On Matters That Matter

The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones

Twenty20: A Country For Old Men

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In comparison to the well-over-a-century-old Test Cricket and almost four decades of One Day Internationals, Twenty20 can certainly be called the ‘New Kid in Town’; a smash hit and wonderful song of The Eagles. However, it is the title of the multi-Oscar winning film ‘No Country For Old Men’ that puts the current IPL in perspective; only because it provides the perfect and sharp contrast.

The ‘so-called old men’ of cricket are having a ball at the game that is supposed to be tailor-made for young and fresh legs and that has been the biggest thrill that the tournament has provided so far. Who would have thought that the top names of the third season of IPL would feature Jacques Kallis, Chaminda Vaas, Anil Kumble, Sachin Tendulkar, Murali, Gilchrist etc?

Jacques Kallis has been phenomenal and he brings so much to the table with his rock solid batting that is sprinkled with assured and audacious stroke-play, his more than handy bowling, and safe catching to top it all. The graph of the Royal Challengers Bangalore has just kept going up since Kumble took charge of the team and besides leadership he has also adapted his bowling to the demands of this format that can easily kill the spirit of a bowler. But then what format can kill the spirit of a bowler like Kumble, even if he is measured in four over spells?

What these old men have proved is that no matter what the format one would be a fool to consider them as just a few guests at a party being hosted for someone else. It may not be right to club Andrew Symonds with the old lot but it’s worthwhile to note that he is about 35 and has been around for a while. Symonds changed a game by plucking out a beauty with sheer brilliance and the catch was so good that his pointing the finger ever so slowly towards the dressing room almost looked like an understatement.

It was the moment that changed the game on its head. Karthik was batting on 42 from 25 balls and the Delhi Daredevils were 152 for 5 needing 20 runs in 12 balls when Symonds came on to bowl the penultimate over having gone for just 15 in his three overs in which he had picked one wicket.

The momentum had just swung in the favour of Delhi with Karthik having hit Rohit Sharma for two fours and a six and then taken a single to retain strike. The first ball of the 19th over went for four with Karthik playing a lovely square cut and Delhi needed 16 from 11 balls with 5 wickets in hand. That is when Symonds came up with that magical catch that would gone for a certain boundary but for those outstretched fingers and the lunging towards the right side body of a superb athlete.

It was a great over in which he picked another wicket and gave a buffer of 14 runs for the crafty and retired from international cricket Vaas. Vaas was accurate as ever and two more wickets fell in the first two balls of Vaas and it was Deccan all the way.

The three top teams right now are captained by Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, and Adam Gilchrist; two retired and one the longest-serving Master on the circuit. Tendulkar notched up his second fifty of IPL 3 when his unbeaten 71 saw Mumbai home in the penultimate over against Kolkata. It was the bowlers who had restricted Kolkata for an under par score by sticking to their line and full length and then as Atul Wasan pointed out it was the professor coming out himself and giving everyone a demonstration of how it is done. The masterclass of Tendulkar was there to see.

This new kid called T20 certainly enjoys having the oldies around. The shorter form requires just about three hours of field work and that could be the reason why it is proving to be such a good country for old men.

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