[Assam] [assam] Indian Premier League Saves Best Cricket for Title Game
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Mon May 28 19:24:20 IST 2012
New York Times (May 28, 2012)
Indian Premier League Saves Best Cricket for Title Game
Dibyangshu Sarkar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Manvinder Singh Bisla was the star for Kolkata in the Indian Premier
League final as his team upended the defending champion, Chennai.
By HUW RICHARDS
Few expected him to take part in the championship match Sunday, but on
Saturday night the Kolkata Knight Riders made the surprise decision to
pick Bisla over the hard-hitting New Zealander, Brendon McCullum.
Bisla, 27, rewarded Kolkata with a performance that made him the
unchallenged hero of the day as Kolkata won its first I.P.L. title by
beating the Chennai Super Kings, the two-time defending champions, in
Chennai, formerly Madras.
He helped ensure that the I.P.L., which was checkered by on- and
off-the-field incidents in its fifth season, got the perfect ending: a
thrilling finish, a new champion and a storybook tale of an
little-known talent triumphing on a big day.
McCullum is the third-leading scorer of all time in the Twenty20
format. He holds the record for the highest-ever single innings, 158
not out for Kolkata in the first ever I.P.L. match in 2008.
Bisla played just once in Kolkata’s previous 13 matches; he was dropped
after a run of low scores early in the season. While Kolkata, which is
owned by the Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, has a lot of highly paid
players, Bisla is not among them. As an Indian never chosen to play for
his country, he was not entered into the I.P.L.’s lucrative
rotisserie-style auction, but confined to a fixed maximum salary of 30
lakhs, around $54,000, for the season.
When Chennai, famous for its ability to defend targets, blasted a
challenging 190 from its 20 six-ball overs, its move to sacrifice
McCallum’s rapid scoring potential looked even more questionable.
Kolkata then lost its captain and leading batsman, Gautam Gambhir, in
its first over. Bisla responded by playing the innings of his life.
“It was one of the best Twenty20 innings I have ever seen,” said
Gambhir, who has seen plenty. “Especially against the reigning
champions in their own back yard.”
Bisla blasted 89 runs from only 48 balls before he was dismissed,
adding a total of 136 runs with Jacques Kallis, the veteran South
“I felt a little tense, but after getting one or two over the fence, I
got the confidence,” said Bisla, who also acknowledged the influence of
his batting partner. “Kallis is a legend. Batting alongside him was a
great opportunity. He asked me to keep it simple, and I got going.”
The pair threatened to make the target look easy, but once Bisla was
gone, Chennai showed the qualities that have made it the dominant force
in the I.P.L., with two titles, four appearances in the finals and an
unmatched five trips to the playoffs in five seasons.
Three more wickets fell, including Kallis, by then handicapped by a
muscle strain and unable to take the quick runs essential in tight
“I had to put my batting gloves on, because I was biting my nails,”
said one Kolkata player, the Australian pace bowler Brett Lee.
It took two thumping shots to the boundary by another young Indian,
Manoj Tiwary, to take Kolkata to victory by the margin of five wickets
with two balls to spare. The excited owner, Khan, turned cartwheels in
the outfield and proclaimed the victory “the most remarkable thing in
the lives of all of us with K.K.R.”
It was also a team triumph. Kolkata had leaned on Gambhir and the spin
bowling of the young West Indian Sunil Narine to get to the final, but
neither contributed much on the biggest day. Narine, whose total of 24
wickets was the second-highest in the tournament, was named Player of
the Season. (Narine’s wickets came at a much more affordable price than
the 25 by the league leader, Albie Morkel of Chennai.)
One television analyst, the Australian Dirk Nannes, a former fast
bowler with Delhi and Bangalore, said Sunday that the I.P.L. was “so
different, so out of the box compared to everything else in cricket.”
Nannes might have added that those differences are not always for the
best. The 2012 season started with one franchise, Kochi, expelled and
another, Pune, allowed to play only after a lengthy legal dispute. Five
young Indian players were suspended this month after a television
report appeared to show them seeking under-the-counter payments. Luke
Pomersbach, an Australian player with Bangalore, recently reached an
out-of-court settlement with a woman and her fiancé after he was
accused of assaulting them. And there were early-season indications
that television audiences, the tournament’s foundation, were down from
The Indian cricket authorities at least appear to be addressing the
issues they can deal with. Some have suggested that if young players
are indeed seeking extra payments, it is because Indian players can
receive only limited salaries if they have not played for India.
Rajeev Shukla, the chairman of the I.P.L., told The Times of India that
starting next year, Indians, even if they had not played for the
national team, would join other players in the open auction. That is
great news for Bisla, who did wonders for his market value with his
play Sunday. And the same newspaper also reported that some on the
Board of Control for Cricket in India, the ruling body for the sport
there, are favoring the return of Pakistani players to the I.P.L. next
year, after a four-season absence. Security concerns have often been
cited for the ban on those players.
The I.P.L. claims it offers its fans the best cricketers in the world,
but that has to come with an asterisk, because the Pakistani national
team has the best record in Twenty20 international matches. Next year,
it looks as if that claim could be that much closer to the truth.
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