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Highs and Lows

Champs, chumps and the fifth Beatle

Dada does it Toronto-style, Hayden leaves it too late, and Flintoff just plain leaves. Week one of the IPL in precis

Andrew Flintoff bowls during game one of the IPL's second season, Chennai Super Kings v Mumbai Indians, IPL, 1st game, Cape Town, April 18, 2009
Flintoff: a steal © Getty Images

Streaker of the week
The dog that evaded all security and rugby tackles, holding up play during the opening game of the IPL, for longer than even a strategic time-out. Did it all without a stitch on its person.

Conspicuous absence of the week
Pakistan players: Well, Sohail Tanvir and Umar Gul mostly, though Shah Rukh Khan's generally glum expressions can only be lightened by a Shoaib Akhtar bear hug.

Conspicuous absence of the week II
The Indian crowd: No disrespect to South African crowds, but well-behaved fans do not necessarily make for fun fans.

Deal of the week
Two wickets at US$387,500 each and 62 runs at US$12,500 each mean Andrew Flintoff has been as much of a bargain as a shopping spree at Harrods. And he picked up a knee injury to end his involvement thereafter.

Are we in Toronto?
Sourav Ganguly's two-wicket over against Kings XI Punjab under the grey clouds of Durban revived memories of when Dada was the Prince of the Sahara (Cup), and the champion of all dibbly-dobbly bowlers.

John, Paul, George, Ringo and…
Mandira? With that haircut, the first TV lady of Indian cricket can only be the fifth Beatle.

Most ill-timed return to form
Two fifties, 166 runs and a strike rate of over 170: whew, those are the kind of numbers that get you a return to national duty, especially when your country is struggling with its batting. If only, of course, 37-year-old Matthew Hayden, possessor of those very figures, had produced them three months ago, before retiring.

The best-disguised googly of the week
The time-out: Is it innovative, philanthropic, strategic, or naked capitalism? We're all stumped.

The least super thing about the Super Over
Its existence.

Best-researched post-match player interview
Ravi Shastri to Herschelle Gibbs after the latter led the Deccan Chargers to a comfortable win over the Kolkata Knight Riders. "Well Herschelle, well played - go and enjoy a drink," says Shastri. All very harmless of course. Though, considering Gibbs came out of an alcohol-related rehabilitation course in January, perhaps it wasn't the smartest advice he has been given of late. Gibbs laughed and said "Well, a drink of water, yeah"

The Lasith Malinga award for freak performance of the week
Anil Kumble's 5 for 5. So some of the shots were as well-considered as a Silvio Berlusconi speech, but 5 for 5? In a Twenty20? At his age?

The Shahid Afridi award for freak performance of the week
The second half of AB de Villiers' century against the Chennai Super Kings. Having crawled to 50 off 35 balls, he brought up a second fifty in 16 balls, which included 20 off four successive deliveries from the US$1.55-million-dollar-man.

Least welcome guests of the week
Duckworth-Lewis, who have gatecrashed two matches. And rain, which washed one out totally. Good thing the IPL didn't go to the UK, which has been afflicted by bright sunshine and an uninterrupted county season since the first week.

Captaincy of the week
Kevin Pietersen the captain bringing on Kevin Pietersen the bowler. Six bowlers had been tried over 10 overs, without fruit, after Parthiv Patel and Matthew Hayden came out swinging. KP came on after the time-out and first ball bowled Patel. So inspired was the move - and so petrified Chennai - that Hayden ran himself out the very next ball. Only barely worth noting that KP went for a duck as his side were bowled out for 87 subsequently.

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