Former batsman Sanjay Manjrekar has conveyed his exasperation with the 'bizarre' turnarounds that have unfolded in many IPL 2021 games. He believes that players who are past their prime and those with 'ordinary abilities' have contributed towards the 'most frustrating' season in the tournament's history.
Manjrekar's observations came hot on the heels of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR)'s final-over win against Delhi Capitals (DC) on Wednesday. KKR were cruising in their chase of 136 runs, but dramatically collapsed from 123-1 to 130-7 within five overs. The equation came down from 13 off 24 balls to 6 off 2 when Rahul Tripathi took his team home with a maximum against Ravichandran Ashwin.
Sanjay Manrjekar remarked in an ESPNcricinfo video:
"I have followed the IPL very closely, but this has been a very unique IPL. We have seen some quality players but we have (also) seen a large number of guys who are either ability wise, quite ordinary to begin with or players who are past their prime...You have got these very good players and then there's a huge chunk of out-of-form players, players past their prime and players with the ability (seeing which) you wonder whether they belong here. And that's why we have seen so many bizarre ends and turnarounds. This has been, for me, the most frustrating IPL to watch."
Manjrekar conceded that the pitches this season have helped most bowlers. However, he also said the batters have drastically failed to match the skills of the bowlers by looking rusty even at the business end of the season. Manjrekar said:
"The pitches have helped the bowlers, the medium-pace kind, the quicks, the spinners, everybody. Bowling has thrived, but you would expect in this kind of league for batters to play with distinction. You can understand the first couple of games (but) you can't be looking rusty in one of your final games of the tournament... IPL this time has basically carried a lot of flap, and that's what we are seeing here."
KKR won by three wickets, knocking DC out of the tournament to set up a final against Chennai Super Kings (CSK) on Friday in Dubai.
Players like Karthik, Morgan, Raina have been instrumental in these turnarounds: Sanjay Manjrekar
Sanjay Manjrekar named a few players, including KKR's Dinesh Karthik and Eoin Morgan, CSK's Suresh Raina and Rajashtan Royals' Liam Livingstone who have contributed towards this frustrating season. He said:
"Once Venkatesh Iyer and Shubman Gill were gone, Dinesh Karthik, clearly out of his prime, Morgan, woefully out of form, I have got a long list, Suresh Raina, you know, shouldn't be playing the IPL but is playing, you have got Riyan Parag who played a number of matches for Rajasthan Royals, (Liam) Livingstone, Nicholas Pooran, Dan Christian the batter, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, a lot of these players have just been instrumental in these kind of turnarounds."
Manjrekar concluded by saying that most teams only have a few good players, and this season has 'exposed' the quality of the teams, or rather the lack of it.
"Two or three batters got out, but they got you a great platform," said Manjrekar. "You just have to see that through however tricky the pitch is, you need to have that ability... Unfortunately, it's getting exposed, the quality of players. In most teams there are three four good ones, but the rest, not quite there."
Other experts like Aakash Chopra have also questioned the receding quality of talent in the IPL. It remains to be seen whether the addition of two new teams next season improves the quality or worsens it.
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