May 29, 2012
The 76 match gala festival called the Indian Premier League- or more popularly termed as the IPL has just ended. As usual, it lit up the stars with some glitzy cricket, high dose of entertainment and a fitting finale to boot. There was the Gayle special, seemingly reserved only for the IPL, the Morkel family show which ended with the elder brother taking home the booty on behalf of his younger ones, the AB reverse scoop taking precedence over the Dilscoop, Ganguly revisited Lord’s 2002 with a celebratory run only to disappoint the viewers by not flinging his shirt. There were controversies amidst the fanfare and it was only fitting that a team that has gone through the most emotional turmoil over the years finally lifted the cup of joy.
Any teams’ performance is basically decided on a the few core players of the team. But there are a few, who can be compared to the snoozing demon king in Hindu mythology only to awake one fine day, give a performance that leaves their fans craving for more before back to their slumber. We refer them as the ‘one match wonders’. You cannot term them as flops, they have a record worth envying, they have been past masters at scoring and scoring big. Unfortunately for them, this IPL was all about missed opportunities.
Murali Vijay: If there is a definition for the term ‘cometh the hour, cometh the man’, Murali Vijay suits the bill perfectly. The stylish right handed batsman endured a series of misery right until the second qualifier against the Daredevils. He always insisted that his batting touch was as good as ever. Sadly for the man, the score at the right hand side of his name always made for some depressing reading. It was a different story though on that balmy night on May 25 when he made Viru’s men shiver under the hot night. Perhaps, a certain Morne Morkel would have taken care off, with the lanky giraffe nowhere to be seen, Vijay treated as to a barrage of sixes and fours. Delhi had been demolished out of the contest from a quarter they would have least expected. Vijay did show some promise in the finals as well, but sadly will be remembered for his goof up while celebrating a catch off a no-ball that helped Shakib steal a second run. The rest, as they say is history.
Saurabh Tiwary: It is rather strange that Saurabh Tiwary makes the list considering that he did not even pass forty on any occasion. Saurabh did have one good match though, a match where he emerged as the unlikeliest hero by smashing a six off a crest-fallen Ashish Nehra. With 21 required off the final over against Pune, it seemed all but over for the Bangalore outfit before AB de Villiers brought them back into the reckoning with two sixes and a four. The equation read a rather simple 4 from 2 balls but AB managed only a single of the penultimate ball. Tiwary had a chance to re-create history, he had a chance to get the raging Bangalore’s fans back in his favor. He had to hit a four, he did better by clearing the ropes to halted Bangalore’s downswing. Unfortunately, it turned out to be his only innings of substance, he had another chance of making himself a hero, Bangalore needed 24 runs off the last two overs against Deccan to make it to the next round, Saurabh was the last hope, alas the powerful left-hander fell meekly and so did Bangalore.
Yusuf Pathan: Rated as one of the best strikers in the country, Yusuf Pathan’s stocks fell to an all-time low during the course of the tournament. At one stage , his average and confidence reflected to that of a tail-ender. One miserable outing followed the other. There were constant jibes and cursory mimics as one of the hardest hitter of the ball fell to ground with a big thud. As it happens, It needs just one innings for things to change, the change came at a vital time as well. Kolkata looked stuttering towards a below par score against Delhi. In came the beast, and within a matter of a few overs turned the fortunes of his side upside down with a 21 ball 40. The innings sealed the passage of Kolkata into the finals and Yusuf was the hero for the day. It turned out to be his first and last contribution in what has been an eminently forgettable tournament.
Sourav Ganguly: One of the everlasting impressions of this season’s IPL was the dismissal of Kevin Pietersen. Sourav Ganguly came into the attack with Kevin Pietersen in a mood to finish the match in a hurry. The first ball stayed tad low, beat the attempted swipe of KP and crashed into the off-stump. What followed next was nothing short of a frenzy, Sourav sprinted all around the stadium in delirious joy. His man of the match winning performance helped Pune defeat Delhi by a big margin. The performance from Ganguly came like a blot in the blue, Pune were suddenly seen as favorites to lift the cup. Sadly, it turned out to be the last drop of nectar in the ocean. Pune would go on to lose the next 9 matches in a row, questions were asked about Ganguly being able to play the shortest format of the game as his team ended with the miserable wooden spoon.
Harbhajan Singh: If this season is to be described in a nut-shell, ‘nightmare’ would be the apt word for former Indian spinning ace, Harbhajan Singh. The Mumbai skipper came into the tournament with high expectations of good individual and team performances but left with his hopes of an early recall into the national side in absolute tatters. 6 wickets in 17 matches were not just expensive individually but also proved to be too costly for the team. Pragyan Ojha, arguably one of the better spinners in the country at the moment was left high and dry as captaincy meant Harbhajan featured in all matches. The skipper’s only decent performance came against Deccan Chargers where he ended with figures of 2/13 but barring that outing it was a season of torment for the off-spinner. The lowest point was perhaps when he decided against bowling himself in one of the league matches as Delhi chased down a mediocre score. One thing is for sure, it is difficult to see Bhajji anywhere in Indian colors soon.
The IPL has created new heroes, resurrected the careers of a few while pushing some into a spot. In what has been one of the most evenly fought tournament, it was only fitting that the decisive blows were struck by men who played a more consistent role in shaping their team’s fortunes. One hopes that the phenomenon of ‘one match wonders’ ceases to exist when the teams take guard next year.