The Gayle and Ganguly shows
The Gayle show continues
Runs, wickets, mile-wide smiles, 'tuk-tuk train' celebrations. Christopher Gayle's party with the Royal Challengers Bangalore moves from one match-winning performance to another. Numbers don't tell the story. They scream it out. In six matches, Gayle has muscled almost 400 runs, at an average of almost 100, and a strike-rate close to 200. Almost unreal, but there's more. He's also deadpanned his way to six wickets, firing it in off a two-step walk. It doesn't stop there. He celebrates each dismissal, sometimes like a plane taking off, sometimes like a locomotive chugging away, and sometimes with a bit of sparring. The Bangalore crowd can't have enough of him. Ross Taylor who?
The Ganguly show reruns, again
"Mera naam Sourav Ganguly hai. Bhooley toh nahin?" (My name is Sourav Ganguly. You haven't forgotten, have you?) Remember that commercial from about five years ago? Ganguly was making a comeback then. He has made another comeback now.
The crowd at Hyderabad, the venue of Ganguly's latest return, was buzzing with anticipation as he walked out at No. 3 for Pune Warriors. A largely competitive - if somewhat streaky - unbeaten 32 later, the phoenix had risen, again.
Towards the end of that commercial, Ganguly asks, "Apne dada ki baat sunengey na?" (You'll listen to your dada, won't you?) Listen? One fan at Hyderabad was moved so much that he charged on to the field to touch his hero's feet. It was supposed to be an away game for Pune. Ganguly couldn't have been made to feel more at home. Pune have a home tie coming up against Kolkata Knight Riders. Guess whom the crowd will be listening to.
The Aravind show begins
Bangalore seamer S Aravind is used to playing second fiddle. Normally, he plays third fiddle behind Vinay Kumar and Abhimanyu Mithun for Karnataka. This season, he has been opening the Bangalore bowling along with Zaheer Khan, and has nipped it around on his way to 13 wickets from seven games. Daniel Vettori has called him the find of the season for Bangalore. Aravind justified the faith with a Man-of-the-Match performance against Rajasthan Royals that included the wickets of Shane Watson and Rahul Dravid in three deliveries. The easy-going person he is, he will seamlessly slot in behind Vinay and Mithun when the domestic season arrives.
The dashers' revenge
Fast bowlers hunt in pairs. If the first one doesn't get you, the other will. The dictum applies to the dashing batting duo of the IPL as well. Prasanth Parameswaran, the Kochi Tuskers Kerala seamer, found out the hard way. His first IPL wicket was that of the first dasher, Virender Sehwag, and instantly catapulted him to overnight fame. Parameswaran who? The man who got Sehwag. Gayle, Sehwag's fellow destroyer of bowlers, didn't like it one bit. And he decided to give it back for the sake of the dasher brotherhood. Parameswaran's first over against Bangalore went for 6, 6 (no ball), 4, 4, 6, 6, 4. Parameswaran who? The man whom Gayle tonked for 36 in an over.
Warne and the Rajasthan chronicles
During his international career, Shane Warne didn't bother about the playing surface as he foxed batsmen by the strength of his mind and the guile of his wrists. But leading an average Rajasthan side for four seasons has led to him becoming increasingly reliant on the slow-and-low Sawai Mansingh Stadium pitch that suited his slow-and-medium attack.
Against Chennai Super Kings, Warne complained that Rajasthan were forced to play on a side track with good bounce that reduced the ground to having "kiddies" boundaries. The BCCI issued a clarification saying that no team had the choice to choose the wicket and that it was the decision of the curator and its pitches committee.
There was more controversy coming Warne's way in his last IPL game in Jaipur. Rajasthan crashed to another defeat against Bangalore on the same side wicket, and this time the tremors were felt at home. The Rajasthan Cricket Association complained to the BCCI that Warne had abused its secretary Sanjay Dixit after the latter had allegedly ignored Warne's demand that the surface for the Bangalore game be shifted to one that suited the home team.
As a parting shot, Warne claimed in an interview that he had threatened to walk out of the Rajasthan side during the IPL's inaugural season over "certain people" interfering in team selection.
The IPL shows its depth
It was billed as a no-contest. Mumbai Indians against Kings XI Punjab, top against bottom. And a no-contest it turned out to be. Only, the sides decided to switch places. In the biggest upset of this IPL, Punjab thrashed high-flying Mumbai by 76 runs, the second-largest victory margin of the season. Only the first four Punjab batsmen managed to get into double figures as Munaf Patel became the third Mumbai bowler to take a five-wicket haul this year. Surprisingly, Mumbai's much-vaunted batting line-up never turned up, folding for 87 inside 13 overs. No.1 lost to No. 10, showcasing the famous depth of the IPL.
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo