Maximum entertainment

Every team, at the receiving end of Glenn Maxwell’s onslaught, should have its share of regrets. The swashbuckler was invariably dropped early in each of his now epoch-making essays. Making the most of those lapses, he went from strength to strength, ripping apart bowling attacks. By A. Joseph Antony.

The first half of Glenn Maxwell’s surname (Max) seems most suited to him. The number of times he has hit the maximum has made him the toast of the cricket-following community of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). These new-found followers will be quite a number, going by the attendance at the matches in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi, with tickets sold out for every game thus far.

Maxwell’s stature has cast a shadow over every other performer. Sixes hit by other batsmen are always compared with those of the adventurous Australian. For instance, the boundary-clearing blows by the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) duo of Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh couldn’t quite satiate some corporate honchos in Sharjah. Maxwell had become the benchmark, so to say.

But, every team, at the receiving end of his onslaught, should have its share of regrets. The swashbuckler was invariably dropped early in each of his now epoch-making essays. Making the most of those lapses, he went from strength to strength, ripping apart bowling attacks.

Maxwell stamped his authority first against the Chennai Super Kings. M. S. Dhoni and company compiled an impressive 205, but the Aussie star, underutilised by his earlier IPL team, had more than a point to prove and that he did with all-pervading authority.

Reputations of the marquee teams seem to have taken a beating early into this tournament. Defending champion Mumbai Indians (MI) losing the first game to the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) was least expected. Similarly, KKR pulled one straight out of the hat against fancied RCB in Sharjah, stealing victory in the concluding over.

The sense of urgency in the game’s shortest format brought out the best in some and not so good in others. Sunrisers Hyderabad, especially its famed batting line-up, seems overrated after its sloppy showing. It surrendered so meekly in its first two engagements that followers were talking of it as a fringe side, whose games could be skipped. The disappointment should be deep for the fans hailing from Hyderabad, who have a large presence in the UAE.

The quality of catching by CSK against the Delhi Daredevils was extraordinary with South African Faf du Plessis leading the pack. KKR’s Chris Lynn also took a blinder against RCB and spectators in Sharjah were fortunate to witness such an effort. Lynn plucked the ball out of thin air, inches away from the rope, to get rid of AB de Villiers.

The enthusiasm for the seventh season of the IPL shows no signs of waning. Well after the games are over, the captains address conferences to the electronic and print media and the teams take their time to head for the waiting buses. Goodly gatherings of men, women and children can be seen waiting patiently to catch glimpses of their heroes and try their luck to click a picture with them.

Even as the mercury hovers in the fiery forties, locals say, the weather here at this time of the year is pleasant. “It can get a lot worse later into the year,” says a long-time resident. Teams playing the first game of the five double-headers had a torrid time, the conditions only easing for the subsequent contest.

The workplace of the photographers, covering the event for those first matches, was certainly no bed of roses. “This is by far the hottest cricket destination I have visited,” says Ron Gaunt of Sportzpics, the BCCI’s official photo agency. “By the time the game’s over, I’ll be a fried chip. Kochi and Chennai can be highly humid though.”

Covering mostly cricket, Ron, who hails from Cape Town, but grew up in England, has also covered the 2010 FIFA World Cup in the Rainbow nation, the 2012 London Olympics and the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

For all the luxury cars zipping through the Emirates at 80kmph and other comforts available at arm’s length, internet connectivity could have been better. The occasional disconnection in the media boxes apart, access to the net is limited in the sense that cyber-cafes are not too many in high-end Dubai. USB modems/data cards are definitely not within reach of the common folks here.

Distances can be deceptive too, much like the mirages of the simmering desert. Even a short walk across a couple of blocks seems to take an eternity and can leave you scalded. The wise thing to do is to rely on the fairly efficient public transport system.

Dubai, with its fabulous metro service and Volvo or Mercedes Benz buses, surely cares for the comfort of the commuters. And of course if you can afford them, the cabs are fine too.

THE SCORES

April 27: Sunrisers Hyderabad 145 for ?ve in 20 overs (A. Finch 44) lost to Chennai Super Kings 146 for ?ve in 19.3 overs (D. Smith 66, B. McCullum 40); Mumbai Indians 125 for six in 20 overs (K. Pollard 33 not out) lost to Delhi Daredevils 126 for four in 18.5 overs (M. Vijay 40).

April 26: Kings XI Punjab 132 for nine in 20 overs (V. Sehwag 37; P. Chawla three for 19, S. Narine three for 24) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 109 all out in 18.2 overs (S. Yadav 34; S. Sharma three for 21); Bangalore Royal Challengers 70 all out in 15 overs (P. Tambe four for 20) lost to Rajasthan Royals 71 for four in 13 overs.

April 25: Mumbai Indians 141 for seven in 20 overs (R. Sharma 50, C. Anderson 39; M. Sharma four for 14) lost to Chennai Super Kings 142 for three in 19 overs (B. McCullum 71 not out); Sunrisers Hyderabad 184 for one in 20 overs(S. Dhawan 33, A. Finch 88 not out, D. Warner 58 not out) beat Delhi Daredevils 180 for four in 20 overs (Q. de Kock 48, M. Vijay 52).

April 24: Kolkata Knight Riders 150 for seven in 20 overs (J. Kallis 43, C. Lynn 45; V. Aaron three for 16) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 148 for ?ve in 20 overs (Y. Takawale 40, V. Kohli 31, Y. Singh 31).

April 23: Chennai Super Kings 140 for six in 20 overs (D. Smith 50, R. Jadeja 36) beat Rajasthan Royals 133 all out in 19.5 overs (R. Jadeja four for 33).

April 22: Kings XI Punjab 193 for six in 20 overs (C. Pujara 35, V. Sehwag 30, G. Maxwell 95; B. Kumar three for 19) beat Sunrisers Hyderabad 121 all out in 19.2 overs (L. Balaji four for 13).

April 21: Chennai Super Kings 177 for seven in 20 overs (S. Raina 56, M. S. Dhoni 32; J. Unadkat three for 32) beat Delhi Daredevils 84 all out in 15.4 overs.