Cricket / kings xi
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly - IPL Round-Up 1
I thought that rather than trying to write a review of every single match in the IPL which would be both difficult for me to keep up with and tedious even for the most ardent cricket lover, I would pick a few talking points from the week's games and things that I have seen and experienced to highlight. As the name suggests some of them will be positives while others will be on the negative side. The Good He's back! After having hinted at retirement yet again, the Universe Boss rolled back the years in the recent ODI series between England and the West Indies to show the world that he is still one of the cleanest strikers of a cricket ball around despite being nearly 40 years of age. In that series against England, his efforts with the bat were overshadowed to some extent by his lack of enthusiasm in the field and in running between the wickets. For those of you who haven't followed Gayle's career closely, these aren't problems that have necessarily developed with age as he hasn't ever been the type of player to sprint after the ball or scamper a single even when he first came into the WI side all those years ago. However, it was still disappointing to see that Gayle didn't even take the time to warm-up with his West Indian compatriots in their recent 5 game series and you could be fairly sure that if his side was in the field for the 2nd innings then he would be back in the dressing room with his feet up enjoying the aircon - it's not really the message that WI captain Jason Holder would want to send to the group of largely young cricketers that he has to work with! Fast forward to the IPL and we've suddenly seen Gayle transformed! Not only is he the 4th highest run scorer to date with 99 runs at S/R of 165, but he has also been sprinting between the wickets and diving all over the field. It was brilliant to see in Kings XI's opening match against Rajasthan Royals that Gayle took on plenty of quick singles and that in particular while batting with the diminutive Sarfraz Khan whose game is built on finding the gaps and turning 1s into 2s that he responded to his partners quick running between the wickets - I don't I've seen the big man move so fast in many years except perhaps when the possibility to do an interview with an attractive female TV commentator presents itself! Last night he was then throwing himself all over the park (see above) as his side sort to withstand one of, if not the most powerful batting line-ups in the competition. Now imagine if he can continue this kind of form and commitment to the cause throughout the IPL and into the World Cup! The West Indies have some fantastically gifted players and to date 2019 has already been a good year for them in both Test and ODI formats. A motivated Gayle might be just what they need to cause a few upsets in England this summer! The Bad Given my comments earlier in the week about the Mankading incident involving Jos Buttler and Ravi Ashwin, it would be tempting to include my opinions about it under either the bad or ugly categories of this blog but I think enough has been said about that particular argument for now. However, Ashwin and his KXIP team just can’t stay out of the limelight at the moment and once again it was for all for the wrong reasons in last night's match against KKR. Having built steadily towards a competitive score, KKR lost the wicket of current orange cap wearer Rana with just over 5 overs to go. In strode KKR's finisher extraordinaire Dre Russell looking to do to the Punjab Team what he had done to SRH a couple of days earlier. Indian Test bowler and one of my favourite seamers in World cricket at the moment, Mohammed Shami came onto bowl and he delivered a masterclass of yorker bowling, limiting Russell to just 3 runs from his first 4 balls. The 5th delivery that Russell faced is shown in the gif below – great bowling again from Shami who rightly celebrated what looked like it would be a massive wicket for Kings XI . In fact, it was a pivotal moment in the game but not in the way that Punjab had hoped as after consulting the 3rd umpire the on field officials signalled a no-ball due to only 3 fielders being in the inner circle. Ashwin’s reaction was rightfully one of disbelief that his side could have committed such a rookie error and matters were made worse when Russell took 21 of the next over from Tye and then 22 off a visibly disgruntled Shami. KXIP were always behind the rate in chasing the 218 that KKR set but it would be fair to say that the Russell wicket could well have limited the home side to a score of 190-200 and that looked to be within range of the chasing team. The bump that KKR got in the last 3 overs took the out of Kings XI's reach source Ashwin will have to take most of the flack for the mistake and the commentators at the time were suggesting that it was David Miller who had failed to come back into the circle following the change of strike but in all honesty with 11 professional cricketers out there you would have thought that 1 of them would have spotted the issue and stopped the bowler. At this level of sport it’s the minute details and planning that often make a big impact and you’d imagine that Kings XI will need to appointment a member of the team to count fielders in the inner circle from now on. I would thought that the keeper KL Rahul would be in the best position to do so, afterall the captain needs to be thinking about the bigger picture and in Ashwin’s case who he’s going to Mankad next and the bowler needs to focus on his variations. The Ugly My first real bugbear of the IPL began before the tournament even started with the very late decision by the host broadcaster Star Sports to pull out of the 4 year contract that it had with UK based Sky Sports who had been granted the rights to show the tournament in the UK. Instead I now have to pay a separate subscription fee of £11.99 a month to stream the cricket on my laptop. The money is an annoyance but it was the fact that they made this decision 48 hours before the tournament started that really grates with me. Equally, you have to wonder why the host broadcaster would do this? Sky has just shy of 10million subscribers in the UK and while I have no idea how many others will have decided to pay for the subscription to Hotstar UK (the provider that is carrying Star Sports) I would be surprised if it totalled more than a couple thousand. Surely Sky’s deal would have been worth more than the total income gleaned from those subscriptions? It also reeks of short-term profit making over the longer term health of the sport, something that India as well as other powerful cricketing nations including England have been accused of before. Getting live games into as many households as possible should be the priority for all boards around the world and the IPL’s exclusion from regular UK subscription channels (not to mention freeview channels) is just another example of poor decision making by the administrators.
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