The Long Handle
When Kings XI Punjab refused to leave
Much as I love them, Adam Gilchrist's men are in serious danger of overstaying their welcome
Knowing when to leave a party is an important skill, but we all know people who are lacking in that department; people who finish their drink, look at their watch, announce their imminent departure, but 20 minutes later are still putting their coat on, and half an hour after that remember a fascinating anecdote about cheese just as they are going through the door.
Well, much as I love them, Kings XI Punjab are in serious danger of overstaying their welcome. Last Thursday they were almost certainly out of it. After losing to Hyderabad over the weekend, they were almost certainly definitely out of it. Yet when I tuned in on Tuesday afternoon, it seemed they still had a slender chance of making the playoffs and were not yet absolutely certainly definitely out of it.
Admittedly, in order to see the slender chance you had to don your anti-plausibility goggles, strap yourself in, and take a psychotropic trip to the outer reaches of probability. It involved the alignment of certain planets, a suspension of the laws of physics, the disqualification of at least two other franchises, and David Miller navigating a spacecraft along a narrow trench before firing a cricket ball into a small exhaust port.
But it could happen.
Royal Challengers, on the other hand, were dallying on the fringes of the playoffs, having a little snooze, confident that they could stroll over the finishing line whenever they felt like it. It was Aesop's famous fable of the blinged-up hare and the zombie tortoise.
It was also Saving the Planet Day at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. As we all know, the best way to save the planet is to wear green trousers, so the home side were kitted out in the kind of outfit Robin Hood's merry men used to wear on their annual trip to the sea side. Royal Challengers piled up 174 and the viewer feared for Kings XI as old man Adam Gilchrist and Shaun "Three Lovely Shots" Marsh traipsed out to the wicket.
Shaun didn't last long, although he did play three lovely shots. With the youngster out of the way, it was time for the old men to get whittling. The range of carpentry sounds produced by Gilchrist and his bat was extraordinary. There were woody clunks, chiselly edges, splintery nicks, and some teeth-juddering croquet noises. At the other end was wrinkly Azhar Mahmood, who was surely only good for four and a half overs of willow swinging.
Yet four and a half overs came and went without a wicket. Virat sulked, Azhar swung, and Gilchrist continued to play a wonky tune on his instrument. No matter what he did, Gilly couldn't get out. He even hit Murali straight up in the air, but none of the men in wishy-washy green could agree on who should chair the committee to look into the possibility of arranging a catch, and the ball fell to the turf harmlessly.
So one week after being put on the endangered list, Kings XI Punjab's sixth IPL campaign is not yet extinct. Royal Challengers, on the other hand, have picked up a nasty choking virus. Their final game is against Chennai on Saturday. If you're a connoisseur of tantrums and hissy fits, I suggest you tune in, as there's at least a 50% chance that Mount Virat will erupt, and this one could be spectacular.
Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England. He tweets here