If anyone thought that <a href="http://cricket.zeenews.com/ipl09">IPL 2009</a> would be an extension of its inaugural season, he could not have been further off the mark!
The only thing common between the season one and two (so far) has been its unpredictability.
The positive thing, from a cricketing point a view, has been democratisation of its three facets- batting, bowling and fielding, in what was so far, a bat dominated Twenty20 format.
Forget 200, even scores of 150 are being defended, and quite comprehensively at times. Batsmen need to be able to BAT. The mindless slam-bang approach, at its zenith last year, no longer works. Old age theory of ‘getting your eye-in’ holds paramount.
Bowlers, for once, are making merry. Spinners have never been a happier lot and Twenty20 cricket is finally offering an even contest between the blade and the cherry.
Bowlers running in, no longer fear about even good balls being brutally deposited in the stands. There have already been 9 instances when the batting team has lost a wicket off the very first ball and we are into just half-way in the contest.
While quicks were all along known to create an occasional splutter in Twenty20, the success of tweakers has been the most heartening phenomenon.
Who would have thought that Anil Kumble would emerge as the bowling trump card for Royal Challengers, 5 months after quitting competitive cricket? Even Shane Warne’s fairytale season in 2008 had not prepared cricket lovers for a 5/5 kind of figures from our very own ‘Jumbo’.
In fact, spinners have almost taken over the mantle of new-ball bowlers from quickies. Part-timer at the best, Kevin Pietersen has opened the bowling for Bangalore and what’s more, picked a wicket off the first ball while Yuvraj Singh, with his seemingly harmless left-armers, is already in the history books for taking the third ever hat-trick in IPL!
While the first season, played on India’s batting friendly pitches helped cricket win over new genre of aficionados, the Twenty20 cricket on display in South Africa has brought purists to its realms up to an extent.
After Sachin Tendulkar set the tone with a stroke-filled, albeit measured 59 run-knock, opening fortnight has been dominated by batsmen prepared to play the waiting game.
Kumara Sangakkara, Matthew Hayden, Suresh Raina, Brad Hodge, all of whom are topping the scoring charts, are doing it on the strength of the sound batting techniques rather than anything else.
Shifting of <a href="http://cricket.zeenews.com/ipl09">IPL cricket</a> to the sporting pitches of South Africa has indeed proved to a blessing in disguise for the game, qualitatively speaking.
Over the years, the International Cricket Council had reservations, and quite rightly, on the adverse impact Twenty20 cricket may have in ‘diluting’ the quality of Tests and even one-dayers to some extent.
Well, Lalit Modi, though unintentionally, may have provided the ICC with the solution.
What <a href="http://cricket.zeenews.com/ipl09">IPL season 2</a> successfully underlies is the inherent importance of level playing fields if one yearns for any semblance of a competition.
But the question again is… Is ICC looking?
The ICC Twenty20 World Cup starts in a month’s time. We will know the answer.