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Barons of Bombardments, indecipherable code, infectious dance moves and stupefying adroitness in the field have been a special feature of the four West Indian stars who are setting new benchmarks in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Sarang Bhalerao analyses efficacy of each one of these four wunderkinds.
The Smiling Assassin
Can pugnaciousness be beautiful? Can it be path-breaking? It surely is when Christopher Henry Gayle is wielding his willow like a magical wand. A defensive shot is akin to a lull before the Gayle-storm. A dot ball to Gayle is an achievement that bowlers can tell with pride to their grandchildren, long after moth-balling their playing kit. The propensity to thwack the ball at will anywhere within the 360-degree gamut has made Gayle a living nightmare for bowlers around the world. And the consistency with which he keeps unleashing his fury is jaw-dropping.
His 175 against the Pune Warriors armour-plated his status as the most destructive batting force ever in T20 cricket. Yet, what is most endearing about the Jamaican is the joy — as opposed to arrogance that is characteristic of some of the Indian players — in his celebrations. In sharp contrast to the anger and abuse one gets to see from some of the Indian players after reaching a personal milestone, Gayle breaks into a smile and a dance —- the Gangnam Style dance, for which the Jamaican has been an unofficial brand ambassador in the cricketing world. Moments of high need to be celebrated, and that is exactly what the fun-loving West Indian does.
The Mystery Man
Sunil Narine’s mystery confounds many a batsman. Typecasting him as an off-spinner is an exercise in futility. He has a bagful of tricks which arouses a sense of awe. The basic tenets of Narine’s bowling are his unremitting line and length, the ability to keep coming at the batsman, and his mystery element.
There is a fusion of newness and old-fashioned principle to his bowling. The avant-gardism is in the way Narine holds the ball. The MCC coaching manual has not yet captured that style of bowling. The traditional approach is in the way in which Narine believes in beating the batsman in the air, inviting the batsman to have a go at him — buying the wicket. This is a diminishing knack in this day and age of slam-bang cricket.
CSK’s Go-to man
He is Chennai Super Kings’ go-to man. He has masterminded tense, but successful run-chases, and bowled at the death with stunning effectiveness. But Dwayne Bravo’s dance moves have grabbed many eyeballs as well. Like Gayle, Bravo is living example that cricket — at least the IPL variety — can be played professionally and yet create a party-like ambience that spreads joy around the field and beyond. His presence helps lighten up the tension for his fellow players, helping them to give their best.
The Incredible Hulk
The unpretentious Kieron Pollard has been the face of Mumbai Indians and their saviour with the bat, with the ball and his height. On a couple of occasions in this year’s IPL, his height was the sole differentiator between the teams. The catch of Mahendra Singh Dhoni at Chennai turned the tide in Mumbai’s favour, while his catch to dismiss Shaun Marsh made people wonder if he was from some other planet!
His batting has been under-utilised, yet whenever someone needs to stand up and take responsibility Pollard is always there. One can never discount Pollard out of the game — ever.
These disparate intrinsic qualities have added a shimmer to the IPL. It is hard to imagine the league without these iridescent virtuosos. They have given cricket aficionados reasons to cheer, smile and marvel with their exploits by just being themselves without any affectations.
(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with his knowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitter here)
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