IPL 13 - an enjoyable cricketing celebration ends
The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, goes an English proverb. Shreyas Iyer and members of his Delhi Capitals team will probably console themselves thinking that way after the rout in the IPL 13 final! Little else can be said for defending champion Mumbai Indians' dominance was all too powerful. If Trent Boult unleashed the thunderbolts then skipper Rohit Sharma, defying all speculations of his fitness, provided the winning touch as the Mumbai team recorded its fifth triumph and like Chennai Super Kings once before, added back-to-back titles. In what was expected to be a toast of this year's edition, it ended on a touch stale affair on Tuesday night and perhaps disappointment too in a way to the millions of viewers who would have taken time off to ensure they did not miss any action of what was billed as a rousing climax.
Nonetheless, cricket was the winner, no questions there. It was not as though standards were low or efforts were wanting. When a team loses a key player like Marcus Stoinis, the hero in the previous match, facing the very first ball, it is never easy. Like a boxer who gets floored early from a hard knock and tries to recover on his tottering feet, Delhi Capitals tried to rise but the damage was done. What stood out was the ability of Mumbai Indians to seize the initiative and never look back. It was an exhibition of a side confident in what it did and flashy in how it executed. Rohit proved his mettle even as he added a few more personal landmarks. This was his 200th match, only the second player to achieve this after M.S. Dhoni and the win was also his personal 6th, one when he was part of Deccan Chargers.
Thus ended a 60-match event in all success with the night skies of Dubai lighting up with streaks of fireworks to signal the final moments. All told it was an enjoyable cricket feast. Just eight teams but what level of excitement unfolded before picking the one winner. For close to nearly two months, no cricket fan would definitely have missed the daily action that unfolded on the television. Indeed IPL 13 proved a welcome departure from the mundane sports activity that the pandemic had brought up in its wake. Credit has to go the BCCI and the Gulf organisers for ensuring that this premier cricket event, which according to reports recorded over 30 per cent jump in viewership per match, went off smoothly. Over 350 million viewers had enjoyed the fare in the first four weeks itself and it could have been many millions more by the time the last ball was bowled in this most sought after annual cricketing bonanza.
The pandemic did not bring the enthusiasm down with the organisers, the players and to be sure the doting fans. These were indeed difficult times and that is essentially why IPL 13 had to be outsourced and not conducted in the country itself. Getting the players, officials and all connected with the various teams into a Bio-Bubble as they say is no easy task. Thereafter ensuring a bio-safe environment to play is another tough task. The players responded commendably it must be said, despite the fact that there was none in the stands to provide them the sporting responses for the various acts on the field. That there was no lack of inspiration was reflected in the way the players responded to the demands. Each contest was surfeit with the excitement of the sixes and fours reserved for the television viewers to enjoy in the comforts of home! As for the contests, there were surprises and there were disappointments.
Except for Mumbai Indians which stormed its way into the final with the air of a mighty performer that it has been in the IPL, no other team had such smooth sailing. Chennai Super Kings, the last year's runner up, was ironically the biggest disappointment, falling by the way side even before the playoffs. That it was not until the final moments of the league phase could the three qualifiers to join Mumbai side, get identified should give an insight into what the level of excitement, the ups and downs and the desperateness for a win had ruled the hard-fought competition. But as always the team that got its act together reaped the rewards.
In this cauldron of high intensity competition, it must be said there have been some good take aways for Indian cricket. The one who shot into limelight in the end stages had to be the Tamil Nadu young man T. Natarajan, who is truly enacting a rags-to-riches script in life. A daily wage worker's son, this man from a remote village in Salem has risen in stature and found his way into the national team after his exhibition of probing yorkers caught the eye of all those who mattered. To say he was a find of this IPL will be an understatement. Already experts see in him rising into a champion left arm bowler who would add a new dimension to India's bowling attack. There is thus more to IPL than mere cricketing excitement!