IPL 2020: Counting on cricket in Covid times5 min readReading Time: 3 minutes
Does that sound like adrenaline and nostalgia? It’s IPL season and it’s raining fours and sixes! Arguably the most popular cricketing extravaganza in the world, the Indian Premier League is usually watched by thousands in the stadium and by millions more on television. But what about this year? People feared that such a competition being played in empty stadiums in the faraway deserts of the United Arab Emirates would be a dampener. But apparently, the IPL is immune to Covid-19 in spirit!
The tournament has been dishing out its usual quota of exciting contests, including a double Super Over finish in the match between Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab, a first in the tournament’s history. That seven of eight teams still have a realistic shot at making the playoffs (reserved for the top-four teams) has shown how high the stakes are this year! Let’s recap…
The D(e)ad Army?
The team that was touted to win the cup and it’s most popular one, the Chennai Super Kings, had a pretty bad run this time. Led by the charismatic former Indian skipper M.S. Dhoni, the three-time winner and five-time runner-up lies last this year.
Some have even nicknamed Super Kings, the ‘Dad Army’ because it has eight players aged above 35, the most in a single team. Maybe the ‘Dads’ are struggling to keep up with the youngsters in the fast-paced world of T20 cricket!
Mumbai Indians, four-time champions including last year, seem to have no such trouble, continuing to lead the way by topping the table even after 10 matches. It is closely followed by Delhi Capitals, helmed by the dynamic 25-year-old Shreyas Iyer, and Royal Challengers Bangalore, captained by the fiery Virat Kohli.
Bangalore, which has scraped the bottom twice in the last three years, has been the surprise package. Most people were ready to give up on this team but it has shed much baggage from the days when it was chided as the original ‘Dad’s Army’. Things finally seem to be clicking.
Kolkata Knight Riders’s identity, apart from being a two-time champion, is closely tied to its owner, star actor Shah Rukh Khan. Much like Khan’s recent movies, the team too has seen only middling success. Uh-oh!
It threatens to do well but doesn’t always make good on the promise and this season has been no different.
Slow and steady
Kings XI Punjab, a finalist once in 2014, is trying to reinvent itself for the umpteenth time. Coached by former India captain and leg-spinning legend Anil Kumble, green shoots finally are visible. After losing six of its opening seven matches, it has won four on the trot and appears hungry for more. Well, that’s encouraging!
The top down approach!
Sunrisers Hyderabad has flattered to deceive, losing matches from winning positions. It is closer to the bottom than it is to the top and is likely to remain so if it doesn’t get its act together.
Now you’re all caught up with what’s happening at the IPL this year. We’ll see you again with an update at the end of the series!
Author: N. Sudarshan
Sudarshan is a Principal Correspondent at The Hindu and writes on sports.