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IPL 2010: Dramatic Turnaround for KKR; Revival of the Classey

The first few days of the third audition of the most celebrated league in cricket has already begun, and has unraveled a flurry of thoughts for the enthusiasts. The league has returned back to India—the place where it ought to be played given the name—and has kept the countrymen involved for the latter part of the day when they come back tired from a long day at work.

IPL-3 continues to prove that the shortest format of the game is not only for the youth.

Being seven seas apart, I have been unable to catch most, in fact all, the action brought up until now, either due to lack of broadcasting facilities (the live streaming of IPL through YouTube is unavailable for U.S.) or due to clash with work timings. I have kept myself up-to-date with the scores and results, though, hence aware of how easy it is for Shane Warne to exaggerate Yusuf Pathan’s innings as the best he has ever seen.

In one way, although I am disappointed at the continued persistence with short boundaries and placid pitches, it has been a treat for the fans with those absolutely high scoring games. And with a close couple of games in which an innings went for more than 200 runs, it is working as of now. However, as the IPL last season has already proven that the most exciting matches are those in which the chasing team has a manageable score and the bowling side has something in the pitch for support. And if last match between Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils in any indication, the contest becomes totally lackluster if the team chasing a 200+ total loses wickets early in the innings. More often than not that is always the case, and the sooner the authorities realize that, the better. The reason why IPL ‘09 was so enjoyable was that the lower half of a team’s lineup was equally important for the match as the upper half. And when you have bowlers like Dale Steyn, Shane Bond and Shaun Tait in the mix, then why not allow them to flourish as well?

An extremely high scoring match is great as a fast food snack, but becomes unhealthy once it becomes a staple diet.

But the greatest story for the moment has been the turnaround of the team which was the center of attack and humiliation—the Kolkata Knight Riders. The Shahrukh-Sourav-Shoaib saga is long gone, the laptops and strategies of John Buchannan has been replaced by the cricketing tactics and basics of Dave Whatmore, and their success has meant that even the once famous Fake IPL Player from the team has gone into oblivion. His arena may sport a new look and feel but is devoid of any substance as of now.

It is not just the victories by the KKR that has grabbed attention, but the style in which they were attained, which oozed both character and domination. While in the first match, they hobbled and limped towards the victory after almost being down and out at least two times during the match, they thoroughly dominated the scene from start to finish in the next outing.

Sourav Ganguly stated that their team was well prepared this time around, and this was apparent as even the captain was running and diving around the field holding on to catches, despite failing with the bat. As they say, sometimes the captain is the most important asset of the team regardless of his contributions to the runs or wickets, and the Prince of Kolkata is definitely one of them.

The other interesting aspect that has caught my attention is how even the shortest format of the game never deserts the players who have class and technique. It has been amazing how the older guys have thrived in the last two seasons after a pathetic start in ‘08. Rahul Dravid was fantastic last year, Jacques Kallis has already played two blitzing innings, Anil Kumble has been among the wickets since the last two seasons, and Sachin Tendulkar has been….well, Sachin Tendulkar.

If anything, T20 cricket further highlights the importance of Test Cricket and the role it plays in the development of cricketers. The specialist test cricketers may lack the exuberance required to succeed in this format, but they have enough class and experience to change their style according to the nuances of the T20 and adapt eventually

Jacques Kallis has been phenomenal in IPL-3.

. Moreover, the nerves of steel that are required to succeed in tests equally helps to hone their character in T20. The same cannot be said of the IPL stars—Yusuf Pathan, Swapnil Asnodkar and others—who are unable to find their slot even in the final playing eleven of the Indian team. The latter, in fact, could not even manage to get past the first version.

If the action on the cricket field has been good, that behind the microphone has been terrible—or so I have heard. The old clichés are still prevalent and the needless enthusiasm shown by the broadcasters to pump up the viewer’s interest continues to flourish. Although, this is a very minor issue because after all, this tournament is meant to be a source of enjoyment for the fans and the commentators are offering the viewers the excitement they need.

Overall, the IPL has done great to overcome the initial set of controversies with the media. Their contract with YouTube has been a master stroke and the lack of gossip after its commencement, unlike last year, has been heartening. Their are still a few things that need to be better—bigger grounds and greener pitches among the top concerns—but one cannot expect that to happen in the subcontinent anytime soon.

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