Enough to look back and laugh

Yusuf Pathan… making history.-PTI

IPL 2009 is nothing if it isn�t not about the cricket. Nandita Sridhar takes a light-hearted tongue-in-cheek look at the Highs and Lows of the billion-dollar event so far.

LOWS: STRATEGIC WHAT

It could have been laughable if it wasn't for the shameless subsidising of the game. The strategic timeout - the name no doubt a self-parody - was meant for one team to bemoan the loss of momentum and for the other team to bemoan the chance lost for a chance to lose momentum. Its peripheral benefits included moderate advertising revenues and the success of Strategic Timeout Manual for Dummies.

BUTTER FINGERS

This is justifiably laughable. Frenzied, frantic hitting has seen beautifully choreographed catching lapses. Fielders have dropped catches with complete finesse and yogic sobriety, with the lotus position invoked for grace. But the fielding lapse of the tournament should be credited to the Chennai Super Kings. In one ridiculously hilarious moment against Deccan Chargers, the ball went through 20 different pairs of hands while the batsmen played along with insipid running. This should belong to the highs of the tournament, but there isn't a convincing enough argument to push its cause.

SWITCH KEVIN

Kevin Pietersen could switch-hit to restore world order if it were to come to that; which was why the sight of Daniel Vettori sneaking past the elaborately orchestrated stroke went down as the tournament's lowpoint. What next Virender Sehwag's nervous nineties

HIGH LOWS:

Henceforth, each six will be the culmination of a batsman's skills, temperament, technical mastery and timing, if one were to go by the commentary. Never before have so many superlatives jostled for airtime. Sponsors have queued up in support of every superlative that makes its way out for DLF maximum effect. That's just positively unbelievably brilliant.

SUPER SHOCKER

It was a glimpse into a disturbing future. One1 cricket took flight on the fateful night Rajasthan Royals played Kolkata Knight Riders. A tie took the contest into a Super Over, when both teams were given an over each to determine the winner. Yusuf Pathan became the first batsman in the history of One1 cricket to cross 15 runs. Brace yourselves, for there will be more.

THE MOMENT THAT NEVER WAS

Graham Onions should have been in the IPL. No two ways about it. Enough has been made about his ability to peel the layers, induce tears, and his pungent outswingers in Test match cricket. In Lalit Modi's hands, we would have had low-cholesterol, low-fat, 100% vegetable-oil fried Onion moments of success with every dismissal. Modi is counting his losses.

HIGHS: GAYLE AND HIS GLASSES

Chris Gayle wears sunglasses so he can drift off occasionally, so goes the urban legend. Chris Gayle is a rockstar. The super-cool, ultra-laidback opening batsman has been the least bit coy about the IPL's importance. There was no rhetoric on national versus IPL loyalties, even if he barely escaped playing Test cricket in black and gold. When nothing else worked, Gayle clubbed the ball because it wasn't bling enough. You've got to love the guy.

PROWLING BLOGGER

It began in earnest, but the fakeiplplayer blog has spawned off a number of imitation blogs, notably the fakefakeiplplayer blog and the realfakeiplplayer blog. The blogger, whose well-meaning revelations on the morality and the virtues - both pillars of international sporting success - of players/coaches/team owners at the IPL, is presently leafing through blog sites in search of his originalfakeiplplayer blog.

SREE'S BACK

When everything goes right, he talks. When nothing goes right, he talks. And when he doesn't talk, he talks. S. Sreesanth wasn't at a loss for words when he bagged Matthew Hayden's wicket, courtesy a spot of compulsive hitting; but not before the left-hander singled the bowler out for his macabre best. Most believe they were words of gratitude. If nothing else, Sreesanth makes one relatively appreciate the disapproving elements of the IPL. At least timeouts are the reticent sorts.

FIVE FOR FIVE

Anil Kumble could so easily have made it Ten for Ten, but the Rajasthan batting couldn't grant a leg-spinning legend with more than a thousand wickets, a mere ten runs for symmetry. Nevertheless, the freakish beauty of those figures rested perfectly on Kumble. If anyone could achieve the symmetry, it was Kumble.

D-DAY

Grapevine has it that Chris Gayle's "May the tournament go on forever," pronouncement isn't as eerily prophetic as most fear. A closing date is a definite possibility, however distant it might seem at present; but players and viewers fear that getting closer to it might expose the mirage it actually is. Until then we're left with the dizzying combination of letters, colours and team owners.

CANINE SPEAK

It took a dog reeking of personality to bring the event down on its knees on the opening day match between Chennai and Mumbai. The canine's stay out-timed the strategic timeout by a good four minutes, as the security team tried its utmost to lure it out with whistles, some cajoling and even food. Eventually, an agreement was prepared, but the dog trudged off bored and with the knowledge that it had had a more respectable deal here than what the field's other incumbents had on auction day.