The tenth edition of this Indian Premier League was much like the ones that preceded it — entertainment aplenty, gloss and bling, and a couple of rain-induced late nights. Providentially, the tournament never fails to supply high-octane cricket. Plenty happened over the last month and half over 60 matches. Below are the best, and worst, most of it all.
Best team — Mumbai Indians
There’s only one previous case in the IPL when a group that ended at the peak of the league proceeded to win the tournament. That’s only one of the more peculiar details of the tournament, but Mumbai Indians became the second side to do so, and it was well deserved. This wasn’t a typical Mumbai campaign, in which a mid-season turnaround shape catapulted them to the name. This triumph was based on solid, consistent performances during the championship, with emphasis on team work rather than individual gifts. Mumbai are traditionally poor starters, but this year they embarked on a six-match winning series after losing their opener to Rising Pune Supergiant. They had been the first side to qualify for the knockouts, and the only side to hit the 20-point mark. Their only concern was the apparent jinx they had against Pune — going into the last, they’d lost all three of the Maharashtra derbies. However, they won the significant of those competitions in the final, their desperation and hunger helping seal a third triumph. They were the most consistent side, the most balanced team, and no one deserved the name more than they did.
Best batsman — David Warner
David Warner showed why he’s one of the first names in the numerous all-time IPL XIs doing the rounds. Having led Sunrisers Hyderabad to the name last year, their captain was not satiated. Even scoring 848 runs last season didn’t bag him that the top-scorer award — which went to Virat Kohli, that was in one of these rare zones each cricketer dreams of being. This year, Warner scored 641 runs in 14 matches at a mean of 58.27 and also a strike-rate of 148.81 — a complete 143 runs more than Gautam Gambhir in 2nd place, having played two games less. His 59-ball 126 aided Sunrisers post their highest total, and also the highest by any team against Kolkata Knight Riders. It had been power-hitting at its most devastating, and Warner’s capacity to emphasise them regularly makes him one of the most dangerous batsmen in the format.
This is a toss-up involving two extremely fine bowlers. Bhuvneshwar Kumar directs the charts with 26 wickets in 14 matches, but because of its absolute effect he has on the batsmen, it is Jasprit Bumrah who chooses this label. He has largely been used as a nullifying force in the death overs, his pin-point yorkers at daunting speed making it impossible for opposition batsmen to select singles off him, let alone the big hits. He has 20 wickets in 16 matches — six Bhuvneshwar — but his Super Over functionality against Gujarat Lions underlined why he’s such a prospect of India’s limited-overs squad. He had 11 runs to defend, but that has been five runs more than he had as he blended up yorkers with speed variants to confound Brendon McCullum and Aaron Finch. It had been exceptional skill under pressure.
When Rising Pune Supergiant decided to shell out Rs 14.5 crore, almost half their auction budget, on the England allrounder Ben Stokes, there were concerns raised within the logic behind the decision — Stokes would not even be accessible for the knockout round, even if Pune did qualify. As it turned, the decision was a masterstroke. After a few games to get into his stride, Stokes came good with the violin, with the ball and in the field, also was critical cog from the Pune’s wheel as they eight of the last ten games and sealed the next spot in the table. Stokes scored 316 runs in 11 outings — such as a match-winning unbeaten 103 against Gujarat Lions — in an average of 31.60 and a strike-rate of 142.98. In addition, he picked 12 wickets at a market of 7.18, and has been Pune’s designated death bowler. Had he played the closing, Pune’s narrative could have been quite distinct.
Catch of this tournament — Jaydev Unadkat vs Lendl Simmons, IPL fixtures 2017 Final
Pune might have lost the closing by an inch, but if Jaydev Unadkat plucked this grab from nowhere, they were flying. Mumbai were reeling after losing Parthiv Patel two chunks before, but Unadkat was not in a mood to relent. An off-cutter induced a miscue off Lendl Simmons, back down the floor, but Unadkat was in his follow through. Without skipping a beat, Unadkat dived to his left always difficult when the motion is taking you the other way — plucked out the ball and then held on to it with his palms. Defeat later on will shadow the catch, but it was one which needed incredible skill and reflexes.
Maybe there was too much anticipation on Royal Challengers Bangalore — as is the situation before they begin every championship. They were, in actuality, finalists in 2016 which brings with it specific pressures and expectations. However, two or three absentees through injury meant Bangalore’s striking shortage of depth in the group was brought to the forefront. Their large players didn’t perform, their bowling attack was toothless, their middle order was nearly non-existentent. When Kohli was requested to analyse a specific reduction, he also gave a damning indictment. If Kohli expected that would ignite something in his side, it did not. Bangalore won all of three matches from 14, and one of those seven points they managed was due to a washout. The management will possess much overhauling to do ahead of the next season.
Biggest complaint — Danny Morrison’s commentary
Danny Morrison is a mildly controversial figure the average IPL consumer has grown accustomed to over the years. Unfortunately, he is not music to everyone’s ears. His comment is both loud and boisterous, his antics always threaten to cross a point, and he keeps coming back each year without altering a beat. Regrettably, his over-the-top manner of comment is charged as what the IPL needs — this has to change at the soonest.