Oct 21, 2020 Letters
Kaieteur News – IPL 2020, the 13th edition of the Indian 20 overs professional cricket league, has been the most exciting edition that I have followed. It has been cricket at its best. This year has some of the best performances I ever watched in person or live on TV – extraordinary, spectacular, amazing, sensational, exhilarating; Guyanese are expressing opinions about them in New York and on social media describing some matches and last Sunday’s as the best they ever watched; unforgettable, some say. It is for me the best IPL season so far and I followed all the seasons even attending a few games in person. (I did attend a few games in India in previous editions of IPL and they were great experience – worth attending, quality games and visiting India is highly recommended). In IPL 2020, there were fielding heroics (reminiscent of Jonty Rhodes’ leaps and dives two decades ago), unbelievable catching, brilliant batting even from the aging Chris Gayle, terrific bowling including among West Indians like Dwayne Bravo and Sunil Narine (now suspended), superb wicket keeping even from the old man MS Dhoni. A few matches were super thrilling and nail biting. There were cliffhanger matches that went down to the last ball or last over. One could not ask for better quality cricket, and that is why the IPL is so special, the most watched, and the most advertised of all 20/20 professional leagues around the globe. They are also the most lucrative and have most highly paid players with some earning as much as US$1.5 M a season.
This year’s games are played in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) because the Indian government has not given permission in light of the challenges posed by COVID. A few of the IPL matches were also played in UAE last year because of India’s mammoth elections when security would have been too taxing. This year’s IPL is played in a bubble (no audience or players interaction with the public) just like the CPL 2020 and the WI tour of England summer gone. (UAE is comprised of seven ‘semi’ independence states — Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al Khaimah, and Umm al Quwain. The matches are played in the first three, which have huge multi-purpose stadiums that host cricket matches for the millions of guest workers from South Asia. They are beautiful places to visit, memorable experience and worth a trip as I did over a decade ago. One flies into Dubai or Abu Dhabi and take a bus or a taxi a short distance to the visit the others. They are good test cases for economists and policymakers to study development of developing economies and how to avoid the Dutch Disease).
The most exciting matches of this season were played last Sunday (but many other matches were also very entertaining) when both games were tied and had to be resolved with super-overs, a rarity in cricket. One over is bowled when a game is tied and the team that scores the more runs in that over wins. Only two wickets can fall in that over or else the innings is over and that did happen in an earlier match. There were a couple of super-overs early in the season.
One match last Sunday had two super-overs because the first super-over was also tied necessitating another one. It was somewhat reminiscent of the 50 overs world cup in London in 2019 when the final was tied and had to be resolved by a super-over that was also tied with England declared winner because it scored more boundaries than New Zealand in their innings. That World Cup final and the double super-over match or both matches of last Sunday were the greatest matches I ever saw or perhaps the world ever saw. They were incredible performances. The performances of all the teams were great and they all deserved to win. Any team could have won the matches.
The first match (early in the day) in UAE was between Kolkota and Hyderabad that ended in the tie. Kolkota won the super-over. The other (late evening match) was more captivating because it required two super-overs to get a winner between Punjab and Mumbai. It was nail biting. All eyes were on TV; activities came to a stop until the last ball. Punjab won.
West Indian players were in the thick of the competition so far in UAE including in the batting and bowling as well as in the drama on Sunday. Trinidadian Nicholas Pooran on the final delivery of the super-over with his brilliant throw led to a run out and a tied match. Pooran also cracked a six in the regular match that led to a tie. Chris Gayle, in the same team (Punjab) as Pooran, in the double super-over also cracked a towering six that paved the way for victory in the super super-over. Pooran is among the players in line for player of series award for his hard hitting but his involvement in the competition would be cut short as he is on the team to leave for New Zealand later this month; he toured NZ the last time WI was there before breaking bones in his leg in an accident in Trinidad. He has been an exciting player this year in England, Trinidad and now UAE and the IPL has helped him, Shimron Hetmyer, as well as several other international players to hone in their skills and talent.
Fans look forward for the rest of the IPL season. If the standard in past games is to go by, the remaining twenty games promise to be very exciting.
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