The Best IPL Ever
With its mix of Indian and international talent, this has been the best IPL ever
By [/home/search.html?s=&authornamef=Palash+Krishna+Mehrotra Palash Krishna Mehrotra]
Published: 02:43 BST, 1 June 2014 | Updated: 02:43 BST, 1 June 2014
[ ] [ ] [ ] </a> [/indiahome/indianews/article-2644904/With-mix-Indian-international-talent-best-IPL-ever.html#comments
comments] This edition of the IPL, the seventh, has been one of the best.
In the early days of the league, teams spent big money on acquiring retired legends of the game.
The presence of over-the-hill stars lowered the quality of the cricket.
Joy: The intensity even in 45-degree heat made this IPL a joy to watch
As the league has evolved, team managements have gone in more for a mix of current talent, both Indian and international.
The results are there to see.
Competition has been intense.
The fielding has been spectacular.
We've seen acrobatic one-handed catches on the boundary line, and tremendous diving saves.
Young players with a point to prove have thrown themselves selflessly at the ball even in 45-plus temperatures.
There have been bleeding knees and elbows; Faf du Plessi admitted to his body being covered in 'grass-burns'.
Even in the eliminator on Friday, what took Kings XI Punjab into today's finals was their fielding (besides Sehwag's century, of course).
In a match that saw more than 400 runs being scored, it was captain George Bailey's run-out of the raging Raina, which marked the turning point.
On a dead track, it was fielding that created the only chances.
IPL 7 had a quiet beginning in the UAE, with the lively green pitch at Abu Dhabi providing the surprise factor.
There was bounce and pace and, typically, Indian batsmen struggled.
Gautam Gambhir scored three ducks in a row, and matches were, on the whole, low scoring.
The run-feast resumed once the league returned to flat-track India.
The most expensive players in the auction, like Chris Gayle and Yuvraj Singh, failed to perform to potential.
But Glenn Maxwell was a storm to reckon with from the word go.
One sat back and admired the maturity and balance of 20-year-old Manan-Vohra, and the sheer fluency of Robin Uthappa's effervescent batting.
In the early days of T20 cricket it was believed that bowlers, especially spinners, would be the casualty, that they would be ground into the dust in a format tailormade for big hitting.
This hasn't been the case.
The preferred strategy of medium pacers has been to take the pace off the ball, their chief weapon being the slower ball, which has a back-of-the-hand release.
High spirits: Preity Zinta, co-owner of Kings XI Punjab cheers her team during an IPL 7 match against Sunrisers Hyderabad
Mohit Sharma impressed everyone with his McGrath-like consistency and changes of pace.
Bhuvaneshwar Kumar's accuracy and control, Sandeep Sharma's swing, Varun Aaron's raw pace, and tall Ishwar Pandey's ability to extract bounce have been the highlights amongst Indian pacers.
Young Jasprit Bhumrah, who made his debut for Mumbai Indians last year, continued to confound batsmen with his unconventional action - his right arm remains as straight as a railway track during release.
The spinners were often the match winners, taking vital wickets when needed and stemming the pace of scoring. Imran Tahir, Sunil Narine, Yuzvendra Chahal, Akshar Patel, Parvez Rasool (the only player from Kashmir), Karanveer Singh, and of course Pravin Tambe, famously plucked from obscurity at the age of 41 by Rajasthan Royals, were all vital to their team's fortunes in the competition.
Run machine Maxwell became leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal's bunny, falling to him five times in a row.
It was heartening to see Harbhajan Singh get back to attacking ways, often bowling with a first slip in place. In the gentleman's game, received wisdom dictates that one should always let the ball or the bat do the talking.
The IPL saw a football-style combative aggression on display.
Virat Kohli got into animated arguments with umpires, and protested decisions.
Mitchell Starc deliberately aimed an unplayable full toss at Kieron Pollard's body, prompting him to throw down his bat in disgust.
Bumrah gave send-offs to the senior pros, clapping and mouthing words at them as they walked back after getting out.
Even the calm-as-Lake-Placid Rahul Dravid, wiki.darkwind.org sitting in the dugout, threw down his cap in disgust when RR lost to MI in a nail biter.
The same match had yet another footie moment when Aditya Tare pulled his shirt over his head after hitting the winning runs.
As the season draws to a close, it leaves us with some moot questions. One, should foreign players be appointed captain?
Kevin Pietersen seemed lost in the role, even forgetting the name of one of his batsman during a post-match interview.
While there have been exceptions like Shane Warne, common sense tells me that Indian players do better in that role.
Someone like Gambhir can communicate with a South African, a West Indian and a Haryanvi-speaking Jat.
Someone like KP will only get more isolated, especially so if his team goes on a losing spiral.
Language and communication are vital in teams that combine nationalities and regions, and bilingual Indian players do a much better job of it.
Two, the BCCI doesn't have a consistent policy on whether good form in the IPL should form a basis for selection in international matches.
Dinesh Karthik was included in the squad for the Champion's Trophy in England last year because he'd performed in the IPL.
Passion: Suresh Raina of The Chennai Superkings plays a shot during the 2nd qualifier match of the Pepsi Indian Premier League between the Kings XI Punjab and the Chennai Superkings
Uthappa, who has been a star in 2014, has been left out of the forthcoming tour of England.
Umesh Yadav too struck form, but Stuart Binny, who has had an indifferent IPL, has been selected instead.
Three, the club vs country debate is far from settled.
After India won the previous World Cup, our big ticket players all played the IPL but skipped the tour of the Caribbean.
This year too they have been rested for the Bangladesh tour.
So do Ambani and Mallya come before national duty?
The writer is the author of The Butterfly Generation