This, that and the other. Mostly the other
Players/Officials: Ravi Bopara | Abhishek Jhunjhunwala | Damien Martyn | Ambati Rayudu | Owais Shah | Navjot Sidhu | Robin Uthappa | Wasim Akram
Series/Tournaments: Indian Premier League
"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.
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 back… 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.
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?
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".
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.
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.
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?
"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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