The 'Grand Tamasha' is finally over. And what a 'Tamasha' it was...IPL 3 has come to an end with my home team- 'Chennai Super Kings' lifting the trophy. Personally I couldn't have asked for more.
Unfortunately a bit of sheen of the victory has been lost thanks to scandals surrounding the game. Even Chennai's own Hindu newspaper decided that the IPL drama merited front page news over the victory. Such is the state of affairs right now.
I don't want to get in to the whole IPL fiasco right now. I'd like to savour the moment and highlight some of the good things of IPL 3.
The best thing of IPL 3 is that we won (pretty obvious that one). Chennai's been the most consistent team through all seasons of IPL. It was a last minute entry in to the semi-finals, but I think the team managed to win the crucial moments and that's what's made the difference.
Dhoni has been the stand-out. His whirlwind innings against Punjab, that saw Chennai enter the semis, created momentum and from then on the team dominated everyone that came it's way. A captain's knock can do that a team, and Dhoni delivered when it mattered. Even in the finals- it was Dhoni's one handed six that set the tempo for Chennai's flourish towards the end of it's batting. He's an astute leader, reads the game brilliantly and uses his resources very wisely. Opening with Ashwin has been one of his successes in the tournament and the rookie offie responded brilliantly to the challenge.
No analysis of Chennai will be complete without mentioning Suresh Raina. He has been the stand-out player of the IPL. He's matured and plays according to the situation. Most importantly he backs himself and that's what's brought him his success. He's just 24 years of age and already the leading scorer of IPL. I have no doubt that he will go down as one of the legends in IPL history.
Murali Vijay looks like the next big thing to happen to Indian cricket. His clean hitting has attracted everyone. And if he uses the opporunity that he's got he will look back at IPL 3 as the defining moment of his career. Dougie Bollinger bowled brilliantly when it mattered. His pace brought more fire-power to the bowling unit. My favourite Chennai player for this IPL has been R. Ashwin. I hated him for losing that match against Punjab. But what a turn-around he brought to his game since that. Bowling within the first 6 overs- his accurate bowling proved decisive more than once. Even in the finals- he set the tempo for Chennai in the second innings by bowling a maiden in the very first over. For me, Ashwin and Ojha are the bowlers to watch-out for in the future. They will most likely be the main-stay of our bowling attack in the years to come.
Badrinath had a good tournament, though he still doesn't look very comfortable in this format. Muralitharan bowled well in patches. I think age is finally catching up with the old wizard. Jakati provided good support in the middle, though his lack of variations made him predictable and thus a target for the sloggers. Albie Morkel has been Chennai's war-horse. He's there to bowl, bat, field and do anything and everything. He had a very good tournament and that's been a big reason for Chennai's success.
Mathai Hayden didn't have a very good tournament. His name still evokes fear in the opposition and that may have been good enough reason to play him. But he's definitely not looked like the Hayden of yore. Barring that one whirl-wind knock against Delhi there's nothing much to write home about for Hayden. It was strange to see Hayden being over-shadowed by a relative new-comer Murali Vijay. It might well turn-out to be Hayden's last IPL. He's been great for Chennai- just not in this IPL.
Chennai's Indian pace attack looked completely out-of-sorts and got hammered in most games. Balaji looks totally low on confidence. Sudip Tyagi and Gony need to work on bowling better. The other players played their bit- parts too. Hussey didn't get too much of a chance to play. I'm sure he'll be slotted in during the Champions League. Thilan Thusharra looks a genuine prospect. It was unfortunate that he couldn't play more despite peforming in the limited chances that he got. Makhaya Ntini was wasted. I don't know why he didn't play at all- he should have been given a game atleast. Parthiv Patel, poor chap, initially he played as an opener though Dhoni was already there to keep. But with Vijay coming in to his own, the guy had to make way. Aniruddha Srikanth's cameos in the semis and finals were very important, though the performances themselves were too small to judge the guy by.
I was watching the finals with a few friends of mine and we went absolutely over-the-top when Chennai won. It was just fantastic. We are not the most flamboyant city in India. We don't have the history of Delhi or Hyderabad, nor the madness of Mumbai, nor the character of Kolkatta, nor the brazeness of Bangalore. Quite often our city is given the skip when people talk about important cities in India. It is like Chennai is the city that almost is but isn't- and it's always been so.
Last Sunday's victory was special. It was our time under the sun. Chennai now has something that everyone else had been dreaming about- Chennai is the IPL 2010 Champions! Take that everyone! : )