The Indian Premier league (IPL) is now delivering its promise of exciting encounters and tight finishes.
The IPL 2012 edition was under intense scrutiny after the earlier edition saw falling spectators and TV ratings.
This time round, the season did not get off well. Low scores and easy victories marked the first few matches. Doubts began to resurface again whether the IPL had outlived its shelf value.
One match turned it the tournament on its head. And the Deccan Chargers were involved. Played at Vishakapatnam, The Mumbai Indians were struggling to catch up with the Chargers’ total of 139 for nine. The Chargers battled hard and the Mumbai team were made to fight for very run. They were almost there with Mumbai needing 18 runs to win off the last over.
In hindsight, it was a mistake to give Australian Dan Christian the last over. Rohit Sharma came to the party and smashed the last ball for six to take his team home.
This ignited the tournament. Suddenly, all the good things of Twenty20 cricket began to flow. Big hitting, tight finishes and successful big chases were back. The IPL was back in business again.
Chris Gayle opened his sixes tap for Royal Challengers Bangalore and even the spectators were in danger.
In-between Kevin Pietersen played for his team and the gallery in one of the most destructive innings ever in the IPL. He scored an unbeaten 103 which included nine sixes. The Deccan Chargers were once again at the receiving end.
Then chasing a total of 182 against the Pune Warriors India, Bangalore pulled off a last ball win with 24 needed off the last over. AB de Villiers played some audacious shots to lead his team to victory.
In the match, Gayle smashed Rahul Sharma for five consecutive sixes and Saurab Tiwary clinched the match with a six with three needed.
The Bangalore team were earlier hammered by defending champions Chennai Super Kings despite scoring 205 for eight. The Chennai team never looked in the running with 43 needed in the last two over.
But Albie Morkel reaffirmed his reputation for big hitting by taking 28 off Virat’s Kohli’s over. Then Dwayne Bravo collected the 15 needed in the last over, the victory coming in the final ball.
It is too early to predict who will emerge the winner in the tournament. Delhi have looked the strongest so far. But the wily veteran Saurav Ganguly gave them a reality check yesterday when his superb all-round display and captaincy took his Pune team to victory.
Chennai have been a bit up and down but skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has helped them cross the line with some clever batting.
Bangalore have been fairly consistent, thanks to Gayle of course. Kolkata Knight Riders too have been going well so far.
Pune started off brilliantly, then fell off. But they may hit the winning road again after beating Delhi.
The unluckiest team in the IPL has been Deccan Chargers. Lady Luck has been looking elsewhere for them, They have got involved in many close finishes despite some strong performances.
The IPL has already thrown up some future stars. Delhi’s Shahbaz Nadeem’s left-arm spin has proved effective, particularly when used to open the attack. Bangalore’s Mayank Agarwal has been almost matching Gayle when ti comes to hard-hitting.
Then Big Jesse Ryder has begun to show why he is rated so highly in cricketing circles. The fact that is he has gone off the juice may have helped his case.