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Aiyo, what an IPL season!

Updated on: 30 May,2024 06:52 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Clayton Murzello |

An insipid final, controversies galore and an edition which firmly established the imbalance between bat and ball in T20 cricket is how we will remember the 2024 franchise-based tournament

Aiyo, what an IPL season!

Mumbai Indians captain Hardik Pandya and teammate Rohit Sharma (left) during an IPL-17 game against Gujarat Titans at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on March 24. Pic/AFP

Clayton MurzelloIndian Premier League-17 would probably make for a perfect example of an edition which evoked bewilderment among those who followed it closely. Let’s start at the very end. The final. Sunrisers Hyderabad’s meek surrender to Kolkata Knight Riders made it an anti-climax of all anti-climaxes in India’s recent domestic cricket history. Indeed, it gave a poor name to the thrill factor in the shortest form of the game.

It was a complete waste of time for those who made it to the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, as well as those who had planned to be in front of their television sets throughout Sunday evening.

Sunrisers were expected to do what they have done best this season—come up with a sizzling batting performance and put the opposition under pressure. Instead, they were outwitted by the KKR bowlers who, in a way, mandated a third IPL title triumph.

One’s heart had to go out to the Chennai fans. A little over a week earlier, the Super Kings exited the tournament through a heartbreaking loss to Royal Challengers Bengaluru in Bangalore. Their icon Mahendra Singh Dhoni couldn’t weave his magic and their dream of Dhoni playing the final in Chennai was shattered. By the way, the MSD puzzle continues, be it in terms of his retirement or batting number.

In the final, great balls sent back dangermen Abhishek Sharma and Travis Head, but Sunrisers were just clueless over how to revive. That skipper Pat Cummins was their top-scorer (24), coming in at No. 9, reflected a highly inefficient batting display.

The poor season Mumbai Indians endured was another downside to the annual T20 extravaganza. The decision to make Hardik Pandya captain, however good the intentions may have been with the future in mind, proved counterproductive. It was a PR disaster and the chief decision-makers in this move would have been embarrassed. Yes, Pandya didn’t deserve to be booed like he was at the Wankhede Stadium and one could say that the trolling of Pandya on social media led to some poor behaviour from the stands. Sanjay Manjrekar’s call for the fans to ‘behave’ will be remembered too.

Pandya, naturally, appeared weighed down by the pressure; his effort to be cheerful in post-match interactions with the commentators notwithstanding. He just couldn’t inspire his team to a revival of fortunes and it’s no surprise that he ended up with a highest score of 46. He claimed 11 wickets in 14 games.

Rohit Sharma too didn’t have the best of seasons. Sure, he got a hundred against Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede Stadium on April 14, but half the time in his 14-match IPL-17, he walked back to the pavilion with a less-than-20 score to his name. And his sequence of scores from April 22 to May 6 was 6, 8, 4, 11 and 4.

Pandya is a cause of concern when it comes to the forthcoming T20 World Cup and I suppose his will be more of mental battle to get back to form. If he doesn’t come good with the bat, India will not have a destroyer of bowling attacks. And that’s when the regret over not taking Rinku Singh will kick in.

Meanwhile, whatever the contents of that much publicised footage of Sanjiv Goenka’s animated discussion with captain KL Rahul, the Lucknow Super Giants owner could well regret discussing the game his side lost even before the half-way mark of the innings.

Although the Goenka-Rahul one-way conversation (Rahul didn’t appear to be reacting verbally) didn’t involve the full team (which may have been a better way to handle it), I was reminded of an incident which took place during Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket. The West Indies had played below potential and ability in a game. Packer walked into their changing room and gave the men from the Caribbean, in fast bowler Andy Roberts’s words, a “tongue lashing.” Roberts’s fellow fast bowler Colin Croft said in the film Fire in Babylon that Packer threatened to send some of them back home if they played poorly again. The West Indies hardly lost a game after that.

Goenka is not the first big boss to be incensed by a shoddy show. Which team owner smiles from ear to ear after a loss? However, there’s a place to do it — certainly not at areas exposed to cameras.

Sunil Gavaskar, meanwhile, surprised many by slamming the very channel that he was doing commentary for, after they showed Virat Kohli’s rant over those questioning his strike rate over and over again. Gavaskar also questioned why players were reacting to views when they often stress that they don’t listen to outside noise.

Talking about noise, Rohit Sharma made some noise about his conversations with KKR assistant coach Abhishek Nayar before the Mumbai Indians v KKR game at the Eden Gardens being heard on social media. The India captain felt that his utterances with friends were revealed again despite a request to a cameraman but Star Sports denied that this was made public; only his request for the audio not to be recorded, was. The official broadcasters have paid big bucks to record more than just on-action so they are well within their right to pan their cameras on high profile players. At the same time, cricketers are entitled to demand that their conversations be off limits. This is not to say that Rohit’s conversation was recorded by the host broadcasters. It wasn’t.

On the field, IPL-17 will be remembered as the edition which produced far too many runs for the cricket to come close to being called an even contest. Cricket enthusiasts probably deserve better.

mid-day’s group sports editor Clayton Murzello is a purist with an open stance.
He tweets @ClaytonMurzello. Send your feedback to
The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.

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