Delhi's green googly

The spider camera which is used to take visuals from a top angle.-G.P. SAMPATH KUMAR

“Never before was a Twenty20 played on such a track with so much grass on it,” the curator declared rather triumphantly.

With just one win in the bag, Delhi had to find a way out of the basement. Kotla's slumber-inducing strips had ensured that its fast men remained unemployed. A green alert was sounded and pitch doctors were called for ahead of the match against Kings XI Punjab. The resultant coat of herbage would have made environmentalists proud. “Never before was a Twenty20 played on such a track with so much grass on it,” the curator declared rather triumphantly.

Perhaps wary of such threats, Gilchrist won the toss and promptly sent the opposition in. Sehwag didn't mind it too much and, along with the consistent Warner, went about re-discovering his destructive zeal. Delhi blitzed to 231 for four — the third highest total in IPL history. Shaun Marsh's blistering 95 made sure that the chase was on. In the end more than 400 runs were scored on a pitch that was characterised as ‘seamer-friendly'. Delhi won't mind as long as it wins.

Rajasthan routed

“Sar utha ke khelo boys”, Warne urges his team in an ad campaign of the Rajasthan Royals. Such one-liners couldn't have come at a more appropriate time. After winning two matches, Rajasthan spiralled downwards capitulating to 81 in the second leg of its Kolkata fixture. Warne's “weak, soft and embarrassing performance” rant has only led to, well, even miserable displays.

Wickets off no-balls, sixes off free-hits, and muffed chances. Warne's nightmare was complete when Punjab's Marsh tonked him around Mohali. His tweezed eyebrows arched and sunk mostly out of helplessness even as Elizabeth Hurley watched on from the crowd. Punjab's run-rate soared much like the mercury in summer and the wily campaigner could take it no more. Towards the end, he started sledging Dinesh Karthik who chose to use the bat as means of correspondence.

Spider trouble and rain laws

The Post-Packer era has seen television cameras achieve an omniscience breaching more frontiers than most. If incessant reference to the blimp made matters rather untolerable for the TV audience last year, the spider cam has now become a bete noire of a few players on the field. Yuvraj Singh was clearly not a big fan of it. “"I don't think it should come in the way when you are batting or fielding. The one who is operating it should make sure it doesn't come in front of the player.” Yuvi wasn't the only one to complain as opponents Keiron Pollard and Sachin Tendulkar found the thing a distraction as well.

Kings XI Punjab skipper Adam Gilchrist had a point to prove against his former franchise Deccan Chargers.-PTI

Meanwhile, CSK coach Stephen Fleming has called the Duckworth-Lewis rule “rubbish for Twenty20” as his team went down to Kochi in a rain-curtailed encounter. His comments found resonance in the rival camp too as Mahela Jayawardene called for a review in calculating the average score.

The Rhodes effect

Mumbai Indians has lent a powerful dimension to its consistent start this season. Apart from its impregnable top order, the blemishless fielding has stirred up its game by many notches. The game against Sahara Pune Warriors was a testimony to the fact as Pollard, all of six foot many inches, ran in and swooped down at long on to effect a blinder to dismiss Uthappa. Even the captain chipped in with a good catch running backwards.

If that was good, the performance against defending champion Chennai Super Kings hit higher notes. If Pollard accounted for Hussey with a spectacular lunge, Rohit Sharma obviously thought he could do better when he covered ground and dived forward to send Dhoni walking back. There were others too, most notably Andrew Symonds who complemented Harbhajan's bowling efforts on the field. Not surprisingly, Jonty's grin stayed on throughout the night.

Digging up past wounds

It is rare to see Adam Gilchrist lose his cool. But he did while squaring up against his former team Deccan Chargers in Hyderabad. The King's XI Punjab captain struck a match-winning 61 and along with Paul Valthaty (75), who proved that he is no flash in the pan, put the match beyond the Deccan Chargers' grasp.

What was interesting though was Gilchrist's exaggerated celebration after reaching his 50 and the pumped up fist that was markedly pointed to the pavilion box.

British actress and model Elizabeth Hurley cheers for Rajasthan Royals.-PTI

Later Gilchrist refused to give any excuses like ‘oh it was a heat of the moment thing.' Instead the Australian legend said: “Someone from Deccan Chargers badmouthed me. The person knows who he is.” With teams churning and having new combinations, some scars of the past are re-surfacing at the wrong time.

The glamour quotient

A rained out game between the Royal Challengers and the Rajasthan Royals in Bangalore's Chinnaswamy Stadium meant that photographers were bored with constantly clicking the wet covers on the centre square. They did get a reprieve though as Shane Warne's friend Elizabeth Hurley was spotted in the stand adjacent to the pavilion.

Cameras went berserk and Hurley's every move was chronicled in colour, be it drinking a glass of water or applying lipstick while the earlier snapshot of Warne, Dravid and Daniel Vettori having a long-drawn conversation was forgotten.

— Compiled by Arun Venugopal and K. C. Vijaya Kumar