IPL 2010 April 26, 2010

The game-changers of the IPL

The one player, or factor, that made or broke the season for each team

Delhi Daredevils : The pitch
It angered Gautam Gambhir so much that he said he preferred to play away games. "I personally would prefer to play away matches as a batsman and bowler. It is difficult to play shots and score runs here." A batting line-up that boasted the likes of Virender Sehwag, Tillakaratne Dilshan, David Warner and Gambhir hardly fired and the pitch never allowed them to get into any kind of groove.

Kings XI Punjab: Yuvraj Singh
He never turned up this IPL. They said he was sulking after being stripped of captaincy; they said he was not getting along well with Kumar Sangakkara and though he refuted these allegations, his bat remained silent. He tried to hit out and he tried to graft but nothing worked. He played 14 games and could only score 255 runs at an average of 21.25. It was a season to forget. And Punjab went down with him.

Deccan Chargers: Rohit Sharma
Rohit had some really good performances and some forgettable ones. Just like Deccan Chargers'. He accumulated 404 runs at a strike rate of 133.77 and was the engine of Deccan's batting. When he was good, he was really good. In the last three pressure games before the semi-finals, which Deccan had to win, he starred with the bat in the first two (two stirring fifties) and with the ball in the last to push his team to the final four. When he was bad, he was really bad. He threw his wicket away in the semi-final and in the third-place play-off but that's something we have now come to see from him. Deccan lifted and sank with him.

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Robin Uthappa
In 2009, he had a good domestic season but flopped in the IPL. In 2010, he did the reverse. Bangalore backed him to deliver and he did that in style. He hit 371 runs at an awesome strike rate of 171.55 that made him the toast of the Bangalore public. He hit the most number of sixes in the tournament and won a few close games and made some ridiculously one-sided. Even in the semi-final he tried his best with a 13-ball 26 but Bangalore's hopes evaporated when he fell.

Rajasthan Royals: Yusuf Pathan
He was the power hitter that made everyone dread Rajasthan and the critics wary about rubbishing their chances in this tournament. Gambhir even said that if you take out Yusuf, Rajasthan was an ordinary team. And they were. He had started the tournament brightly, hitting a power-packed hundred, but he was done in by the bouncers. Bangalore started it, the rest of the teams followed and Yusuf went down under the bumper barrage. And so did Rajasthan.

Mumbai: Sachin Tendulkar
He was injured in 2008 and didn't have a great time in 2009 but everything changed in 2010. He scored 618 runs at an average of 47.53 at a strike rate of 132.61. He did not have a great time in a leadership role for India but finally, here in IPL, he had quite a few sunny moments as Mumbai's captain. During the first half, it was felt that Mumbai depended far too much on him but he inspired the Indian players to start performing. He resisted the temptation to rely completely on the foreign players and promoted the likes of Ambati Rayudu and Saurabh Tiwary in the batting line-up. And the boys delivered. Until the final, where everything went pear shaped. He promoted Abhishek Nayar and Harbhajan Singh and both moves, unfortunately, backfired.

Chennai Super Kings: Doug Bollinger
He turned it around for Chennai. He picked 12 wickets in eight games at just 17.25 to save the day for his team. Until his arrival, they were struggling with their bowling, especially in the fast-bowling department. They had a good spin attack in Muttiah Muralitharan, R Ashwin, who has impressed, and Shadab Jakati, but were let down by their seamers. The relief his arrival produced was best expressed by the Chennai crowd who chanted his name each time he ran out to bowl. Such was the drought in the pace attack. Bollinger hit the blockhole, produced the slower ones, bowled the bouncers, and delivered under pressure.

Kolkata Knight Riders: Sourav Ganguly
Just like Sourav Ganguly, Kolkata were hot and cold and couldn't string together a consistent series of performances to take them to the final four. There was criticism that Ganguly batted too high and should perhaps have given the likes of Brendon McCullum a go at the opening slot, but that's neither here nor there. McCullum has struggled to play a decent knock since his century in the first IPL game in 2008. Ganguly scored 493 runs and no one else in his team reached close to 300.

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo