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A great spectacle

A great spectacle
Highlights

There is no denying that the eleventh season of Indian Premier League (IPL), which concluded as a spectacular triple for Chennai Super Kings (CSK) late Sunday night, was a smashing hit from all angles. 

There is no denying that the eleventh season of Indian Premier League (IPL), which concluded as a spectacular triple for Chennai Super Kings (CSK) late Sunday night, was a smashing hit from all angles.

More than anything, despite hiccups here and there, the roaring success of the sport’s shortest format makes for a brilliant advertisement for the gentleman’s game even as two new members have been included in the Test fold. In a way, this was perhaps the first edition of the cash-rich championship that has been devoid of any scandals that had become a middle name for this brand of cricket.

The cleanest edition has had its customary highs and lows-big names coming a cropper; pretenders to the throne announcing that they were battle-ready for the highest echelons; fancied and pre-tournament favourites biting the dust in a most embarrassing manner while the best performing outfit in the league stage, Kings XI Punjab, choked in the knockouts.

In retrospective, what has been a good indicator is that several promising youngsters have managed to come out of the shadows of the larger-than-life teammates and cornered glory with remarkable finesse. If Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) skipper Kane Williamson (Orange Cap winner), Chris Gayle in the initial stages, Virat Kohli, Ambati Rayudu, Jos Buttler, Krunal Pandya and Umesh Yadav held on to their individual reputations, matching them in heroics stroke for stroke and ball for ball were outstanding rookies like Delhi Daredevils' wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant (Emerging Player of IPL 11), Kings XI pacer Andrew Tye, who received the Purple Cap, and KL Rahul. However, the standout performers were Afghanistan’s hugely gifted Rashid Khan and West Indian Sunil Narine, both of whom not only demonstrated wizardry in their craft but also revelled while wielding the willow with gay abandon, particularly when it mattered most.

There is no denying that despite the fans supporting their respective favourites, an overwhelming backing (more sentimental in nature) was for the Dhoni-led team that was back in action after a two-year hiatus. Interestingly, the other ‘rehabilitated’ squad, Rajasthan Royals, was not perceived as a top contender. One cannot discount the Dhoni factor in this changed equation. On his part, he delivered to the fullest.

Not surprisingly, by leading from the front, and demonstrating the agility of a teenager both while behind the stumps and running between the wickets, he has effectively silenced his critics, who opined that he was ‘past his prime as age was catching up’. In his own flamboyant style, the battle-scarred ‘Captain Cool’ has proved that age is never a factor when it comes to living up to the challenge and delivering the goods.

Shane Watson’s crème de la crème in the finals is another example as one belonging to this ageless league. The best description of the latest IPL comes from South African pacer Lungi Ngidi, playing for the eventual champion. Indeed, it has been a ‘roller-coaster of emotions’ till the very last ball of the tournament, which is, undoubtedly, what makes cricket such a big draw, notwithstanding the fixing controversies.

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