Unless one has been living under a rock or has been on a long hiking trip to Scandinavia, the glitz and glamour and noise of the Indian Premier League is unlikely to have escaped anyone.
Like a Bhai movie releasing every Eid, the IPL has taken upon itself to entertain and amaze the cricket fans of this country and the world every summer (to the detriment of every major and minor film release in the summer).
How is the 2018 edition of the IPL going then?
Does it match the skill and entertainment levels of previous seasons past?
Or is if much of the same, the same-old-same-old?
Here are a few key observations taken from this year’s IPL, half-way through the 2018 edition:
The Sunrisers Shine Brighter Than Anyone
Sunrisers Hyderabad are a team that often flies under the radar. Devoid of superstar names such as Kohli, Dhoni and De Villiers among others, the Sunrisers have still managed to play well, better than any other team this season.
Led by the charismatic Kiwi Kane Williamson, Hyderabad have batted well and posted competitive totals for their impressive bowling unit to defend.
Yes, an impressive bowling unit. In a 20-over tournament.
Never heard that before, right?
Led by Bhuvaneshawar Kumar, a man whose clever change of pace and variations has proved useful on India’s flat tracks, the Sunrisers have risen to the occasion and have consistently supplemented and even, overdone their batting unit.
And, Kumar isn’t the only one. In Afghani leg break bowler Rashid Khan (whose auction valuation of Rs 9 crore seems like a bargain now) and homegrown Siddharth Kaul, the team has a squad of unheralded players that are outperforming most.
And to think, this is the same team that had to deal with the mercurial David Warner quitting captaincy and choosing not to play this season.
Chennai’s Super Kings Still Got It
The two-year suspension faced by CSK and Rajasthan Royals for their part in the IPL betting scandal was the most ignominious of CSK’s long and storied history.
As the most consistently great team in the Indian Premier League, it was a shame when the men in yellow were suspended.
And, one would have thought that after its players spending the last two seasons with other teams in the wilderness, CSK would not best its usual performances.
Alas, that is not so. It’s like the men from Chennai had never left the Indian Premier League
On the back of a consistently performing batting unit and coupled with their long, rich experience of winning matches even when they aren’t playing well, Chennai will be a team no other team in the IPL would like to face in the knockout stages.
Bangalore and Delhi continue to flatter to deceive
I don’t get RCB. With stars such as Virat Kohli, AB De Villiers and Brendon McCullum in their ranks, they have the kind of batting unit that can put the world’s best teams to shame.
And yet, they never seem to turn up or do so consistently.
Apart from that season when Virat Kohli went into God mode or the other when Gayle-storm first hit Indian shores, RCB has always punched below its weight.
Over-reliance on Kohli has been an issue. So has the inconsistency of the rest of the unit, both batting and bowling.
Also, and maybe this is too early to say but, should RCB have let Gayle go?
Maybe, just maybe not.
On the other hand, Delhi is a team with no fighting strength or depth. The less said, the better because, since their semi-final appearances in the early days of the IPL, Delhi has disappointed.
Here are some other minor takeaways from this season’s Indian Premier League,
1. This season has seen a lot of homegrown players burst on to the scene. Whether it is Suryakumar Yadav (Mumbai) and Rishab Pant (Delhi) with the bat or Hardik Pandya (Mumbai) and Siddharth Kaul (Hyderabad) with the ball, the performances of Indian players this year has been great.
2. Speaking of Indian players, the performances of KL Rahul and Ambati Rayadu only stand to tell the people and selectors what the Indian team may be missing in their international squads.
3. Maybe it’s time to let some other team take Delhi’s place in the league?
4. Sure in the current climate, Pune is a safer venue but, it is nowhere close to the Chidambaram stadium in Chennai.
Here’s looking forward to a great second half of the 2018 edition of the Indian Premier League.
Image Credits: Google Images