A post I had written exactly one year ago on another blog. Only partially relevant today, but interesting nevertheless -
May 27 - The Chennai SuperKings beat the Deccan Chargers today to enter the Semifinals of the inaugural IPL tournament. With this the final 4 teams in the tournament are, well, final. They are the Rajasthan Royals, the Punjab Kings Eleven, the Chennai SuperKings and the Delhi Daredevils. Some thoughts :
1. This is the symbolic end of an era in Indian cricket. The 4 biggest stars of Indian cricket - Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid and Laxman - all failed to qualify for the knockout stage of the IPL. For the first time in decades there will be a major Cricket final on Indian soil which will have none of these 4 names participating.
2. The IPL has seen a passing of the torch from this senior generation to the younger lot of Dhoni, Yuvraj and Sehwag who will form the core of the Indian team in a couple of years.
3. The IPL has conclusively proved that Twenty20 Cricket is a younger man's game. Despite Ganguly's heroics with the bat and the ball, and despite gritty knocks by Laxman and Dravid, they simply could not find the consistency and tactical fluency to master the faster format. Tendulkar did nothing other than that one catch against Rajasthan to get Shane Watson out.
4. Tendulkar is so fragile and brittle now that everytime he falls everyone expects him to pick up an injury. What a disappointing end to what a glorious career. His heart is still in it, but the body just does not holdup anymore.
5. So Sehwag can bat hammer and tongs in T20 and in Test Cricket but cannot figure out the 50 over format? I think those who would take his IPL performance as proof that Sehwag is back need to keep in mind that the IPL is being played (a) in India, (b) on flat batting tracks, and (c) with shortened boundaries. That said, Sehwag's batting has been stupendous to watch, and is proof that left to his own devices he is an unstoppable force of nature.
6. A couple years ago, there was talk that the Aussies were so invincible and their bench strength so deep that they could easily put together a second international eleven that would give any other international side a run for its money. I think today India can safely make the same claim. The likes of Gautam Gambhir, Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina cannot find a consistent place in the Indian team, but can walk into any international team other than Australia. Players like Manpreet Gony, Swapnil Asnodkar, Abhishek Nayar, YoMahesh, Shikhar Dhawan, Dhawal Kulkarni, Vriddhiman Saha, Ravindra Jadeja, Pragyan Ojha, Yusuf pathan and Siddharth Trivedi are exciting players and future stars who give great hope for the future health of Indian cricket even as the 4 greats enter their final years. There IS light after Sachin/Saurav/Rahul/VVS.
7. It is a very welcome development to see some oldtimers take the IPL opportunity to resurrect their careers - Venugopal Rao has reinvented himself, while Parthiv Patel has demonstrated great character. Nehra has shown some fire, and bowled himself back into India contention, while Kaif has proven his usefulness in the middle order as well as in fielding.