Sunday, 11 May 2008

A Game Full Of Breathtaking Highs !

Cross-posted on The DLF Indian Premier League.

Woohooo !! What a game that was last night ! One of the best in the IPL so far, if not as close as some of the others ! I was there once again right in the thick of the action ! The last couple of games had been a bit low-key what with them being scheduled on weekdays and Chennai losing out. But on Saturday night, the Chidambaram Stadium was once again packed to the rafters - for the first time since .. ummm .. the Kolkata game yeah ! And Dhoni and his boys did not disappoint.

It is hard for me to pinpoint what was the highlight of the the night ! Was it the sight of the world's best bowler, Muralitharan and the best batsman Sangakkara, donning opposite colors, meeting at the center of the ground before the game ? Was it Preity Zinta arriving at the stadium from the gate right next to the stand where I was sitting and then moving along the boundary ? Was it Badrinath smashing the ball and in particular being the first batsman in the IPL (need to check this) to maximize the free hit ? Or was it Dhoni's two big hits each of which landed a few feet either side of me ? Or those by Marsh that cleared the ground with so much ease ? Finally, was it that fantastic spell by the folk-hero Laxmipathy Balaji ?


The King's X1 were easily one of the more sporting teams to have arrived in Chennai - particularly the Sri Lankans in the squad. That meeting between Sangakarra and Murali was quite clearly a photo moment (as was Preity's entry later, Preity actually looks prettier in person than on camera, a rare phenomenon) - of course I could capture neither due to my lack of possession of a decent camera-phone. Later, during the game I could see Jayawardene helping out Chawla, patting him on the back and giving him tips when he was being hammered.

Badrinath's batting was superb. For long I wanted to see this guy in action having heard raving reviews about him from Tamil Nadu cricket followers. Dhoni really took to Chawla but preferred to play out his other team-mates, Irfan and Sreesanth, both of whom bowled really well I thought. At one point when Sreesanth bowled Dhoni a bouncer, Yuvraj came up and had some words - I don't know what he said, but clearly Yuvi was in quite a foul mood today and that was not elevated when he flopped royally when batting.

180 was a fair score, though by no means a massive one. But we got behind the home team from ball one when they were in the field and made such a noise that the pressure was huge on the visitors. The fielding at the start was quite brilliant, especially with Murali hitting the stumps with great regularity. And on a couple of occasions when some of the fielders were sloppy, Dhoni really let go at them and asked them to focus. Well, Shaun Marsh did hit some towering sixes right out off the ground, but once Balaji got himself into the act there was only really going to be one winner.

Balaji may have only briefly shone on the cricket field, but already he is a mini-legend. Not entirely for his cricketing skills, which incidentally, are substantial, but also for his massive, easy almost casual smile and his long locks of hair. Just ask the Pakistani girls who saw him in 2004. The Balaji of today is much slower in pace, than in his heyday and with a remodeled action, yet the skill is still there. Last night he got surprising bounce that none of the other bowlers on show could manage and first destroyed the threatening partnership of Sarwan and Marsh. And finally when his good friend Irfan was looking like spoiling the party for Chennai he came up with that unbelievable sensational hat-trick which will not merely go down in history books, but also in the folklore of Chennai cricket for generations to come.

Once again, a close game with a local hero coming up trumps in the final act with the whole stadium cheering form. The best formula for an IPL game, in my opinion. With Badrinath and Balaji being the main protagonists in this act, the Super Kings look serious title contenders once more and this time based on local talent than imported.

12 comments:

praveen said...

Nice Post Gaurav..!
well, for me the hat-trick is secondary. first the wicket of marsh and yuvraj has handed the game to us. we have to give credit to gony and morkel who gave the initial wickets and controlled the game in the fitst 6 overs. the murali and balaji has done very well in the middle overs.

ya, we slipped in d middle giving away too many runs to pathan and chawla. but finally we won..

for me the players of the day was :

badrinath
raina
dhoni
balaji

see, in every game, someone is taking responsibility that shows we are one of the main contenders for title.. Hope we will take that.

last but no least.. my caption is doing really well and he is on the top 5 run getters list. GO DHONI GO................>>>>>>

Anonymous said...

Any idea why Kings XI got only 5 points for the fair play award?

praveen said...

maybe becoz of VRV singh exchanged words with badrinath

Gaurav said...

I saw that while Dhoni was facing Sreesanth Yuvi walked up to MS and said something ... that could also have something to do with it.

Muru said...

The victory was handed over by Kings X1. It is upset to see the opener fails again. The middle order may not shines in all the game. 37 runs scored in last 05 over because of the fear of wicket. Good bowlings also good be capitalized by taking the risk if there is no fear. The marsh & Yovi wicket swinged the game.

It is time think again the batting order. It doesn't look good to Fleming to open the innings as it seems he doesn't know how to play during power play. He gave away his wicket in the midwicket area. It happened 02 or 03 times I think. He should know there would more people in the circle during the power play. He should played over the top. You need special skill to play during power play.

No doubt, Fleming is very good batsman but use him the middle. He is capable to manipulating the score even if the top order goes.

Vidyut should take long breath after making nice shots. Not to try all when is not necessary. After 02 consecutive fours, the third shot was not that necessary during that pressure.

If we want to get going we should have the batting order as

Raina
Kapugedra
Vidyut,
Badrinath
Fleming
Dhoni
Morkel

Will have make us of Ntini & Murali by providing good oppurtunites. Hope the Eden garden would give them a chance to swing the ball.

Hope we are in a good track. Let us hope we meet Rajastan in final.

Gaurav said...

Kapugedera at the top is an option worth considering. However I still feel that Flem's poor run is a result of lack of form, or some mental issue, not because he is incapable of playing at the top.

praveen said...

Kapugedera nice choice.. professional opening batsman.. maybe he will in next match

Robin said...

I am also sure that we may soon see Kapugedera as a opener.. sooner than later..

hahaha said...

jus how good is this kapugedera ppl? someone told me he has a high score of 96 in t20... and muru i think u are wrong bro... the game wasnt handed to us... i beleive we took it from them... the game against rc, that was handin it to us on a platter.... this wasnt.... anyway it doesnt really matter as long as it's chennai tat won...

Robin said...

@ haha,
But the recent rumours from CSK dressing room suggest that Ntini may play in today's match ahead of Kapugedera..

Raghav(hahaha) said...

@robin
tat's good... we need ntini, even if he doesnt seem to take a lotta wickets right now... he's still the best bowler we have.... and next year around, i guess we shud buy a good indian bowler... i dont think we can rely on morkel or oram.... though balaji and gony have looked quite good... rp singh, dinda or ishanth maybe???

Robin said...

@ Raghav,
Remember one of our Indian bowlers - Sudeep Tyagi (Highest wicket taker in the last domestic season) missed out of this year's IPL because of injury.. So his presence would surely boost the bowling... So with Balaji in full flow + Gony + Tyagi + Oram + Murali/Morkel, our bowling could trouble any team...