The fifth edition of the Indian Premier League turned out to be truly magnificent tournament
There was everything for a cricket fan – top quality cricket, close finishes, last ball affairs, big hitting and superb bowling. Add to that the off field dramas, including match-fixing scandals, rave parties, assault and rough behaviour and the mixture was heady enough to make a Bollywood script.
The final between Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings was also pulsating and was won by the former in the last over. And the crowds were there lapping it up at every venue. For the Indian fan, this was a welcome relief after India’s painful displays over the last 12 months or so. National pride was not at stake. Franchise support was easier to handle and the losses easier to digest. It was loads of fun anyway.
There were a few executives who were complaining that the TV ratings were not that great. But the exciting matches, embellished by the eccentric Danny Morrison and Navjot Singh Sidhu, were far better than the predictable plots and stratagems of sitcom families.
There was no shortage of drama. Until the penultimate week, the last four line-up was yet to be decided. And unexpectedly, Chennai retained their place in the top four thanks to the disability of the other contenders.
Every franchise had some hope of making it to the last stage at the latter half of their campaign. For some, things fell apart after a good start. For others like Deccan Chargers, it was the case of being near but yet too far.
Mumbai Indians and Chennai must consider themselves lucky to make it to the top four in the first place. They were fairly inconsistent but scored the big points when it mattered. But once Chennai made it to the final, they switched on the magic. Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was inspirational and the helicopter shot came out of the bag.
The Delhi Daredevils played brilliantly before falling at the last hurdle. Dropping the highest wicket taker of the IPL 2012, Morne Morkel, was shocking and disastrous.
Royal Challengers Bangalore were really unlucky. They had two of the best players in the business in Chris Gayle and A B de Villiers. Yet some poor plays at crucial moments lost them a spot.
Gayle was easily the player of the tournament. He was at his brutal best and the sixes soared higher as he gained in confidence. This was clean hitting not rough hoicks. It is indeed sad that he is spending his peak years picking up orange caps when he should be turning out in the maroon cap for the West Indies.
Another West Indian, Sunil Narine, won the player of the tournament for his mystery spin bowling. He was rarely mastered and was miserly in the runs column.
There were a few young Indian players who matched the hardened professionals and overseas players. Mandeep Singh and Gurkeerat Singh of Kings XI Punjab turned out special performances when it mattered. Fittingly, it was a young Indian player who gave the performance of his life to help Kolkata win. Manvinder Singh Bisla, who replaced Brendon McCallum in decision which could have backfired, played some audacious shots to bring his team back into contention. Finally, after Mission Impossible 4, it was Mission Complete for Kolkata.