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IPL 2012 – that took off in a whirl of dance, music and pyrotechnics with celebrity performers like Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Kareena Kapoor and Katy Perry – has taken its first cricketing strides. And what big strides they’ve been. Week 1 has featured masterful innings, breathtaking bowling spells, sensational catches and last-ball finishes. It’s time to relive all the drama with iplt20.com’s top five moments, listed in no particular order.
Levi's IPL debut
Mumbai Indians v Chennai Super Kings – April 4, 2012
Mumbai Indians' latest signing Richard Levi had only recently bulldozed his way into the record books by scoring the fastest hundred in Twenty20 Internationals. So when the South African took the field for IPL 2012, expectations were sky high.
There was pressure from other quarters too. It was the opening match of the competition, his team were up against defending champions Chennai Super Kings and he was opening the batting alongside Sachin Tendulkar. The 24-year-old held his own admirably, scoring valuable runs without too much of a fuss.
After four dot balls and a single in the opening over, Levi opened up when he crashed Doug Bolligner for two boundaries. That was only the start; by the time he was finished, he had scored 50 runs from 35 balls. He got to his half-century in style too – by hitting Dwayne Bravo for a six over long on. Levi had arrived in style! Morkel’s early strikes
Delhi Daredevils v Kolkata Knight Riders – April 5, 2012
Kolkata Knight Riders were rightly considered one of the strongest teams in IPL 2012 in the lead up to the tournament. After all, their batting line-up boasted the likes of Brendon McCullum, Jacques Kallis, Gautam Gambhir, Manoj Tiwary and Yusuf Pathan.
Morne Morkel paid no heed to the reputation of SRK’s leading men. The South African paceman demolished KKR’s top-order with two spectacular deliveries. In his very first over, Morkel delivered two perfect yorkers – from about seven-feet high – to which Kallis and Tiwary had no answers. Pitched right at the base of the wicket, he sent the stumps cartwheeling in two perfect cricketing moments.
But he was not done yet; in his second spell, he picked up the wicket of Gambhir leaving KKR licking their wounds, bowled out of the contest. Rahane's graceful 98
Rajasthan Royals v Kings XI Punjab – April 6, 2012
Twenty20 cricket is all about going hard at the ball and playing all the shots in the book. Ajinkya Rahane's knock against Kings XI Punjab proved that theory incorrect. The 23-year-old top-order batsman played the technically perfect innings – almost straight out of the MCC coaching manual – until he was dismissed attempting to go over the top. There was no slogging, no heaves across the line; yet the runs kept coming.
The majority of his 98 runs came through drives down the ground, most of them through pure timing. A knock to make the purists happy. Jadeja's all-round show
Chennai Super Kings v Deccan Chargers – April 7, 2012
The cricketing world’s curiosity was roused when Chennai Super Kings and Deccan Chargers were locked in a fierce bid for the Saurashtra all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja at the IPL Player Auction 2012. The USD 2 million limit was reached and CSK finally won the all-rounder’s services by means of the silent tie-breaker.
Given the kind of money splurged on him, Jadeja, or ‘Jaddu’, as the tattoo on his arm proclaims, paid his generous franchise back in the best way possible. Jadeja single-handedly won the away fixture against the Deccan Chargers, first blazing his way to a 29-ball 48 and then running through the DC line-up with five wickets. That performance – which made him the first player in IPL history to score more than 40 runs and take five wickets in the same match – has raised the bar for all all-rounders in the competition. Rohit's match-winning 73*
Deccan Chargers v Mumbai Indians – April 9, 2012
At the halfway stage in their match against Deccan Chargers, Mumbai Indians were reasonably happy to have restricted their opponents to 138 for nine. However, with a fired-up Dale Steyn charging in, their job was only half done and it needed someone to play a disciplined knock to see them home.
Rohit Sharma produced just that kind of performance. After 17 overs, the 24-year-old had scored 44 off 40 balls with his team needing 37 from three overs. That's when Sharma cut loose; he hit Amit Mishra for two sixes in an over and then took matters in his own hands in the final over, of which 18 runs were needed.
When the equation read 11 from three balls, Sharma heaved across the line to get a bottom-edge that sent the ball sailing over the point boundary. A couple of runs off the following delivery meant Sharma needed to get three off the last ball. And he got them in style, dispatching a low full toss from Daniel Christian into the stands at long on. A classic tale of IPL heroics.
Asked to pick the best bowler in the world in a recent interview, Brett Lee didn’t blink once before saying – Wasim Akram. “He taught me how to bowl the in-swinger with the new ball,” the Australian pace superstar conceded.
During IPL 2011, Eoin Morgan was asked to name the toughest bowler he had faced ever. England’s young stroke-maker shot back, “Wasim Akram in the nets.”
In his first interview after taking over as Kolkata Knight Riders’ coach, Tervor Bayliss told iplt20.com that it would be silly if he didn’t use Akram’s expertise to prepare batsmen for the IPL 2012 bowlers.
And this is just a random sampling. Wasim Akram, a nerve-shattering bowler in his playing days, is now a fine repository of cricketing knowledge, marked by an approachability and humility that makes him the ideal bowling coach.
In an exclusive interview with iplt20.com, Akram spoke about his KKR wards.
The KKR Pace Army
“I work with a very talented group of bowlers. We have a mix of seniors and youngsters; I have a different approach to both. My main job is to give them confidence. I cannot teach fast bowling to Brett Lee. I can only tell him what to bowl in different circumstances.”
“Brett Lee is a very quick learner and a very good listener. I have been working on certain deliveries with him and he’s grasping it all very well. It is very difficult to bowl the in-swinger with the new ball, but he has learnt very quickly. I think that’s the reason why he’s been so successful in limited-overs cricket in the last year and a half.
He struggles a bit on Indian wickets because of two things. First, he relies heavily on pace and doesn’t have enough variations in his bowling. Secondly, his smooth and beautiful action makes it easy for the batsman to watch him. Bowlers like me, or Dale Steyn, do well because of our quick-arm action, which ensures the batsman has less time to react.”
The Young Guns
“Jaydev [Unadkat], Shami Ahmed and Pradeep Sangwan – all these bowlers have been getting wickets in domestic cricket. Getting wickets on Indian tracks shows these boys have the potential. It’s very difficult to judge a bowler on the basis of his T20 performance because if you have a bad day – it doesn’t matter how well you’ve bowled – you might go for 40-50 runs. I judge a bowler [on the basis of his performance] in the longer versions of the game. This is a good bunch of bowlers. They’re hardworking and will improve. That will eventually benefit KKR.”
Stars in the making
“I’m really impressed with Shami Ahmed. He plays first-class cricket for Bengal and in the IPL he’s a part of KKR. I think Shami Ahmed is almost ready to play for India.
Varun Aaron is quite sharp. First of all he has to get fit. He’s got this fitness issue since the last two years, which is a shame. He’s just begun his international career and he should be playing for India regularly.”
The Science of Swing
“I see fast-bowling coaches around the world these days relate swing bowling to things like an upright seam. Another phrase I’ve learned from coaches these days is ‘to load the ball’. I don’t know what that means. If I struggle to understand it, how will a young Indian or Pakistani bowler understand it? It just complicates things.”
“It is actually very simple. Swing lies in the wrist; the more you play with your wrist, the better you’ll become at swinging the ball. That’s where the nets come handy. I can go and turn my wrist over naturally but I should also be able to bring the ball in to surprise the batsman. For that I need to practice hard.”
“We perhaps have the most number of all-rounders. We have Yusuf Pathan, Ryan ten Doeschate, Shakib Al Hasan, Rajat Bhatia and Laxmi Ratan Shukla. Not all of them have clicked but I believe the variety we have in our batting and bowling is among of the best in the tournament.”
A ‘Gambhir’ leader
“Gautam takes his cricket very seriously. I would’ve been a little more relaxed if I were in his place. I go to his room ever other night and try and have a bit of a laugh. I try not to talk cricket with him. I tell him that we can talk as much cricket he wants in the team meeting but not at that time. Overall, he’s a very genuine person. The team loves him and the players know that he feels for the team.
As a captain, Gautam is always very involved. I can see him grow as a leader – he’s quickly learning how to play on the opposition’s mind. He’s getting the knack of not doing what the opponent wants you to do. I believe he has a bright future ahead of him as a captain.”