The Underdogs Steal the Show

Well, people say there is always ‘an abominable silence after a deadly storm’, but here at IPL, the circumstances never seemed to ease out, even after weeks of stormy nights, days of hard work and a long month of nerve-wrecking clashes. This maiden season of IPL has seen a lot in terms of the spirit of the players, the mind games played the captains, the dwindling match situations, and the exciting games going right down the wire in search of a worthy crown-owner.

In this league of matches, many teams lost their way, many traced back their path after a disappointing start but ultimately, the teams which displayed the right mix of character and aggression, a perfect balance of assertiveness and calmness, a consistent and focused approach made it to the semi-finals.
There was no dearth of teams breaking down to the gravity of the circumstances, losing it out when they were so close to grabbing a win, or wandering everywhere just for that initial breakthrough, that debut victory that would get them going. However despite all that, the winner is the bunch that knows its own strength and weaknesses, the group that clings to that master plan of theirs, the team that knows when to hit it hard and when to keep their calm is the ultimate stand-out from the crowd of ordinary players. With the initial matches separating out the weak links – the Royal Challengers, Bangalore (though I must say that the cheerleaders of Dr Vijay Mallaya were more exciting than his team) and the Deccan Chargers, Hyderabad – the game narrowed down to the other six. Soon after, a poor set of performances by the Knight Riders, Kolkatta (despite desperate media appearances/controversies gripping ShahRukh’s way of backing his players) brought the fight for the semis down to the teams of Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils. For the unawares, by that time our beloved Sachin had made his appearance in the playing XI, and yet the result was nothing to boast about with the MI losing their nerves at crunch situations.
Finally, after a series of exhausting league matches, we had our four front-runners for the crown battling it out in the semi-finals – the Kings XI Punjab (thanks to Preity Zinta’s flying kisses to his boys after each of their wins!), the Chennai Super Kings, the Rajasthan Royals and the Delhi DareDevils. Although there was the expectation of witnessing crucial and presumably challenging matches, the semis on the contrary conveyed the impression that the wrong teams had gotten through to this much viewed stage. An easy victory for the Rajasthan Royals and the Chennai Super Kings at this juncture took the eyes off the rest and got everyone engrossed in betting for sole winner, the Numero Uno who would inaugurate this concept of IPL by stamping his name on its very first record. The bookies and the betters had a tough time singling out who would emerge victorious, puzzled by the commitment of a team which had an experienced and energetic captain to its credit (RR) and the aggression of the players that enjoyed the support of an international T20 winner as their captain(CSK).
Well, the decision was tough, the situation was demanding as there were 1.2 million dollars at stake waiting in the hands of the BCCI to be gifted to its rightful owner. After a spectacular, enticing, and amazing final that almost covered for the dead, one-sided semis, we had a winner within us emerging out from the shadows of big banners and sparkling stardom. Yes, it was The Rajasthan Royals, the team which had for long functioned as an underdog, the group that had been sidelined, ripping apart all the controversies and weird predictions and cementing the fact that in the game of cricket it is only the team spirit, the combined effort, the strategized moves that make all the difference. Cheers to their teamwork!
Ishant Arora

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