Grassy trysts, nail-biters and double paybacks
Kotla's green break with tradition
"Grass is for cows," said Ivan Lendl. Curator after curator at Feroz Shah Kotla agreed with the tennis champion, and resolutely refused to let even a blade of green appear on their pitch. But the IPL has left hardly anything unchanged, and after consecutive losses at home, Delhi Daredevils decided to dump tradition into the Yamuna. Suddenly, the brown surface sprouted grass. It was the kind of green that suited Delhi as they proceeded to smash Kings XI Punjab for 231 in a rare win. More curiously than it had appeared though, some of the grass disappeared for Delhi's next two games, bringing them two more losses, and keeping them in familiar territory, at the bottom of the table.
The Shane Warne monitor
Taking a cue from Delhi, Rajasthan Royals took a look at their squad, realised they had Shane Warne, and gave him a dry Jaipur surface that had different-coloured patches, and plenty of unpredictable bounce. Warne, delighted by the Rajasthani hospitality, bamboozled his way to three crucial wickets against Kochi Tuskers. He tossed them up, he slid them in, he even welcomed former team-mate Ravindra Jadeja with a 109 kph bouncer. He also found time to doff his cap and shake hands with the endless assembly that was the presentation party as he collected his Man-of-the-Match award. All was well with the world.
The aesthetic accumulator
S Badrinath is doing for the Chennai Super Kings what he usually does for Tamil Nadu. He comes in, pitches tent at the crease, splits the field with the most graceful of high elbows, and just refuses to get out. The man one commentator called India's version of Mr. Cricket eased his way to 145 unbeaten runs in three games last week. He comfortably beat even Rohit Sharma, no small competitor, in the elegance stakes. Badrinath makes the mow over midwicket appear mellifluous, lofts languidly over extra cover, and slams the straight six with rarely seen serenity. And he makes truckloads of runs. Yet he's been dumped from the India side after two Tests and three ODIs. Staggering.
Thank you, come again
0-4-0 is the national dialling code for Hyderabad. Ishant Sharma decided to add 0-0-0 to it, and put it down on the Kochi scoresheet as Deccan Chargers' calling card. Kumar Sangakkara had made a masterly half-century on a surface where the ball was talking rudely, and had given Kochi 130 to chase. Sangakkara needn't have bothered. Ishant was in a tearing hurry, and delivered a spell that brought back memories of Perth 2008. He blew Kochi away with five wickets in eleven deliveries. At one stage, he had figures of 2-0-6-5, Kochi were 11 for 6 after four overs, and that was the end of that.
My story, in six balls
If ever an over has revealed everything about the bowler, it was Sreesanth's second one against Deccan. After seeing Sangakkara carefully defend two straight deliveries, Sreesanth, as has been his wont, went for something extra and the short ball ended up being pulled to the midwicket boundary. True to form, Sreesanth came back with an unplayable brute that pitched on off and took out middle stump. Truer to form, Sreesanth had over-stepped, and Sangakkara lived on. Truest to form, Sreesanth lost it and let the to-be "free-hit" rip, getting an official warning for bowling a beamer, albeit unintentionally. For good measure, he even bowled a wayward wide outside off. Firdose Moonda, ESPNcricinfo's ball-by-ball commentator for the game, called it "a mixed bag from the Kerala Express". It was the story of Sreesanth's career in a nutshell.
Royal Challengers Bangalore's game against Delhi turned so many times that Bangalore's owner Siddhartha Mallya was out of nails to chew by the end. After Bangalore's seamers had made the Delhi top order hop around on the pacy Kotla wicket, James Hopes lifted them to a fighting 160. Delhi got Tillakaratne Dilshan second ball to start their ascendance but ran into Virat Kohli, who threatened to drown them in a deluge of boundaries. Delhi began another round of counter-punching with three wickets in three overs but Saurabh Tiwary and Daniel Vettori resisted again. Not to be outdone, Morne Morkel winkled out two in three balls as the Kotla crowd roared with anticipation. Before Mallya could turn his attention on Deepika Padukone's nails though, Vettori and J Syed Mohammad somehow managed to drag Bangalore home.
The double payback
After Chris Gayle gave it back in style to his former franchise Kolkata Knight Riders, it was the turn of Deccan to be paid back, twice over this time. Rohit and Andrew Symonds, who had prowled the cover cordon and scored prolifically for Deccan until last year, made their former franchise pay for not retaining them ahead of the auction. Rohit caressed, Symonds bludgeoned, and a wobbly 70 for 4 turned into a match-winning 172 for Mumbai Indians. Deccan were themselves reduced to 70 for 4 in the chase, but they no longer had the luxury of Rohit and Symonds to mend matters. Soon, a crushing defeat followed.
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo