May 29, 2012

The best IPL, till date

The recently concluded IPL has been the best edition ever with lot of close finishes and evenly balanced teams. Once again, the league table topper lose a spot in the final. Once again, Mumbai play well in the league games and throw it out in the qualifies. Once again, Chennai struggle in the first half, come back strong and make it to the playoffs (only IPL team to make it in all editions). Never before we have seen 8 teams fighting so closely for a playoff berth. Even those two teams at the bottom of the table were not truly outclassed. They had their own moments and during last-over finishes, ended up on the losing side more times than the successful ones. Kolkata played very well throughout the tournament and they deserve to win the trophy. For the tournament, it is good to have new winners than having the same team re-gain the throne.

Being a CSK-an, what has affected me the most is people's obsession with our luck in making it to the playoff. Let me explain why this should not be called as "Just Luck". CSK equally deserved a playoff spot just as Punjab or Bangalore or Rajasthan did. To finish in the first 4, you need to be consistent throughout and not just the first 14 games. Chennai finished in 17 points from 16 games when Punjab and Rajasthan was on 14 points with two games left, and Bangalore on 15 points with 2 games left. It so happened that Punjab and Rajasthan failed to cross the 17-pointer and Bangalore was pathetic in chasing a meagre 140 odd during its last game. The IPL rules are fairly simple. The consistent ones go through. There is no luck here. This is called "Rules". Luck (or Unlucky) is when an umpire gives a wrong decision. Missed Run out or dropping a catch is not luck. It is the inability of the fielder who failed to hold the nerve in front of a packed, aroused crowd.

Why is everyone thanking Deccan? Why is everyone saying CSK is lucky, I thought. We played equal number of games like any other team did and got points more enough to finish in first-4. Rewind  back to 2 years when MSD thrashed Pathan all over Dharmasala to seal a playoff spot for Chennai after winning the last league game of that year's edition. Had Chennai played its 16th game after every other team did, the story would turn out that "Chennai made it to the playoffs by winning the last game", instead of "Chennai made it just because 3 other teams lost". If Chennai is lucky to have 3 defeats in its favor, then Delhi or Kolkata is even more lucky to have 20-30 defeats among other teams which ensured their spot. This is all relativity and the perspective changes from observer to observer. When a game is lost after giving a 6 of the last ball, everyone would blame it on the bowler who gave the last six. There might've been 10 other sixes given earlier by other bowlers. The game could've been won even by saving one of those 10 sixes but it is that last six which remains in people's heart. That last disaster is what that comes to your mind. This is the reason why Chennai is considered lucky because what followed was defeats in its favor, making it look like LUCK. It is not. Luck is when Chennai make 2-3 points less than Rajasthan or Punjab and still make it to the playoffs. Not when they are ahead of others.

The last one, but not the least one. That Chennai is fixing games. How is it that when Chennai wins - people say "fixed game" but "victory" for other teams? What money does N.Srinivasan have that Mr.Ambani or Mr.Mallaya doesn't? Fixing the outcome of an IPL game is practically impossible because there are so many people involved in the tournament. The max we can do is convince a single player to get out for cheap runs or bowl a intentional no-ball on a  particular period of the game. The possibility of convincing an entire team which is full of international and domestic players deserves laughter. Morne Morkel's absence in the 2nd Qualifier is considered as a means of fixing because Andre Russel who replaced him neither made runs or got wickets. But think about that last game when the aggressive McCullum was replaced by Bisla. Had he not played a brilliant inning and won it for KKR, his swap would also go down as a means of "Fixing". It is good for the game that KKR won, and Bisla played well. Otherwise, the jealously lot out there would consider it as "undoubtedly fixed".

The post match interview of SRK or the response from the Bengal govt (as if their state won the Ranji trophy) was real fun to watch. Hope to see more fun in the Champions league.

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