form during the latter stages of the tournament and their bowling was strengthened with the addition of Mitchell Starc, Albie Morkel and youngster Yuzvendra Chahal. Yet they couldn’t make it to the playoffs.
The other team which should have made it to the next round was none other than Shane Watson’s RR and they have no one to blame but their over confident management who dropped anchor when they had to win two out of their last five matches making unnecessary changes in the playing XI, batting order, bowling order and even the wicket keeper. Probably we might never know who the culprit was, but a lesson has been learnt the hard way which is, “You’ve never made it, until you’ve really made it.”
Last year I supported Pune Warriors which went pretty bizarre. However, this time around I supported Kings XI Punjab even before the tournament started so that went pretty well.
And with this last post regarding IPL season 7, it finally comes to an end for me. Till next year, its goodbye to it and I hope again that next year it becomes even bigger with Pakistani players included.
This article has been written by Nix. He also has a blog: cricnix.wordpress.com. He tweets @nabilzcricnix