Posts Tagged ‘IPL’


 

In this episode, The Couch Expert’s Goutham Chakravarthi catches up with ESPNCricinfo’s Senior Sub Editor Shashank Kishore (@CaptainShanky) to discuss his career from an Electronics Engineer to covering cricket around the world. Specific focus on India’s domestic scene, youngsters to keep an eye on & the challenges with creating a competitive landscape with 37 teams participating following the Lodha Committee Recommendations.

 

Introduction Music: Composer and singer – Rakesh Salian

Guest: Shashank Kishore, Senior Sub Editor, ESPNCricinfo; Goutham Chakravarthi

Moderator: Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

 


 

In this episode, The CouchExpert discusses the last decade of IPL cricket – specifically with regards to Royal Challengers Bangalore & Chennai Super Kings. The panel discuss key memories, what went right, what went wrong and the road ahead for both these franchises. Specific questions around Kohli’s captaincy invoke raw emotions from the RCB camp, while the CSK camp ponder over who the right man will be to replace MS Dhoni when he calls it time on his career.

 

 

Introduction Music: Composer and singer – Rakesh Salian

Panelists: Goutham Chakravarthi, Akshay Balachandra, Suhas Srinidhi, Srikaanth Niranjan Anand

Moderator: Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

 


Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

It probably isn’t unfair to say that the berth atop the ICC Test Rankings, historically, hasn’t been a paradise for teams that have scaled it. Idealists would find it easy to argue that the current and former number one teams have had questionable, if not in entirety, rises to the top – England’s failure in the sub-continent, and India’s predominantly home-series wins adding alibi to their theories.

English fans, now, find themselves being stopped short of being wildly idealistic. What seems profound here is that despite victories (and draws) against tough overseas opponents on foreign soil (barring their quest in the sub-continent), England finds itself basked amidst vicissitudes of press coverage stating ‘too much cricket’ as an excuse for their exponential dip in form in the ongoing series against the Proteas. Isn’t this true for almost the entire set of test playing nations, or at least the top six nations?

World records may not hold great importance if it doesn’t help achieve a significant team result. © BBC

True, just like how the blackout in Northern India has highlighted our dependence on diesel, there have been enough presumptions with regard to England’s dependency on seam-friendly tracks. It wasn’t too long ago in the timeline when the English selectors (rather Andy Flower) had a pleasant headache over the pace bowlers they needed to leave out of an eleven being fielded. Even KP’s antics did little to overshadow the confidence that they had built as a test unit under Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower.

But, isn’t it common these days to witness sparse differences in standards between teams (or if we extend this to organizations in general) vying for pole position? It is healthy, as a fan, to witness intense battles between teams that look not only strong on paper, but have the firepower to back it up on the field.

A nascent advantage of the billions of cash reserves in the Middle East has been the creation of stronger clubs (through foreign ownership) to compete against the cliché of names one usually comes across in the European leagues. Chelsea, for one, given how they’d been a dominant force not too long ago under the billions of Roman and reign of Mourinho, finished sixth last season – it wasn’t ‘too much football’, but stronger competitors.

Fortunately, cricket is witnessing the same. Just to drift slightly off here – as much as I’d love to call the current New Zealand team a touch below par, the resurgence of West Indies (too early to say?), owing to the return of Chris Gayle at the top of the order, has been a welcome sight to most of us.

In paper, they may hardly seem like teams being overworked. Chris Gayle, players competing in the IPL, WICB issues have, in the past, camouflaged substantial on-field press coverage (barring the Ramdin ‘paperwork’ during the series against England). The change in tutorship at New Zealand has received a little more space than an obituary in newspapers here. But they’re competing all right.

Coming back to the perennial issue highlighted earlier – packed calendars don’t help. Agreed. Much has been written in the footballing circles about how players get jaded after a long season (domestic, league, continental competitions adding to the toll) followed by international commitments. And by the time they’re done with it, the new season beckons – it isn’t uncommon to see players who’ve undergone the wrath of such schedules sit out of contention for the best part of August.

Cricket is equally, if not more, demanding in terms of fitness (probably more mental owing to the long stretches of tours away from home). Unlike football (and I’m sure football purists would disagree here), there’s very little space for error in the game of cricket – a lapse of concentration could cost a batsman his wicket, a fielder a catch and a bowler a wayward  line/length. Add to all this media hype and expectations (something which I believe dearly affects teams like England  and India, more than other teams around) – the end result is a volatile cocktail.

So, have teams at the top been victims of everything (and everyone) but themselves? It is as much about hype and expectations, as it is about packed schedules. The modern day sportsman is trained (through a combination of well-structured training programs catering to the mental aspects of sport) to cope with expectations of a nation, and the glaring eyes of the world.

But few cross the line that differentiates the best from the rest. A double hundred in a dead-rubber test on a flat wicket deserves to be dwarfed to insignificance when compared to a half century on a trying wicket that saves a test. Only when the cricketing community starts setting such standards and yardsticks, will we see the crop of players rise up and deliver.

Let me recall an interesting anecdote I heard from a source (this isn’t fiction) regarding Don Bradman’s reaction, when quizzed by an Australian journalist, after Brian Charles Lara had scored a record breaking 375 against the touring Englishmen in Antigua. The Don, apparently, had replied ‘Okay’.

Assuming that age had caught up with the Don, the journalist repeated his question (understandably more pronounced) to get the entirety of the message across. The Don, once again, without batting an eyelid, replied ‘Okay’  When quizzed further, The Don had said: ‘On a flat wicket, against a scrawny bowling attack in a Test which wasn’t heading towards a result, what more can I say?’

The journalist decided to pose his question thus: ‘Sir, how much do you reckon you’d have scored had you been in this situation?’. The Don thought for a while and said ‘Maybe 260 … or 270.’ Presuming that age had taken a toll on his thinking, the journalist asked ‘Sir, but he scored 375. You’re saying you’d have 260. And you’re not rating his knock too.’

To which The Great Man replied: ‘I’m 85, he’s just a 23 year old kid.’

Maybe, that is what greatness is about.


Niranjan K

By the time you read this, IPL’s relevance would have been long gone. And its only 3 days since the great Indian circus got over. Ever wonder why IPL is losing popularity? It is because of the controversies that when it’s over, people gasp with a ‘Finally!’. So, movie channels can now shift their premier movies to their original prime time of 9pm. New programs are launched in various channels. People start reading books again. We don’t have to endure Navjot Singh Sidhu and an array of stupid presenters in MAX who sell products rather than call the match. (I wonder how IPL will look like if ESPN broadcasts it with Harsha as the host).

IPL has a new champion in KKR and deservedly so. In fact the four teams that made it to the playoffs took their rightful place. I know a lot of you will go bonkers that CSK didn’t deserve to be there. True CSK had a lukewarm season in their standards but then none of the 5 eliminated teams grabbed their chances did they? KKR and Delhi looked like finalists from the first weekend. In the business end, one team choked and the other kept its resolve. MI were their usual underachievers self while CSK showed in the end why they are a champion side, brushing aside MI and DD in the playoffs with such disdain. I can hear a lot of “fixing” groans already. Let’s debate it in the end and keep Cricket first shall we?

The question doesn’t seem to have a conclusive answers

The Kolkata Knight Riders had but one agenda when they started the campaign. Win it. It is not like other teams did not but they had that resolve about them. DD were lazy at times I thought, just like their captain. KKR flourished with a captain who was all out to prove, both about his leadership and his team’s capability. Sunil Narine was their trump card while Kallis and Balaji contributed immensely. But if Gambhir struggles then KKR will struggle big time. That they won despite Yusuf Pathan woeful form tells something. Mumbai Indians faltered to deceive while CSK didn’t really set the tournament ablaze like how they were supposed to. They were poor by their own standards (except fielding that is) and didn’t really deserve the hat-trick.

But the real questions lay outside the cricket ground. That IPL needed controversies to improve RATINGS is a shame on the game itself. Initially, IPL was driven by the frenzy of cricket madness. With 5 seasons behind, there is still not a single defining rivalry in IPL. CSK-RCB has the potential but will take years to reach where a Liverpool-Manchester United rivalry is now. Both neighboring cities and both have beaten each other in crunch games, though CSK is ahead in the rivalry. But when are we going to see an El Classico types? That improves ratings, not some SRK bullshit. Ever consider why people don’t talk about IPL weeks after it’s gone like the Ashes or an Indo-Australia series? I guess the onus for this soon-will-be failure of IPL has to be put on both the organizers and the people. The organizers are happy with providing what people want rather than what they should have. And people are dumb enough to care about gossips. Is it because more women watch cricket these days? Just kidding!

Now the whole “fixing” game… With so much money involved and that too in India, it is so much easy to connect the dots to match fixing. Sure one can’t refute it. But people tend to get over emotional about the whole fixing part. See the thing with high octane matches is, you can really have a plan. So if it is about a bowler bowing low full tosses and it turns out to be a yorker, where is your planning there? The best thing about cricket is its unpredictability, even for the players. And people talk about how CSK got into the finals despite being out of form. They point to the fact that Chepauk is the venue for the final and a “crowd“ is needed at the ground. CSK played their first qualifier in Bangalore and the stadium was full, filled three quarters with yellow. Last year I watched the 2nd qualifier and the final at Chepauk. The 2nd qualifier between MI and RCB was watched by over 30000 people and the ground was buzzing for Gayle and Sachin. So I don’t see the stadium-full theory as convincing from people who are quick to post “IPL is fixed”.

Here’s my point. If IPL is fixed, then logically the players are the cheaters. Those include the likes of Dravid, Ganguly (Who famously lead India with distinction after the match fixing era), Hussey, Steyn, Kallis, Fleming and a certain Mr. Sachin Tendulkar. Are these great players, cheaters in their country colors too?  N Srinivasan heads the most influential cricketing board in the world whose country won the World Cup last year. So the ones who are quick to brandish him as a fixer, are they ready to say that him and Sharath Pawar scripted the World Cup win for India? There is only so much in sport that is run by the brain. Mostly it is the heart and instinct that fuels the players in that less-than-a-second time to react to a ball. Can’t cheat that can we?


Niranjan K

There is a lot of bullshitting about the Chennai Super Kings over how they make it to the playoffs every season. N Srinivasan scripts all of CSK’s wins from his bathroom, politics, blah blah blah. While there is no denying that the IPL is full of controversy, why is that CSK always paraded as the team to hate just because they are so good? Now, I am from the same state but that’s not the reason why I like the CSK.

So for all those who hate CSK, read this if you have any idea how a premier league has to be played. For those who love CSK, here are tem seasons to know why.

CSK: Giants of the IPL

1. CSK is the only team to embrace the concept of a domestic league in the right way. There is a very CHENNAI flavor in every aspect of CSK. The ‘Whistle Podu’ theme belongs to Chennai. Isn’t there one flavor that you can connect to a Mumbai or a Kolkatta or a Jaipur? Do Punjabis really need Priety Zinta to dance for them..?

2. CSK is the only team to have embraced the concept of a club properly. Faf Du Plessis was an unknown when CSK signed him 2 years ago. Now he’s our leading scorer. That’s what successful EPL teams to. That’s what we do.

3. The dressing room of CSK is widely known as the happiest of all if IPL teams. The pranks, the way newcomers are made comfortable is a mark of great teams.

4. When CSK plays and a batsman hits a four, they don’t have to show Shah Rukh Khan clapping, when a six is hit, they don’t have to show the Shetty sisters hugging or when a batsman gets out they don’t have to show Priety Zinta cussing and discussing strategy with the coach. It’s strictly the players and the fans and that’s how it should be. The lesser the distractions, the better the team.

5. After the recent incident involving Shah Rukh Khan at the Wankhede Stadium, Juhi Chawla was quoted as saying “If today Shah Rukh Khan were to get upset and quit the IPL I wonder if there’d be any people watching the matches… in Wankhede or any stadium.” Seriously, if Wankhede comes to watch Shah Rukh Khan rather than Sachin’s batting, then God save cricket.

6. Despite the dash of IPL, Chennai still and will remain the most knowledgeable of all crowds in India. That’s a mark of fans who will remain loyal to CSK all life. If you think about it you will understand what I am saying. Remember, Sachin was booed once in Mumbai. That will never happen to any cricketer in Chennai (Except Virat Kohli when he plays for RCB)

7. As a team, CSK is not dependent on one player like how RCB have in Gayle and Kolkatta in Gambir. Every time we find some player finishing it in tight situations. Morkel, Bravo, Dhoni, it’s a finishing line up to dream.

8. One of the most important factors is how well the local lads and generally the Indian players have played for us. Vijay, Badri, Anirudha, Ashwin and Balaji have all won games for us. Name one team that has so many local lads in their team and doing well. Add to that Raina and Dhoni. So the over dependence on overseas players is negated in CSK.

9. Harsha Bhogle tweeted this after the last season win he said “Eventually the best team, the best organized, the best selected and the best led won the IPL and that is how it should be”. Need anything more to say.

10. Actually, there is one more thing to say… “We are the Bloody Champs”! Distracters talk about N Srinivasan’s role in the team and his influence as the BCCI’s big fish. Let me clarify. His India Cements Company is involved with cricket for 60 years now. They are responsible for bringing up players like Rahul Dravid. So here’s the thing… N Srinivasan is the president of the most powerful cricket board in the world. Would you credit every Indian Win as his script?

The truth is CSK, even for IPL’s short history has to go through these phases like how great teams go through. Barcelona is constantly accused of diving despite the beautiful football they play. The Australian Cricket Team was accused of too much sledging when they dominated world cricket. But didn’t they change the way cricket was played? Like those great teams, we will endure and play the way like only we can and whistle the way like only we can. Go CSK Go..!