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Flop Shows! - Chetan Narula Column
by Chetan Narula
May 02, 2009
The Indian Premier League season two is being hailed as a screaming hit to any one who will listen and while the jury is still out on that one claim, there is reason to see who all have given cause to be termed failures in every sense of the word.

John Buchanan - This had to be the first name on the list. When one heard of the four-captain theory, it seemed to be a pretty innovative concept, and there would have been no harm really in even trying to implement it, if that's what gets you the prize. But the whole story fizzled out as soon as the team landed in South Africa and it really turned out to be just a ploy to kick Sourav Ganguly out of his captaincy. Why oh why can't these Australian coaches be straight faced about it and not play games? For the resultant ridicule from all quarters and sulking of the Prince of Kolkata has divided the team, given birth to a highly creative blogger and not won them any matches. Surely now SRK can see why this mega-budget dream of his flopped!

Brendon McCullum - Reports are that he has already offered to resign but turned down in a bid to keep things stable in the current season. The only reason he became captain is because John Buchanan can easily work his way through him, which wouldn't have been possible even with Chris Gayle or Laxmi Ratan Shukla, with Ganguly behind the latter. The Kiwi keeper doesn't really have a good track record as leader on the cricket field, so much so that one can't remember any one good move that he may have made during the last six games. The captaincy has only added pressure to his batting and the big hitting opener has gone missing in all the fuss.

Andrew Flintoff - No use mentioning the words economic meltdown and recession here, for spending USD 1.55 million defies all that. What is going to be pointed out however is an instance from Flintoff's debut match in the IPL! Playing against Mumbai, he induced an edge off Sachin Tendulkar only to be dropped by Mathew Hayden at first slip. All Freddie could do was smile. Now, hold on, for when was the last time you saw the burly all rounder smile when a catch had been dropped off him? One can't possibly recall any such instance and that was the reason why this particular player is held in the highest regard across the cricket world. A fully charged up Flintoff is what Chennai had paid for. By smiling at that one moment, he has given birth to questions about his commitment at that high a price.

Jesse Ryder - What a great leveler the game of cricket is! A month ago this man could do no wrong. Got some runs in the T20s, cored a ton in the last ODI and then got more runs in the Tests than he could have even backed himself to get. Every one went gaga as to how Mallya had got the ultimate player-in-form for his team and that he would surely be a hit come the IPL. And fifteen days into the tournament, Jesse Ryder is struggling to put bat to ball, having crossed double figures just once in four matches. He has been somewhat good with the ball, though that was not what the liquor baron has paid for!

Robin Uthappa - Another one on whom many Bangalore hopes were pinned! He led Karnataka in the Ranji Trophy this season and brings much needed excitement into the line-up being the local lad who can play some really good attacking shots at anywhere in the order. He might have been in the running for captaincy as well once Peitersen left, but his poor form has taken every one aback. He wasn't this poor even when he was with Mumbai Indians last year. But hope is not lost as coming down the order, as Dhoni prefers him to in the Indian set up, might bring about a change in his fortunes.

Kevin Pietersen - Continuing with Bangalore only, the skipper for six games hasn't really had it too bad, except that the team only won once. To his credit, they did look like a T20 side this year, but its more than just appearance here. He has made some innovative decisions, just not get the desired result this season. Probably could have done more with the bat given the price tag but he has to be judged in view of the complete role he played for the team. It would be fair to term him half a failure.

MS Dhoni - What is up with the Indian captain is unfathomable at the moment. Sure, he's changed his batting style over the past fifteen months or so, but it was really expected of him that the big hitting player that he previously was would again come to the fore in this version of the game. But he continues in the same accumulative vein which although good for his long term average, is not really too good for his dasher tag. Also he looks to be a bit tired with the entire non-stop cricket and one can only wish that an injury isn't on the way. What a blow that would be for India!

S Sreesanth - Quite a low this man has plunged to, trying to get all the attention he can garner. Yes, he is injured but hasn't any other cricketer ever been injured? If they all started clamming up for that every possible minute of television exposure, then the already harrowed broadcasters would have a real dressing down from the audience. The only saving grace is that he hasn't tried to dance in the pre-match shows. Some one needs to tell him that the selectors are only impressed with what you do on the field and it is highly anticipated what he can for his team after all the crap he's been pulling off it.

Cheerleaders - Somewhere in between the shift from India to South Africa, the pretty girls on the boundary have lost out. While the Knight Riders' own troupe Angels had to return without even strutting their stuff, the ones who have been doing so all this while have failed to hog the limelight so far this year. Even they would be missing all the jeering and the bottles pelted on them last year by the Indian crowds!

Time Outs - The second season of the IPL will be remembered for this innovation more than anything else. Even a blind man sitting in front of the television can tell everyone that this is only to get the broadcasters to fill their pockets, especially since the Indian masses are only watching on television. One doubts that this break would have been introduced had the tournament been played in India. The players don't like it, for there is a wicket invariably in the 11th or 12th over, but Lalit Modi will only review it after the matches are all over. Strange are the ways of this man!

(The columnist is a sports writer and Mobile ESPN cricket commentator based in New Delhi, India.)
 
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