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Highs and Lows

Purple Pakistanis, splenetic sardars and the alliteration of the fortnight

Uthappa, Bopara and, er, Kalinga are among the names that feature in our look back at the action from the first 10 days of the IPL

Sidharth Monga

Comments: 40 | Text size: A | A
Anil Kumble is chuffed after foxing Saurabh Tiwary, Mumbai Indians v Royal Challengers Bangalore, IPL, Mumbai, March 20, 2010
Bangalore: more bounce per ounce © Indian Premier League

The understatement
"Robin [Uthappa] came out and played an unbelievable knock. That was as good as I've seen the cricket ball struck," said Jacques Kallis of Uthappa's 21-ball 51, which helped Bangalore chase 204 against Kings XI Punjab. Kallis could easily have said it was the greatest innings he had watched, like Shane Warne did for Yusuf Pathan's 37-ball hundred. What a spoilsport, that Jacques.

The most prospering race
British Asians. Owais Shah and Ravi Bopara, tried and thrown out of the England national side, have found their niche here, which clearly is rescuing sides from the messes that real Asian batsmen leave them in. Bopara even wore the orange cap for two hours. The laptops be damned if they haven't convinced team owners to fly down Monty Panesar and Sajid Mahmood, who tick both boxes: they are British Asians and they are not required by the England side.

The thanklessness
Less than a year ago, when the government of India almost rendered IPL a non-starter, just in the nick of time came South Africa. The ambitious guests and the graceful hosts, who have earned a name for hosting world events well, made for a perfect marriage, and a successful event. This year, though, the advertising campaign goes, "It's good to be backā€¦ it's the Indian Premier League after all." And from commentators to hosts to players to coaches to Ravi Shastri, they have all stopped a few phrases short of saying, "South Africa was hell, India is paradise." Worth noting is how a certain wretched board has accused the league of violating norms. Talk of bitter divorces.

The plan
Royal Challengers Bangalore's sinister move to show up Indian batsmen with bouncers. How unfair is it that, in the Indian Premier League? From Ambati Rayudu to Naman Ojha to Aditya Tare to Abhishek Jhunjhunwala, non-international Indians have been hit below the belt, with good results. Is winning so important?

The comeback
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, it has to be that of the venerable sardar, Navjot Sidhu. He set the pace in the first two minutes of his appearance on the host channel, saying, "The IPL is a small step for Mr Modi but a giant leap for the cricketing fraternity." From calling Twenty20 underwear cricket to getting effusive about Mr Modi's small step, you've truly come a long way, baby.

The fantasy role-player
Danny Morrison, who insists on calling the Delhi Daredevils "Double Ds".

The move
Kolkata Knight Riders' purple uniform. Even if their bowlers don't take a wicket, they get to wear the purple cap, instituted in 2008 to honour the leading wicket-taker in the league. If only Kolkata had gone for orange-and-gold uniforms for away matches, and purple-and-gold for home ones, they would have both the leading run-getter and wicket-taker in their ranks.

The empty threat
By an Oriya watchdog body, the Kalinga Sena. Wanted a ban on Australians and cheerleaders. Must have realised their home team, Deccan Chargers, are crap without the two Aussies, Adam Gilchrist and Andrew Symonds. More importantly, must have appreciated that cricket is dying and wouldn't survive if scantily clad Eastern European women didn't gyrate and perform gymnastics by the boundary.

Matthew Hayden gives it a whack with the Mongoose bat, Delhi Daredevils v Chennai Super Kings, IPL, Delhi, March 19, 2010
Great snakes, it's a Mongoose © Indian Premier League

The animal
Not the pitch-loving dogs of Chennai but the Super Kings' top dawg's pet rather. Seems Matthew Hayden has spent the time between the last IPL and this one on a private, off-limits island, practising batting with a shorter, thicker bat with a longer handle, one that has no bad spot and promises 20% extra power. Delhi Daredevils bore the brunt as he walloped five fours and seven sixes off the 34 balls he batted using the Mongoose. To demonstrate the bat's true effectiveness the manufacturers want Chris Martin to use it in Tests, it is rumoured.

The lone exception
This year's IPL is Pakistani-free, save for one. Wasim Akram is a welcome presence in the Kolkata Knight Riders dugout. The other day he talked about what he discusses with the bowlers of his side - the lengths, the lines, the fields, the art of making batsmen play where you want them to, and how even he is learning the slower bouncer - from Angelo Mathews. Oh, Waz, just put on those bowling shoes one of these days and knock the stuffing out of them batsmen.

The horror
VVS Laxman slogging. Damien Martyn moving about awkwardly in his crease, trying, and failing, to get quick runs. Some sights are just sick and wrong.

The ICL reunion
Martyn and Abhishek Jhunjhunwala batting together against Bangalore. And Martyn playing as if he was a senior Australian batsman on a paid holiday batting in the ICL. Also, Kolkata's Shane Bond getting smacked by Mumbai's R Sathish, watched from the dugout by Ambati Rayudu and called from the comm box by Michael Kasprowicz. Who says the BCCI is petty?

The joke
"Now you know why the Punjabis don't like the taste of Uthapppas :) :) :p hehehehe :)"
Robin Uthappa is clearly prouder of the aforementioned line than the actual innings that shot Punjab out

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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Posted by Wasim on (March 26, 2010, 10:47 GMT)

@iplaycricket256: Pakistanis did not want to play IPL, they were "invited" by IPL for the auction and then they dumped them. That dumping thing was "typical Indian". They showed their real selves. IPL or no-IPL, we are still the champs, you can't change the fact. Regarding, ball-biting and cheating things... I can show you lots of videos of Indians who did the same, so my boy, speak but remember your limits before calling anyone a cheater.

Uneducated? right! its "uncouth" rather "uncooth" my educated fellow ;)

And finally, we (Pakistanis) are not racists at least :-) cheers.

Posted by Kannan on (March 26, 2010, 7:45 GMT)

P for Pakistan? No way! IPL is all Indian, P or no P!

Posted by asdasd on (March 25, 2010, 19:33 GMT)

I dont know why Pakistanis wanted to play IPL any ways. They have more pressing issues in their contry to worry about. I absolutely loved the "pakistan free" term.I hope someday we can say the same about India's neighborhood too.

This tournament just feels cleaner and fresher without Pakistan. Who needs ball biters/match fixers/ cheaters/ whiners/ uneducated /uncooth people in this beautiful country?

Sidharth Monga is a rock star!!!

Posted by Ajith Prasad on (March 25, 2010, 9:55 GMT)

What Kallis said was the right statement and Shane Warne was just exaggerating on Yusuf Pathan's performance. Both Pathan and Uthappa are sub-standard cricketers who get carried away with one sixer and then try useless tricks and collapse. Both of them give a lot of chances in every inning that they play.

They are good T20 players but on a national ODI side sometimes good to be picked at No:7 or 8, if there are no other options that is. Brutal power alone won't get you anywhere... In essence it wasn't understatement but the right statement by Kallis.

Posted by usman on (March 25, 2010, 4:54 GMT)

Your writings on cricket smack of utter bias and ignorance at times. So, this year's IPL is Pakistani-free or Pakistani-less, Mr. Monga? Just ask yourself what difference would Afridi, Umar (both Gul and Akmal), Akhtar, Amir etc. would have made to the competition.....

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 25, 2010, 0:59 GMT)

great article man. I would have loved to see paki players in IPL. but one bomb blast in india and paki government would have called them back so why would priety,shilpa risk their money. Plus Paki players have shown how they play cricket. All pakis supposibly "hate IPL" but most of them watch it anyway because its much better than their "PPL". Indians must be proud that foreign players are begging to come play in an indian domestic tournament.

Posted by G on (March 25, 2010, 0:30 GMT)

I think 'full of extreme racism' would have been better than to write 'Pakistani-free'.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 24, 2010, 23:24 GMT)

The IPL has been spectacular. On occasion!

Posted by atif on (March 24, 2010, 22:38 GMT)

I believe ppl like KrazzyIndian need to get a life and mature up coz all such ppl do is spread hatred and they think they are being 'funny', well news flash for you buddy, you are not being funny, thats 'mischievious' and I am sure you are not a dumb person to not realize it, at the same time authors like Monga need to get their article 'double checked' for 'sarcastic/funny' comments. It's a shame everyone has to talk about one stupid comment, I was reading this article out of genuine interest, and it was soured by irresponsible author....Trust me, I know what funny is (I can do a lot cruder and a lot funnier) and what's been purposefully written to evoke needless comments

Posted by munazzar on (March 24, 2010, 22:37 GMT)

what a nice way to discribe "pakistani free". well its your time to talk ARROGANTLY.but do not forget we are WORLD CHAMPIONS. and i think you know what champion`s meaning?

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