That the Indian Premier League is the most competitive in the world can be seen with the qualification for the play-off spots going down to the last day of the league. With some of the world’s best players participating in it, there is hardly any match which is not entertaining or has a nail-biting finish. The quality of the batting, bowling and fielding just goes up every year.

This time, in the second half of the tournament which resumed in the United Arab Emirates, the pitches have been slower and not as hard and fast as it was when the whole tournament was played last year in the desert country. That has meant fewer monster hits and lesser number of sixes, especially on the slightly smaller boundaries of Sharjah.

The defending champion, Mumbai, found the going hard this time around and being a slow starter it has struggled as it had to start twice with the tournament being interrupted in India in May before resuming in the UAE in September. That slow start has cost them a place in the playoffs. Its star players also were not in the best form and thus its ability to pull a rabbit out of the hat wasn’t on display.

Bright prospect: Left-handed opener Venkatesh Iyer has been the pick of the talent with his ability to play through the line and has a range of strokes. His fast medium bowling also looks pretty handy for he has the ability to bowl yorkers.   –  PTI

 

The tournament, on resumption, has brought some new stars to the fore. Last year as the tournament was nearing its end, Ruturaj Gaikwad gave glimpses of his talent with an impressive batting effort. This time he has done better and gone on to get a century, which is very rare in the ultra-short format of the game. Getting a fifty is considered a terrific effort in the T20 format but to get a hundred is almost super human. With his organised technique and superb balance at the crease, Gaikwad looks a great prospect in all formats of the game. Last year, Devdutt Padikkal was a revelation with the freedom with which he unfurled a range of shots.

This time he has not quite lit that same fire and that could be because he was trying too many different shots too soon. He has also been playing across the line a lot more than last year and has been getting out just when he looks set for many more. Another left-handed opener Venkatesh Iyer has been the pick of the talent with his ability to play through the line and has a range of strokes. His fast medium bowling also looks pretty handy as he has the ability to bowl yorkers which is a priceless delivery to have in the final overs when the opposition batsmen are looking to slog everything past the boundary.

Among the bowlers, Umran Malik has shown promise with his speed, clocking the fastest ball of the IPL but that is not enough. Batsmen in this format of the game actually like the ball to come off the pitch faster as they can use that pace to manoeuvre it around. In red ball cricket pace is very handy indeed and so it will be interesting to see how young Malik develops. Fast bowling is a difficult task as it involves putting so much pressure on the body and so injuries can be round the corner. Malik will thus have to watch that aspect and work accordingly. He is young and strong, so, at this point, he should be looking to simply bowl fast and all the other variations can come in later with more experience from playing in different conditions.

Once again this edition of the IPL has shown that big money is wasted if spent on players who have not done justice to their ability in the earlier editions. If a player is released by a franchise it’s mostly because he is found not good enough, so for another franchise to spend even more money in buying him makes little sense. However the auction can take lots of twists and turns and a life of its own and go on to make the life of a player who will thank his stars for what fate has brought him.

Talent meets opportunity is the motto of the IPL and almost every year it lives up to that.

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