Teams will try and give that bit extra so that they can finish in the last four where not only is there some terrific prize money, but also the chance to play in the Champions League later in the year.
By Sunil Gavaskar
It was great to see Yuvraj Singh at the Subroto Roy Sahara stadium in Pune when the Pune Warriors took on the Deccan Chargers. He looked good and what was immediately noticeable was that the sense of humour is intact, and he was cracking jokes and having fun. He also had a bit of a hit with balls being thrown at him and seemed to thoroughly enjoy himself with the bat in his hand. It is this spirit that is going to get him back in action sooner than later. He even gave a pep talk to the team as they got together in a huddle before they took the field. Remember that Yuvraj is the official skipper of the team, and it is in his absence that Ganguly has been appointed as captain of the team. Ganguly has done as would be expected of him, leading with verve and that special combativeness that separates him from other captains. Pune unfortunately couldn’t raise the level of their game to give Yuvraj a win to savor his return to his home ground. It was a combination of bad bowling and ordinary fielding that let down the Pune team and then the batting had just too much to do, and so they lost a second successive game at their home ground.
Out in the West Indies, the Australians are once again showing that nobody can write them off. Like in the second Test it was the lower order that saved them the blushes, when Matthew Wade got his first century and along with the last three batsmen added more than 150 runs that took the game away from the home team. It is this that makes a huge difference, because there is no such thing as an easy Australian wicket. Even their number 11 batsman will hang in there in his own style and never throw his wicket away. Though Wade got a ton, the assertion that Brad Haddin is still the number one wicket keeper for the Australians is a bit hard to understand. Haddin has not been in the best of form behind as well as in front of the stumps, and it was this reason that he was left out of the limited overs team and Wade brought in. Wade has done nothing wrong and is entitled to feel after the century that he deserves a look-in ahead of Haddin, but we will have to wait for a while to see if that is going to happen.
The IPL has had its moment of controversy with Marlon Samuels being reported for a suspect action. He has got great support from his skipper, Sourav Ganguly, that there is nothing wrong with his action and that there are other bowlers, who have also got dodgy actions but have not been reported. He has a point, for there certainly are some others who do have a bit of a kink in their actions. Umpires today do not call bowlers with suspect actions, but report them to the match referee and from there the bowler has to undergo a rehabilitation program before he is allowed to bowl again. In Samuels case he has bowled after being reported so maybe the procedure has changed a bit. The T20 format is such a close tight format that a game can change in a matter of an over or two. That is why it is imperative that if an on field umpire is not happy about the action of a bowler, but is still reluctant to call him, then he should ask the skipper of the team not to bowl him again. In fact this should be done in all formats of the game for it is no use reporting a bowler after he has wreaked havoc on the opposition and won them the match and maybe the series as well.
The IPL has seen some easy catches being dropped and the fielding also has been scrappy for some teams, especially, those at the bottom of the table currently. Catches will be dropped, but bad ground fielding can be avoided, for it can make the difference between winning and losing. That is why a fielding coach is essential to be able to put the players through their paces. Every run saved is a run scored is an old saying in cricket but is more true in this ultra short format of the game where teams are often separated by just the odd run.
The weather too has been hot mostly and the afternoon games are hard on the players, but the fitness levels are better today so there has been nothing untoward. The rains have spoilt a couple of matches and some teams will feel that they were hard done in by the weather as they were expecting full points against weaker teams.
It is now the second half of the tournament and it will be more intense as teams try and give that bit extra so that they can finish in the last four where not only is there some terrific prize money, but also the chance to play in the Champions League later in the year.