IPL 2021 AND THE JOURNEY SO FAR

hfsdd

By:– Raju Mehta

Emailsunnysrajumehta@gmail.com

The most awaited and eagerly anticipated edition of the IPL started on the 5th of April despite all the doubts about it happening in these extremely difficult and unprecedented times of the pandemic that has affected each and every family in the country and millions all over the world. Many expressed their reservations and questioned the need to actually hold the tournament in these troubled times.

The IPL means so much, to so many in the world. It is the vehicle that puts smiles on millions of faces. It creates opportunities for all those directly involved with it and also a source of entertainment for many others as it helps them to forget their problems for a few hours every day. It keeps people at home and thereby prevents the spread of the virus. And thankfully the event so far has been incident free by the grace of God.

We have had 11 matches as of now and have seen many thrilling finishes that has kept everyone on the edge of their seats. There have been some magnificent batting efforts, heart-warming bowling performances and incredible fielding displayed already in the tournament. We have seen many Indian domestic players who have been unheralded and been around for ages and youngsters who have suddenly come to the fore and truly this event where “talent meets opportunity” has lived up to its tag line.

Batsmen like Sanju Samson, K.L. Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Nitish Rana, Rishabh Pant and youngsters like Rahul Tripathi have played some special innings. Bowling performances of Harshal Patel, Rahul Chahar, Deepak Chahar, less fancied Shahbaz Ahmed and the freak performance of Andre Russell have turned matches on its head. The fielding and catching of Samson, Pant, Tripathi and Tewatia are all in the classic catches category. Of course, the greats like ABD have shown their class all over again and Glenn Maxwell has fulfilled his long promise and has ultimately delivered for his franchise.

The one thing which has emerged from these 11 matches is that no total is chaseable at Chennai and no total is defendable at the Wankhede stadium. It is certainly not as if the wickets at the Chepauk have been unplayable or that the ones at the Wankhede have not helped the bowlers, but the teams have approached the challenge with a timidity not expected of international players and captains. There have been some inexcusable mistakes in the judgement of celebrated captains like Eoin Morgan and even David Warner.

One cannot imagine the hue and cry on the social media if an Indian captain had not given the second over to the bowler who had taken two wickets including that of Virat Kohli in his first over! Or bowled out his main bowler Cummins before the 17th over and had no option but to bowl Russell at the death against batsmen like ABD on a rampage! Even whilst chasing a modest 152 by Mumbai KKR froze and displayed such timidity which was not expected from a captain who is supposed to be one who inculcated the fearless approach in the English team. Warner too could not guide his team home in chasing down absolutely chaseable totals and from a position of strength.

What has been even more inexplicable is the team combinations of all the teams except that of Mumbai Indians. They have a lot to be desired. Can one imagine that the best T-20 batsman in the world in Dawid Malan has still to get a game for Punjab or that Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma are warming the bench for Delhi while youngsters Avesh Khan and newcomer Meriwala open the bowling? It really is difficult to fathom that the talent scouts of the teams who help select the players and buy them at the auctions. They don’t be sure of their buys and are still searching for answers even after the tournament has begun. There is no justification for a Chris Jordan being benched whilst a rookie like Meredith plays ahead of him. How can Chris Gayle not open? These are questions that have not been answered.

A lot has happened, a lot more is expected in the days ahead. But one thing is certain this has not only been an excellent season so far, but may turn out to be a record breaking one.

(Raju Mehta is a former First Class cricketer, the views expressed here are personal)