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May 04, 2009
This edition of the Indian Premier League, like the previous one, has been one big surprise. The points table, for one, has managed to somersault, yet, only three points separate the first and the seventh-placed team, at the half way stage. Then there has been the case of some of the players having lost form like nobody's business, while some others have exceeded the expectations of most. This piece is about some of the hits of the IPL at the half way mark.

A.B. de Villiers' century: The possibility of quite a few terming you a Martian would have been quite high had you predicted that at the end of two weeks, there would be only one centurion in the series, and that would be de Villiers. Yet, apart from a 98 by Suresh Raina, not too many cricketers have got close to the South African’s ton against the Chennai Super Kings. De Villiers was only carrying the purple patch of form that he had painted himself with during the series against Australia.

Suresh Raina's 98: Apart from the aforementioned, Raina was the only batsman who got so close to a century, and for a moment or tow, had also said to have thought that he had already got there. But a delivery later, when he got back to the dug-out, he was reliably informed by the management that his bat-waving and acknowledging the crowd had been an exercise in futility as the scorers had got it wrong by a couple of runs. Wonder whether this should be put under the hits or the misses?

Fifer for fifer!: Who would have even thought an Anil Kumble do a Hero Cuo final and grab a five-wicket haul? And who would have ever thought that it would come after conceding only five runs! But in an effort so reminiscent of his nick-names, he scythed through the Rajasthan Royals' bottom order while grabbing a 5/5, and then spoke merrily about the roles some of the seniors can still play in a 'young man's format'.

Abdullah's comeback…: Had it not been for Jerome Taylor's injury, Yusuf Abdullah would have never been a part of the Kings XI Punjab. Had it not been for the absence of Brett Lee, S. Sreesanth and probably, even Shaun Marsh, Abdullah would have probably not been afforded multiple chances after been thrashed in the first couple of games. A third chance got, Abdullah scalped four against the Royal Challengers and led the team to victory. The confidence back, he hasn't looked back since then and is the proud holder of the purple cap! Some turnaround there.

…and coming back of Andrew Flintoff: With the kind of performance dished out by Flintoff, it was evident that there had been repercussions of his previous injury that he had taken into the tournament, to earn a few extra bucks. That he had to leave after playing only three matches - and not the entire list of six or seven - would have worked in Chennai's favour. Had he been around, there is a reasonable possibility that he would have been a part of all those games and wouldn't that have been a waste of one spot.

Matt the Bat: A visibly relaxed Matthew Hayden - retirement having played a reasonable part - has ensured so far that none of the opposing bowlers have relaxed for a moment. His tooth-pick seeming bat has been wielded like a club, and bludgeoned most of the bowlers and accentuated the 'runs' column of their analysis.

Yuvi the batsman, bowler and captain: A highly under-rated bowler, Yuvraj grabbed a hat-trick against the Royal Challengers. Then, he went on to smash a fifty as an opener. This ensured that the Man-of-the-Match award belonged to him despite having lost that encounter
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