By Bijon Keswani

“Players today are not playing to represent the country at Test level anymore, everyone’s looking to make their mark in the IPL”  Rahul Dravid

However much we believe that the IPL is entertaining and good for younger cricketers, there is a subtle hint of criticism about the attitude of the younger lot from one of the greatest number 3 batsman ever.

Cross bat hitting, obnoxious looking techniques and some audacious shot making characterize this format. Yet the purist in us finds immense joy in a wonderful straight drive rather than a heave over mid wicket. Can proper cricket still find a place in this younger format? I believe it can… 

Great players will perform at any level and in any format. And this edition of the IPL shows no different. Of the top 10 batsman, 4 would be considered perfect for the longer format of the game!  Ajinkya Rahane is currently second with 332 runs; the other four are Gautam Gambhir {5}, Kevin Pietersen {8}, Shaun Marsh {9} and Rahul Dravid {10}. Infact, the 3 highest individual scores {103,103, and 93} have been made by Rahane, Pietersen and Gambhir.

Gambhir and Dravid are accomplished cricketers. Their experience in all formats of the game, allows them to read situations very carefully.  Throughout their careers, they have scored runs in front of the wicket.  Neither will look for the ‘reverse- sweep’ nor shuffle around the crease to get the easy run. Their ability lies in playing each ball on its merit, and dispatching those that deserve the treatment. Dravid joked against the Deccan Chargers- “It is the only format I’m playing anymore”. How we wish that could change! The man, now part of the ‘old guard’, is proving his critics wrong once again through this format. His ability to start the innings without having the slog at every ball shows that ‘proper cricket’ can still achieve the same results. Dravid emphasized the need for experience even in this format, a comment that was agreed on by Deccan captain, Kumar Sangakarra, another apt practitioner of the ‘traditional technique’.

Ajinkya Rahane for one has been a surprise package for the tournament. The ex-Mumbai Indian, could not catch a break at the Wankhede, and yet is lighting the Savay Sawai Mansingh Stadium on fire by scoring the first century of the tournament. {Rahane unfortunately missed out earlier with his 98 against the Kings XI Punjab}. His technique and ability is admirable and so pleasing to the lover of the test format. Rajasthan are currently fifth in the standings and would bank on the young man’s performances through the tournament. If Ajinkya continues to perform well, who knows, he might finish the season with the Orange cap or even better, a call up to the National side. Considering the drop in form from Viru over the past few series {his last century was his 200 against West Indies}, the Nawab of Najafgarh ought to be worried about the form of this young lad….

Another performance that caught my eye was that of Kevin Pietersons against the Deccan Chargers. KP to me is all about attitude, but not necessarily in a bad way. His skirmish against Dale Steyn highlighted his swag. He was given a tough time by the current best Test bowler, {infact he was dropped thrice in the innings} but every time he was beaten, he would respond with a top quality shot that oozed class and grit. The adopted Englishman has only once resorted to his controversial ‘switch hit’ this IPL {scoring 50* from 26 balls against the Mumbai Indians} and therein lies his class. He banks himself on orthodox batting shot to get his runs as highlighted in his century with 80% of his runs coming in the ‘V’. KP has only played 6 innings, and performances like this will leave Dilliwaalas licking their lips for even more.

Now that is good quality, straight bat cricket…

After all the criticism of Indian cricket since last year’s World Cup, the IPL has still brought back some life to the game. As fans, we’re looking for that strike that sails over 100 metres into the stands or a little jig from a fielder who just held onto a wonderful catch and maybe even catch a glimpse of the wonderful cheerleaders. In all, the entertainment is back!

The big hitters will surely light up the stadiums like previous editions, but for us purists, it is great to see, technique hold its own against pure brawn.

Image courtesy: http://1click.indiatimes.com/

 

About the Author | Though he’s currently working with Ernst & Young, Bijon has varied interests including analysis of sports. While I’ve had innumerable conversations with him about Tennis {I’m a Federer loyalist and he supports Nadal}, his passion for cricket is evident in his constant tweets about the IPL, and of course this article on the IPL. This self-proclaimed foodie is also a video game enthusiast, amateur photographer, and loves music. And he’s in Little Black Book, Delhi. 

About The Author

Suchita

The former events manager, and PR and Marketing executive decided to give up the good life, to take on something greater- running her own start-up. Give her a non-fiction book, some place in the outdoors, running shoes, Bombay Bicycle Club and Jay Z, and you've got a happy camper.

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Tina Chatterjee says:

Its an interresting look from a young mans point of view. and oh so well written.