April 30, 2012

Rajasthan Royals

Wait till Delhi’s cookie crumbles

Andrew Hughes
Delhi Daredevils celebrate the wicket of Brad Hodge, Delhi Daredevils v Rajasthan Royals, IPL, Delhi, April 29, 2012
Kevin Pietersen gets on stilts just so he can look down at Morne Morkel during a celebration routine  © AFP
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At the risk of spoiling their top-of-the-table party, I should remind Delhi fans that the men in blue and red are deceitful blighters and they’ve been here before. They own the group matches, spank every franchise in sight and then saunter into the knockout stages as casually as David Gower wandering along the counter at the breakfast bar trying to decide between waffles and pancakes.

And then it all goes wrong. With a final on the horizon, Irfan will trip over his shoelaces and dislocate his nose, the nutritionist will mix up Morne’s rocket-fuel smoothie with Mahela’s jasmine-and-green-tea sedative drink, and Viru will decide that at long last the moment has come to unveil his left-handed alter-ego, Vincent. Delhi’s exit from the knockout stages is usually swift and unseemly.

So they aren’t fooling anyone with their seven wins. The latest, against Rajasthan, was a bit of a knuckle-whitener, the archetypal IPL game, introduced by the perfect IPL host, or at least he would be if this were 1979. I can see Ramiz Raja in an episode of Magnum PI, sitting on a Hawaiian beach, open-shirted, wearing a gold medallion and sipping from a coconut with a straw. Or is that just me?

At any rate, you feel in safe hands with Ramiz leading the toss ceremony, He doesn’t shout like Ravi, he doesn’t clown like Danny; he just gets the job done in a suave manner: the compere you can trust, the Pakistani Ron Burgundy. And to complete the laidback feel of the intro, he was accompanied by a man in a cowboy hat, something that has sadly gone out of the game since Allen Stanford got caught.

Everyone had come to see Viru and KP, but the rubber-limbed switch-hitter was a bit of a let-down. He carved a brutal four through the off side but was soon on his way after edging to slip with an ugly woody sound, like a man splicing logs for firewood. And there was only a hint of Viru’s genius in the rough-edged fifty he muscled, like Rembrandt knocking up a quick self-portrait to pay a grocery bill.

It was Rajasthan who possessed the star of the show. There are plenty of run-stuffed biffers and six-happy sloggers in the IPL but does franchiseland boast a more stylish bat wielder than Rahane? Surely, before Suresh and Rohit are given another spin on the selection carousel, Ajinkya deserves his moment? He very nearly almost won this game, and he would have done too, but for Morne’s yorkers.

The yorker is, sadly, out of fashion. These days it’s all slow balls, double-slow balls and super-slo-mo balls, but in those final overs nothing quite beats a screaming, in-dipping, worm-flattener that smashes toes, splinters bats and unplugs timber. Morne delivers his from such a height that they arrive on terra firma like a thunderbolt hurled by Zeus and are just as difficult to score off.

But yorkers, like thunderbolts, can be a tricky weapon to handle. They can go off in your hand. Amit Singh tried to unleash some of his own in Delhi’s last over but got badly burned. Unlike the Morkelyorker, the Amityorker does not smack into the turf with the impact of a scud missile. It floats, it drifts, it hangs delicately in the air for a moment, until it is smashed out of the sky and over the boundary.

With an over to go, the Double Rs needed a dozen. Rahane suffered a bat malfunction and several nasty splinters as his blade was shattered by Yadav, and then Owais could only squirt a single. Ten needed off three. But Rahul Dravid’s Test successor wasn’t done yet. He hit an impossible six over point and then a clever two into a gap on the on side. One for the tie, but Owais, sadly, runs like a tortoise with corns and Delhi, just, racked up another win. They’ll still finish fourth, mind.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by vinod on (May 28, 2012, 8:28 GMT)

accurate prediction andrew delhi r the south africa of the ipl superdominant in the league but choking when the pressure is on

Posted by Arthur on (May 25, 2012, 17:22 GMT)

Sad thing he is right,Irfan got an injury,and MMokel missed out and it all went downhill ..

Posted by Pavan on (May 1, 2012, 11:37 GMT)

Can't believe the comments on this post. Where has the ability to laugh at oneself gone?

Posted by Anonymous on (April 30, 2012, 19:21 GMT)

after sooo long i have enjoyed reading an article that much,i was wishing it never ends....

Posted by Manish on (April 30, 2012, 17:46 GMT)

sad man andrew !!

Posted by N Kumar on (April 30, 2012, 16:24 GMT)

Wonderful article. But DD still look a bit different this time. With KP going out the odds go with Hughes prediction. Warner and Taylor might prove otherwise.

Posted by SURESH on (April 30, 2012, 12:52 GMT)

Delhi will win this IPL

Posted by Anonymous on (April 30, 2012, 12:19 GMT)

We just have to wait and see..but overall i think owners would be happy to see their side in the Champions LeagueT2O,so not the biggest loss..

Posted by Sridhar on (April 30, 2012, 10:46 GMT)

Interesting prediction Andrew. But what did happen in tnis DD vs RR game, esp in the last overs? How come RR left too much to be done, with so many wickets in hand? I watched every ball, and I found the whole thing a little weird....Inexplicable.

Posted by terapapa on (April 30, 2012, 10:46 GMT)

first suppose he would have drawn it then it would be sehwag kp morkel vs rajasthan losers if ur rahane is good at test then let him play test why test him in a format he cannot play and dont worry rajasthan wont qualify i think delhi will replace taylor with russel sooon and going to win this time and more we are on top of the league

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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