By Yajurvindra Singh
The last ball finish to the final between the two consistent top sides in the history of the Indian Premier League (IPL) was just what the doctor ordered. The match had the ingredients of an epic boxing match, in which both teams had the opportunity to lay the knock-out punch and Mumbai Indians finally put the nail in the coffin.
One did feel sorry for Chennai Super Kings but a few elementary mistakes at the end deprived them of what looked like a certain win.
The match was a nail-biter and when Mumbai Indians' Lasith Malinga ran in to bowl the last ball to CSK's Shardul Thakur, all the three results - a tie, a win and a defeat for either of the teams were possible. The winner naturally was not only the IPL as a glamorous tournament, but cricket also as a sport.
One is worried that the success which the T20 format is generating could be a detrimental factor for the conventional game of Test cricket. Interacting with youngsters, the only thought that seems to be in their minds is to learn to play T20 cricket. Their goal, more than playing for the country, is to play in the IPL. When one looks at it in a logical perspective, the adulation and superstar status associated with T20 leagues, with photographs at all hoardings around the city, does inspire a young cricketer to be a part of the IPL brigade.
In the present social digital world, being followed by millions on the internet is a dream objective for most of them. Cricket, especially in the fast exciting world of T20, is one way to achieve such success. The old popular Indian game 'Gilly Dunda', which was played with a small piece of wood, "Gilly", which needed to be hit with a stick, 'Danda', first when it was lying on the ground to get it to rise and then whacking it in any direction, is very much what the present T20 cricket is about. The helicopter shot made popular by MS Dhoni and now played exceptionally well by Hardik Pandya is a good example of it. There is no set technique to one's batting, it is an on-the-spot adjustment and implementation that makes the art of batsmanship even more interesting. Andre Russell had most people astonished when he consistently hit some breathtaking unorthodox shots to all parts of the ground.
Cricket during its inception in the late 1800's must have had the same effect on the spectators, when the famous W.G. Grace played the 'late-cut' or our own Ranjit Singhji when he invented the 'glance'. Hardcore followers of the game at the time were of the opinion that Ranji will never be able to sustain such a risky stroke. Well, he did so successfully for years and now it has become a shot all batsmen play with ease.
Cricket will need to keep changing and adapting. A few days ago, I was a part of an interesting discussion with a Test cricketer from New Zealand and Australia. The thoughts were that cricket will become a game for specialists. The interchanging of a batsman or a bowler in the midst of an innings or in an over are some of the thoughts that evoked whole-hearted support. Presently, one has to wait for a batsman to get out, whereas, calling a batsman back mid-innings, if he is playing badly or slowly and sending one to bring about a change will make the game more interesting. Similarly as regards the bowler, whose skill one could best utilize per ball depending on the batsman taking strike. These changes naturally are not for Test cricket, but more for the limited overs version to make it even more engrossing and interesting.
These ideas may be revolutionary at present but could be in vogue in the near future. Sachin Tendulkar's idea of 15 players a side in school cricket has been received well. The best 11 batsmen and bowlers get an opportunity to play. This is another great idea to extend to the T20 cricket. Rather than watching tailenders batting, one could have genuine batsmen who at present are unfortunate to be sitting on the bench. Similarly, rather than limiting bowlers, a team could have all their specialists in the side. The 11-a-side will restrict all batsmen and bowlers to be included but all the specialists will get an opportunity to play.
IPL 2019 was a huge success in every possible way. The effort and programs by the television providers, the experts and commentators , especially in the 'Dug Out' , the 6 crore Dream 11 competition participants, houseful stadiums all made it into a sporting bonanza.
The huge amount of money spent in having Bollywood dancers at the opening and closing functions was least missed by the spectators and viewers.
The parading of the winners, Mumbai Indians, on an open truck on the busy streets and roads of Mumbai was a far better way to cherish the victory for the players who gave their heart and soul during the six weeks of the tournament. Well done BCCI and the deserving winners, Team MI.
(Yajurvindra Singh is a former Test cricketer)