The curtains on the Indian Premier League’s fifth edition have been drawn. The winner has been decided and the world has moved on. But the T20 tournament did leave us with some lessons that could prove useful in the long run.
Here are five:
Gautam Gambhir, the skipper of new IPL champions Kolkata Knight Riders, said after winning the title: “It is the team that wins you games, not individuals.” And this truism was proved right time and again in IPL V. Royal Challengers Bangalore were led by Virat Kohli for the most part this season. That’s because the team’s regular captain Daniel Vettori dropped himself due to lack of form and allowed the in-form Muttiah Muralitharan a place in the playing XI. Deccan Chargers’ skipper Kumar Sangakkara was also brave enough to ‘rest’ himself for their game against Mumbai Indians.
Then there were the captains who had to sit out ‘involuntarily”. Pune Warriors India captain Sourav Ganguly handed over the team’s reins to Steven Smith for a single match, while Kings XI Punjab captain Adam Gilchrist sat out nine games due to a hamstring injury.
IPL’s senior citizens performed admirably. While Kings XI Punjab saw youngsters like Mandeep Singh and Gurkeerat Singh shine, they also had the likes of 37-year-old Azhar Mahmood, 40-year-old Adam Gilchrist and 34-year-old David Hussey guiding the team both on and off-the-field.
Rajasthan Royals had the wily Brad Hogg , the oldest IPL player at 41. But under the stewardship of 39-year-old Rahul Dravid, Hogg proved very effective. Even 37-year-old Brad Hodge had enough juice for a few good knocks in the initial stages of the tournament.
Mumbai Indians’ talismanic opener Sachin Tendulkar may be getting on in age, but his exuberance was that of a teenager throughout the tournament. Though he may not have had the best IPL season by his own standards, but his 74 against the Chennai Super Kings showed he’s still got it. Herschelle Gibbs, Tendulkar’s opening partner, may have got limited opportunities, but he made good use of them.
Even the old warhorse Sourav Ganguly had some moments of brilliance, as captain and as a bowler, before his season took a nosedive.
And of course, veteran warriors Jacques Kallis and Brett Lee’s contributions were key to Kolkata Knight Riders’ journey to the top.
If one looks at the list of highest run-getters in IPL V, it will be apparent that six of the top seven are openers. And from an individual perspective, it’s best to open in the shortest version of the game. But, except for Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag, none of the other batsmen could carry their teams into the qualifiers. These openers may have set the foundation, but the lack of support from the rest of the team meant their efforts came to naught.
One of the reasons given for Pune Warriors’ failure this season was not making good use, actually any use, of Tamim Iqbal. Despite being in great nick, the Bangladesh opener was never a part of the playing XI and Pune paid the price by having a dismal season. The rotation policy adopted by Mumbai Indians at the top of their order meant none of their overseas openers had a chance to settle into the job. Delhi Daredevils’ decision to send Ross Taylor down the order at no. 7 against Kolkata Knight Riders in the first qualifier and the benching of Morne Morkel against Chennai Super Kings in the 2nd qualifier both backfired on the team.
Mumbai Indians proved that the adage “the umpire’s word is the last word” is outdated and bullying works. Mumbai Indians’ Munaf Patel and Harbhajan Singh got into a heat argument with the umpire in game 5. The incident occurred after the on-field umpire ruled that Deccan Chargers’ skipper Kumar Sangakkara was not out despite his bails having been dislodged. While the umpire in this instance was ‘wrong’, the tactics used by both Mumbai Indian players to eventually get the ‘right’ one has set a precedent and one that may be repeated in the future.