IPL season 4 has finally come to a close after 10 teams, 74 matches and 51 days. Phew! Seemed like a never-ending Ekta Kapoor saans-bahu saga. Imagine what it would’ve felt like if BCCI had gone through with their earlier plan of having 94 matches; I might not have survived it, I had already started having IPL nightmares!
All said and done, one must hand it to the BCCI for pulling this off without too many glitches and considering the fact that this was the first ever Modi-less IPL season, this is a tremendous achievement. Like the previous three editions, this one had its fair share of ups’ and downs’ too. Here are some of the most memorable moments/incidents that cricket fans would have etched in their memories for a long time to come.
He came, he saw and he annihilated the opposition. Unsold at the auctions and alienated by the West Indies cricket board, this Caribbean brave-heart had nothing to lose. Then Bangalore came calling, bags packed, he jumped on a plane to India. The rest was history – An aggregate of 608 runs from 11 matches, an average of 67.55, a strike rate of 183.13, 6 MOM awards, 44 sixes to his name and adjudged the golden player of the tournament. Could the script have been written any better for this Jack Sparrow of international cricket? Don’t think so!
We all knew something was brewing between Shane Warne and Elizabeth Hurley when we got to see some cheesy tweets exchanged between these two on twitter. All the rumors were put to rest when Liz landed up in India with her son tagging along, to cheer for the spin wizard. What we all also know is the fact that these two aren’t exactly the kind of people who like to remain in a committed relationship for too long. But, hey! Who’s complaining; Shane got to lose some weight and iron out some wrinkles off his face thanks to Liz and she in-turn got a free tour of India and also learnt some basics about the game of cricket and the rest of us got to see some steamy real life lip-lock which left many people tongue-in-cheek (no pun intended!).
‘Dada’ as he is come to be known across India, a true champion and a tiger at heart, experienced some of the most disconcerting events, that any professional sports person could have in their careers. At first he was unpicked at the auctions like a young bride left at the altar, then his hopes were raised when there was news of the Kochi Tuskers wanting to sign him but that proposal was turned down by the BCCI. His abilities were questioned and his choice to remain silent through all of this was not taken well either, but then finally some reprieve came when he was picked up by the Pune Warriors to replace the injured Nehra.
It’s deplorable that our sports heroes have to face such reprehensible ordeals, they deserve better. Dada deserved better. Atleast some people understand what Dada’s contribution has been to Indian sports. The testimony to this was when a fan ran past the security cordon and touched the Prince of Kolkata’s feet.
“Wherever cricket goes, Bollywood follows”, or how else would you explain the multitude of celebrities who flocked the stands during the IPL matches. Actors, directors, producers and the likes, everybody made it a point to make an appearance. Some of them were there cheering for friends and some were there just for the attention.
The friendly matches between the owners were a huge hit amongst the fans gathered at the stadiums. The most unforgettable moment of course being the one where, SRK almost killed a guy while batting against Vijay Mallya and his men in red!
Aamir Khan & Kiran Rao, Katrina Kaif, Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra, Arjun Rampal, Raima & Riya Sen and Neha Dhupia were some of the celebrities who were spotted during these matches. Even Dalai Lama couldn’t keep himself away from all the action; he watched the game between Chennai and Punjab played at Dharamshala.
I wonder what tempted Slinga-Malinga to go blonde but whatever it was, it managed to catch the eye of the rival batsmen, literally! Maybe that was the intention; to distract the batsmen using his golden curls while he sling-shot a perfect Yorker between the batsmen’s legs unsettling the timber behind them, which they were so carefully guarding.
Malinga signed-off with 28 wickets from 16 matches, an average of 13.39 and with an economy rate of 5.95 which made him the highest wicket taker this season and also the winner of the purple cap.
The New Breed
This edition also saw the unveiling of some promising new talent with the likes of Paul Valthaty, Rahul Sharma, Iqbal Abdulla and Sreenath Aravind.
Paul took the IPL by storm with his match-winning knock for Punjab against Chennai. Abdulla also had a fairytale run, from a bench-warmer he emerged as a match winner for the Knight Riders. Sharma, the leggie took 16 wickets in 14 games and was the only saving face for Pune in their despicable losing streak. Aravind is however the most promising pick of the new lot having taken 21 wickets in 12 matches.
The drama that unfolded between Shane Warne and Rajasthan Cricket Association secretary Sanjay Dixit, on Twitter and eventually, behind the closed doors of the BCCI headquarters ended in Warnie getting slapped with a fine of US$ 50,000 for his misconduct while Dixit went scot-free.
A South African cheerleader got the boot for writing blogs about the cricketers’ escapades at post-match parties. The 21-year-old who many feel was wrongly sacked is now being wooed by Bollywood producers.
KKR’s skipper, Gautam Gambhir’s shoulder injury came out in the open after their play-off loss to Mumbai Indians. Experts questioned his decision behind nursing the injury and continuing to play-on in the IPL which sparked off a Club vs. Country debate across the country. He wasn’t picked in the national side touring the West Indies.
The IPL ratings were below expectations, the average ratings fell below 15-20 per cent and the CPRP (cost per rating point) was higher than last year. Advertisers are also wary of investing money in the next edition of the IPL, with the viewership dipping steeply this year. Set Max is however believed to have made moolah in excess of Rs. 1,000 crore owing to factors like more number of teams and matches this season.
After all this, I still feel there was something lacking this year, but I’m just not able to put my finger to what it was. Having said that, I’m all geared up for season 5 to come back with a bang; more excitement, more action and more drama!