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It was an entertaining first leg of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 in United Arab Emirates (UAE) and there were many moments to remember. Abhijit Banare recaps the UAE leg of the IPL.
1. Shifting the tournament amidst controversies: Hosting the IPL in United Arab Emirates (UAE) was one big last-minute exam preparation for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The examiner in this case was Supreme Court (SC). From bearing the shock of two teams to be barred from playing to changes in the top brass of IPL, the board was running against time with the spot-fixing and betting controversies it had embroiled itself in to. With less than two weeks to prepare, the board finally managed to pull off the inauguration of its cash cow, now in the seventh edition. The last time election caused an issue to shift the IPL venue, someone at the top fell out of favour within the board and is biding his time in United Kingdom (UK).
2. Sharjah tales revised: It’s a bitter-sweet memory at Sharjah. On one hand, there are the elements which could have further tarnished the reputation of the tournament. More than a decade before, the apex court had ruled that Indian team would not play at Sharjah. While on the other hand, the desert storm from Sachin Tendulkar was still alive in people’s mind. But with time, Sharjah has changed. The tents may be intact but the interiors have been given a facelift. For a change, people have something to remember about Sharjah.
3. Jam-packed crowds: Last moment shift in venue, but the IPL still managed to attract the people. With a large presence of Indians, most of the matches saw capacity crowd which turned out to be a big boost for the BCCI and the brand IPL.
4. Glenn Maxwell’s roaring form: When someone is in form, anything is possible in the world of cricket. The latest example: Glenn Maxwell. The only two set of people who sulk when Maxwell performs are the opposition teams and the Mumbai Indians (MI) camp. Termed as the million-dollar baby warming the bench in the MI camp, Maxwell has lit up this season with three consecutive match-winning performances and that was enough to give Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) an invincible feeling as they head to India with a clean sheet this season. Maxwell’s power-hitting has nothing to do with his strength, but pure timing. If he continues this way, there’s no doubt that KXIP will end on top of the table and Maxwell could be called as a T20 legend.
5. Gautam Gambhir and the tale of three ducks: Cricket is a funny game they say. You score runs, you make news; you don’t score runs, you still make news; and you score ducks you make for good news and funnier jokes. Gambhir had walked in to the tournament with some solid performances, but the three consecutive ducks (two of them golden ducks) has dented Gambhir’s confidence. (Catch the detailed series on Ducks in Cricket here)
6. ‘Catches Lynn matches’: Expect Amul to always sum up issues in as few words as possible. Playing only in his second match of the IPL, Chris Lynn kept Australia’s reputation of taking stunning catches intact. To recap the moment, AB de Villiers pulled towards deep midwicket; Lynn slipped while trying to position himself for the catch, and even before he regained balance, he took the catch and fell behind landing inches inside the boundary. If you want a more dramatic version of this catch, click here.
7. Defending Champions gone flat: Five losses in a row — the worst start for any defending champion in the history of IPL. It was expected to be a power-packed team which will be the favourites to win the tournament. But nothing went in the way MI planned. The batsmen failed miserably and the bowlers hardly had anything to bowl to. Michael Hussey, Kieron Pollard, Rohit Sharma — the backbone of batting couldn’t make an impact. Pollard did show his strength in the last match yet that wasn’t enough for them to see them past the finish line. Ambati Rayudu was the highest scorer but not dominating enough to pull of victory single-handedly as Maxwell did.
8. Super Over farewell: It was the penultimate match of the UAE leg and in Ravi Shastri’s words, it was cracker of a game and the spectators got every penny’s worth. There have been many super overs in IPL but not as dramatic as this with many similarities. KKR needed 12 in the last over and so did RR, while playing the super over and both got 11 from it. Keeping aside the argument of how justified it is to determine a match on one over and worse, the number of boundaries scored, it was the perfect entertainment that IPL promises.
As the teams fly back and strategise on what went right, what didn’t and what lies ahead; it’s going to be another segment where the IPL comes back to where it belongs. Hope to see the battle turning out to be intense for the a spot in the last four.
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)
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