Bowling the last over thrice in two matches!

Hanuma Vihari (right) of Sunrisers Hyderabad is the Man of the Match against Royal Challengers Bangalore.-PTI Hanuma Vihari (right) of Sunrisers Hyderabad is the Man of the Match against Royal Challengers Bangalore.

One of the key purposes of the tournament — to promote young Indian talent — was realised very early on.

Even as most fans confined their assessment of the IPL to a strictly simplistic level — either good or evil — the high-profile, laden-with-riches league rolled into town, neither with inconspicuousness nor with excessive grandeur. The opening ceremony, for instance, was unadorned of any novelty; whatever glitz had to be exhibited was overshadowed by the sheer monotony of it all. Simple, if you had watched last year’s inaugural function, you could have gladly given this year’s a skip.

Unintended humour was also in full flow once the tournament began. While Sanjay Manjrekar invoked the former title sponsor’s name inadvertently, Rameez Raja couldn’t distinguish between Rohit and Rahul Sharma. Consequently, he attributed a hat-trick wrongly to the latter! And then, there was the player-recall exercise that captains fail miserably at. Mahela Jayawardene couldn’t remember, during the toss, the name of his fourth foreign player. Thankfully, and a bit embarrassingly, for him, his counterpart Rahul Dravid prompted Johan Botha’s name.

Nevertheless, this year’s IPL has already had many a thrilling moment. Sportstar brings to you some of those from the first seven matches:

Binga’s first strike

Charging, leaping and pushing an already clamorous, packed Eden Gardens crowd to the brink of delightful insanity, Brett ‘Binga’ Lee had just provided what was sure to feature as the prime visual in the end-of-the-tournament montage.

Unleashing a top-notch outswinger to displace under-19 World Cup-winning captain Unmukt Chand’s off-stump, Lee struck off the very first ball of IPL-6. His return-to-boyhood celebrations, flavoured with outstretched arms and the most effortless of smiles, was just about the ideal follow-up.

Perfect start... Kolkata Knight Riders’ Brett Lee is ecstatic after dismissing Delhi Daredevils’ Unmukt Chand off the very first ball of IPL-6.-K.R. DEEPAK

The very next ball was dealt with a cute flick to the fence by that merchant of silky strokes, Jayawardene. Although the match itself didn’t turn out to be much of a nail-biter — Kolkata Knight Riders went past Delhi Daredevils by six wickets — the start went some way towards shaking off pre-tournament pessimism.

Vinay’s last-over connection

In Royal Challengers Bangalore’s first two games, Vinay Kumar found himself plying the rather stressful trade of bowling the last over thrice. Yes, thrice and not twice. Before we go into how he ended up delivering the last over for the third time, let’s take a look at what happened on the first two occasions.

Against Mumbai Indians at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore, the Karnataka medium-pacer was tasked with defending 10 runs. He responded by dismissing the dangerous K. Dinesh Karthik and Ambati Rayudu in successive deliveries. Then, confronted by the mighty Kieron Pollard, Vinay stayed on course and presented his team with a two-run victory.

Three days later, in Hyderabad, he had a thinner cover. Sunrisers Hyderabad required seven runs after 21 runs were conceded in the 18th and 19th overs (Vinay himself giving away 14 runs in the 18th).

But he adhered to the same mix-and-match style that had served him so dutifully in the Mumbai game. A combination of doughty batting and slack fielding, however, took the match into the realm of Super Over.

All-round show... Mumbai Indians' Kieron Pollard on a roll against Chennai Super Kings.-V. GANESAN

Would Vinay turn out to be third-time lucky? Turned out it wasn’t to be. An over-the-waist full toss off the first ball was the harbinger of what was to follow. Cameron White reeled off two sixes to take his team’s total to 20. RCB, for all of Chris Gayle’s might, couldn’t surpass it. Realising the threat such nerve-wracking finishes posed for the health of his hair, skipper Virat Kohli hoped for no more last-over climaxes. As for Vinay, well, you win some, you lose some. Chin up.

While some teams rise…

The now-defunct Deccan Chargers had a horrific run in the IPL last year. To rub salt ever so vigorously into its wound, the team found it near-impossible to break the spell of defeats at home, in Hyderabad.

The newly-formed Sunrisers Hyderabad franchise has, at the very least, had an encouraging beginning with two wins in as many games. The fans have been pleasantly surprised. And the swelling crowds are a fallout of that.

…others continue to falter

Pune Warriors has had the going tough ever since its maiden appearance in 2011.

Last year was perhaps its worst as it finished last in the league. With the worst possibly behind it, the team would have hoped to kick off proceedings on a brighter note.

But the Angelo Mathews-led side has stumbled twice — first, failing to chase down Sunrisers’ 126 and then being overpowered by Kings XI Punjab, which registered an eight-wicket win. New coach Allan Donald would desperately want a win. About time his troops gifted him with one, for starters.

Caribbean delight

It’s still early days in the IPL but cricketers from the West Indies have already managed to grab a chunky share of the spoils. Sunil Narine, the mystery spinner with an equally remarkable hairdo, set the tone by winning the Man of the Match award for his four-wicket haul against Delhi. It was Gayle’s turn soon after, to discharge his duties as the principal marauder, against Mumbai Indians.

Finally receiving an opportunity to bat up the order, Pollard’s all-round effort translated into two points for Mumbai. The relatively less-heralded Kevon Cooper, too, wasn’t going to remain a laggard.

His icy-cool temperament made the difference for Rajasthan Royals against Delhi Daredevils.

Coming of age

One of the key purposes of the tournament — to promote young Indian talent — was realised very early on. It was Jasprit Bumrah, the 19-year-old seamer from Gujarat, who proved to be an unlikely trump card for Mumbai.

Possessing an odd action characterised by minimal use of the non-bowling arm, he sent back three RCB batsmen.

For the Sunrisers, it was Kakinada-lad G. Hanuma Vihari, member of the under-19 World Cup winning team, who guided a tense chase against the Bangalore side. Another 19-year-old, Manan Vohra from Punjab, wouldn’t have a bar of the ‘nerves’ talk, compiling an unbeaten 28-ball 43 in Kings XI’s demolition of Pune.

Compiled by Arun Venugopal