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Highs and Lows

Fakes, ghosts, freaks and Pathans

The hundred that wasn't, the hat-trick that was, and the commentary advice of the week

Suresh Raina mistakenly celebrates his hundred, Chennai Super Kings v Rajasthan Royals, IPL, 22nd match, Centurion, April 30, 2009
Suresh Raina: look twice before you leap © AFP

Performer of the week
The Fake IPL player. Zero matches, zero runs, zero wickets and catches but three blog entries. Has promised to reveal his or her identity at the end of Kolkata's tournament; nobody will be surprised, however, if somehow the entries mould themselves into a book, preceded by a magnificently persistent teaser campaign about who it could be. All rights would, of course, be owned by the IPL.

Calamity team of the week
Kolkata Knight Riders: Shahrukh Khan has returned to India, claiming he will be back once his team starts winning again (so, not anytime soon), Brendon McCullum has offered to resign as captain, and there are general rumblings about an unhappy dressing room. The only good news this week was that their game against Chennai was abandoned, thus saving them the ignominy of another defeat.

Ghost hundred of the week
Suresh Raina's 55-ball dazzler against the Rajasthan Royals carried all the weight of a century, and the scoreboard at Centurion confirmed it. Raina even twirled his bat in acknowledgment. Little did he know that, thanks to a scoreboard error, he was the first - and possibly last - batsman in the history of cricket to celebrate a 98. For good measure, he got out next ball.

Freak spell of the week
Left-arm spinners have never had it as good as they have at the IPL. Pragyan Ojha and Daniel Vettori, in particular, have been outstanding, but Yuvraj Singh? Having not done much with the bat till then, Yuvi decided it was time to contribute with the ball. He began in the 11th over against Bangalore, sending back Robin Uthappa and then foxing Jacques Kallis with his arm ball. First ball of his next over, another arm ball did for Mark Boucher for the IPL's fourth - and most unlikely - hat-trick.

Most renowned benchwarmer
G McGrath, P Collingwood, M Karthik, O Shah, T Henderson, M Ashraful, M Mortaza or F IPL Player; take your pick.

Inspired bowling change of the week
Yusuf Abdulla was chosen to bowl the penultimate over of Punjab's game against Mumbai, with Mumbai needing 19 off 12. The captain, Yuvraj Singh, was not even on the field, but with all the authority of royalty, he sent a message out that Piyush Chawla should bowl the over instead. Chawla did and duly took a wicket with the first ball, though later Kumar Sangakkara - who was on-field captain in the absence of Yuvraj - hinted that it was his decision too.

The two Ws award for yorkers
Lasith Malinga: The freaky one has clean-bowled seven of his 11 victims, six with yorkers Waqar and Wasim might have been proud of.

The C##*@@I moment of DLF#%&#ing of the week
Anything that has come out of the mouths of the IPL's commentary team.

Commentary advice of the week
"That is nonsense… I'm sorry, Gary Baxter, but you've got to think like a bowler." So Mark Nicholas scolded the umpire after an admittedly dodgy wide call during Rajasthan's game with Chennai, forgetting perhaps that the very point of an umpire is to not think like a bowler or a batsman, but in fact like an impartial adjudicator. Jeepers and by golly, gosh, Mark, we'd have thought you knew better.

Pathan of the week
Yusuf: A blistering 30-ball 62 first led Rajasthan to a much-needed win against Delhi, after they had been reduced to 64 for 5 chasing 144. Then he got his side off to the perfect start against Chennai, opening the bowling and taking two wickets in his first two overs. Rajasthan couldn't take advantage, but - not for the first time since his entry into the big time - Yusuf was the Pathan we all noticed.

Spat of the week
Fidel Edwards and anyone who got in his way. First it was umpire Amiesh Saheba who bore the brunt of some verbals after mistaking a good bouncer for a wide as Delhi made a spirited chase. Then Gary Baxter got some stares for - reasonably - calling a leg-side wide a wide. Fidel also found time to pick a fight with Tillakaratne Dilshan, who, after hitting the winning runs off him, appeared to dish back some verbals of his own. In two overs, before going off the ground in a handshake-less huff, thus did Fidel show more passion than he has arguably done for the West Indies in over five years. England beware?

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