Gayle stars from afar, and Agarkar's nadir
Plus Bhajji v Sree, the importance of getting hit on the head, and the light from hell
The resounding endorsement of the week
Chris Gayle said he "wouldn't be so sad" if Test cricket were to make way for Twenty20. "[Twenty20 is] brilliant, games have been sold out, and it has taken the place by storm," Gayle muttered of a cold morning in England last week, nursing a cup of hot chocolate.
The quiet endorsement of the week
Meanwhile, Dwayne Bravo chose to put his forthcoming money where Gayle's mouth is, and stayed on to play for the Mumbai Indians in the IPL. Fortuitously he had a considerate ankle, which could best recover from surgery only in South African conditions.
Dedicated professionals of the week
Neither cold nor dew nor the lurking threat of Danny Morrison kept the cheerleaders from shaking it all about in their fetching handkerchief-sized skirts. As Robin Jackman looked on approvingly, swaddled in three layers of fleece.
The disappointment of the week
If you need proof that this tournament is generally lacking drama, look no further than the most awaited sequel in sport in recent memory, the Harbhajan-Sreesanth rematch. The participants faced off across 22 yards, the bout lasted five balls, and the gloves stayed on - for the batsman at least. Not a slap in sight; instead, circumspect prods, sagacious blocks and an ill-advised sweep were offered to well-mannered full-tosses, topspinners, and nominally surly high-kickers ouside off, for a total of zero runs and no wicket.
The proposals of the week
Of marriage. To Yusuf Abdulla and Shilpa Shetty, from unnamed admirers in the stands - the first published on a banner, the second scrawled on a bare chest.
The death bowling of the week I
Ten years of flattering to deceive came to an inglorious head for Ajit Agarkar when he produced the penultimate over from hell against Bangalore at Centurion. After having gone for a relatively tidy 12 in his previous over, he started with a yorker, and then gave away 6 (full-toss), 2, 1 (full-toss), 1 (yorker), 6 (full-toss). Sixteen off; and the scorecard says Ross Taylor won it.
The death bowling of the week II
A couple of days later Munaf Patel, aided and abetted by more than a smidgen of panic from Mumbai, showed how it is done. Four were needed off six, but Munaf, who had given away 14 in his previous over, needed only five, producing a dot-ball, a yorker that fetched an lbw, a single and two run-outs.
The run-out of the week
Produced by the un-coordinated colossus that is Ashish Nehra. He first hit RP Singh in the chest with a sharp one, then scurried gawkily to short leg, retrieved the ball and threw down the stumps at the bowler's end. And never mind the minor inconvenience of having the target more or less obscured by the batsman as he went for the crease.
The stroke of the week
If Doug Marillier had a dollar for every time the paddle-scoop has been played in the IPL of late, he could probably buy KKR. From Brendon McCullum to Tillakaratne Dilshan to, er, Vinay Kumar, everyone and his uncle went for the shot like it'd be outlawed the next day. And usually got four for their troubles.
The quote of the week
"I have learnt that this team [KKR] is about teaching me how to lose but not to be a loser."
Shah Rukh Khan obtains the peace that passes understanding
The comings and goings of the week
In: Brett Lee and Andrew Symonds. Out: Mark Nicholas. Mighty hoicks and fierce yorkers in exchange for polished smarm. We'll take it, thanks.
The flashback of the week
They didn't quite party like it was 1998, but Shane Warne and Sachin Tendulkar gave the misty-eyed plenty of cause to be, with a show of vintage fencing in a 10-ball face-off that ended with Warne the victor.
The commentary motif of the week
Descriptions of the light at the grounds just past sunset. To listen to Jackers and Co, it is a Lovecraftian horror that casts its clammy presence over proceedings, preventing poor fielders from performing even their most elementary duties. "We're entering the twilight zone, folks," Alistair Campbell pronounced funereally one evening as the witching hour dawned.
The motivational aid
John Buchanan hasn't cottoned on yet, but blows to the head are the hottest performance-enhancers since those substances Mohammad Asif didn't ingest. First it was Praveen Kumar who, in a match early in the tournament, was socked on the skull by a return and then produced a delicious yorker. Then Rohit Sharma slammed his head on the ground while fielding, hard enough to bounce it off the turf, before going on to take a hat-trick. And earlier this week, Dinesh Karthik copped one on the helmet, which clearly helped his focus no end: he went on to make 44.
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