What a smashing IPL we have had so far. Just about every match has either gone down till the final over or a game has been finished with a batter hammering more than 25 runs in an over. It’s been nail-biting stuff and some of the hitting that’s been seen is the cleanest witnessed for a long, long time. The beauty is these shots have not been crude ones but great connections with a perfect swing that has taken the bat over the front shoulder in what the coaches would call the ideal follow through. There have been some terrific final overs too, where the fast yorker has stopped the batters from swinging their bats and some of these yorkers have crashed on to the stumps, breaking the odd one, too.
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All this has been possible because of the quality of the pitches, which has been absolutely great. The curators have done a fabulous job so far and the old saying that a ‘good wicket (pitch) provides good cricket’ has been seen in the matches so far. Since there are only four venues and with each venue getting a minimum of 15 matches, the curators had to leave some grass cover on the surface to ensure the hot summer sun doesn’t dry it up and the ball starts turning square. It has given the new ball bowlers the chance to show their seam bowling skills and in the Power Play overs they have taken wickets and not just looked to stop the runs as is otherwise the case. The grass on the pitch has also exposed the the human frailties of the ‘Dadas’ of domestic cricket who suddenly find that with the ball coming above the waist at good pace, they are unable to toy with the bowling line as they do in the Vijay Hazare and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy on pitches which have no grass at all. The white ball game allows the batsman to back away to try and counter the bouncing ball and the ignorant think that the batsman is trying to make room to play a shot. But more often than not, it’s the ‘Dadas’ trying to protect their bodies despite the heavy protection. Some of the international stars have also found it tough to counter the bouncing, moving ball and hung their bats out and have been dismissed limply.
Quality batsmen, who use the backfoot, have batted superbly and flourished because the ball is coming onto the bat quite nicely, so once the ball stops moving the batter can play through the line without worrying about any sideways movement.
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The other noticeable thing is the number of no balls that have been bowled even by established names. This is nothing short of being unprofessional and quite frankly there’s no excuse for it. In the T20 format every no ball means not only an extra run added to the opposition total and an extra ball to be delivered and that extra next ball is a free hit, too, which can be the one that can actually change the momentum of the game.
While most times allowance is given to a fast bowler coming off a long run-up, if he bowls a no ball, today with tape measures and other technical help there, really, is no excuse for bowling a no ball which can change the course of the game. If I was the coach I would have a heavy fine system in place for a no ball bowled and the fine to the bowling coach, too, and the fines collected can be used for a party with which to end the campaign. If the fines are heavy enough you can be sure the no balls will simply not happen. Since the modern player talks about doing things within his control then not bowling no balls should be within his control, isn’t it?
With the kind of fees that top players get and most deservedly for some, it’s incumbent on a player to ensure that he does everything within his powers to be the best he can for the franchise that has splashed some good dosh for him.
Hopefully as the tournament progresses we will see less no balls but more and more of the big shots that have brought so much joy to those at the ground as well as the millions watching on TV and their mobile devices.
Go IPL. Go.