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Have you ever imagined having an IPL all-star game? This could be done on the weekend before the knockouts begin, on the lines of the NBA all-star game concept. Saturday could feature individual competitions between the best batsmen, bowlers and fielders. Sunday could be a full T20 game between the best 22 players in the regular season.
First up on Saturday, a six-hitting competition between the eight or ten batsmen who have hit the longest sixes in the tournament so far. The likes of Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and Shane Watson could face an over each, either from a bowling machine or a bowler of their choice from their own IPL team. (Why would a bowler agree!) Another variation could be an initial round with 10 batsmen and then a second round with the top four. The batman who hits the longest six wins.
For the top ten bowlers, the long forgotten bowl-out could be the best competition. The bowl-out was used in the 2007 World T20 to break a tie between India and Pakistan in the league stage. The challenge here could be to hit the stumps the most number of times in a single over, with the top four qualifying to a penalty shoot-out style final. To make it more exciting, just one stump could be used instead of three. Sunil Narine would have to decide which of his variations to trust; Lasith Malinga would probably stick to the Yorker.
Finally, for the fielders, I fondly remember a TV show named 'Cricket with the K' on Indian television around 15 years ago. There was a drill in which fielders would try to get the maximum number of direct hits in a fixed amount of time while running around and picking up balls from different spots on the ground. The competition could feature one fielder from each IPL team - a few Australians would surely feature on that list.
Come Sunday, you could have the best 22 players in the IPL going head-to-head. Finding a basis to split the teams would be difficult, since there really isn't any clear-cut regional split. The important part would be selecting the best 22 players and 2 best captains to lead those teams. Some of the IPL sides already look like World XIs; these two teams would be the best of the best.
As a fan, I would definitely look forward to such a weekend. It could be a win-win on all fronts - new challenges for the players, strong ratings for sponsors, innovation for the game and fresh excitement for fans.
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