Deccan v. Delhi
Star among stars... Mohammad Asif (Delhi D'devils)
It's hard to ignore a man who captains his side to a 9-wicket victory, while hitting an unbeaten 94 with the best strike rate of the tournament. But it's becoming increasingly clear that Delhi's wins will be carved by the work of their bowlers, and in a day in which the entire unit did a stellar job, Asif was the pick of the lot.
I wish there was super slo-mo footage of him in action -- he's one of those players whose skills evade proper description, and not even the instant replay captures his essence. He has an almost hypnotic run-up, very loose and serpentine. Sometimes the batsman seems to get lost for a second, and can only react as the ball is halfway down the pitch. His seam positioning is, if you'll pardon the oxymoron, flawlessly imperfect. It's never straight and perpendicular. It's always slightly wobbly, a little off-axis, ready to dart in any given direction... but never too much so. Always enough to cause trouble, but never so much it just whistles by futilely.
Old-timer on an egg-timer... Shahid Afridi (Deccan Chargers)
Does he even bother batting in the nets anymore? It's hard to believe, but it's already been 12 years since Afridi's 37-ball century at age 16, and he doesn't seem to have improved his batting one iota since. It's hard to envision any other player who could go more than a decade at the highest level without having gotten any better at his craft. Again, we must keep reminding ourselves that Afridi is now a strike-bowler, and should be treated that way. But even Chris Martin must clip on the pads and practice a few shots now and then, surely.
Catch from the catchment... Yo Mahesh (Delhi D'devils)
He has the best name in the tournament, and the look of a young Abdul Razzaq, right down to the doe eyes and the constant look of mild incredulity. He definitely benefited today from a dream start by his more celebrated bowling colleagues, but, as the one Indian fast bowling option in the lineup, he could prove useful later in the tournament by giving the team some selection flexibility.
3 Bullets to the head...
was the first game where the stadium was noticeably not full. In fact,
at the start of the game it looked half-empty. I found that surprising -- wasn't this the Chargers' first
home game? There doesn't seem to be as much cohesion and passion around
this team than many of the others, and it's definitely showing in the
field. Has Andrew Symonds cracked a smile yet in the tournament?
- Don't tell anyone, but I think the Chargers' cheerleaders have been stealing some of their moves from the East Compton Clovers. All those pelvic thrusts and suggestive gyrations are trademark Clover moves, I swear. Let's hope they don't come down to the stadium and show them up during the next game.
- Somewhat of a big deal today was made in the commentary box about the fact that Virender Sehwag barely got an ovation from the Hyderabad crowd after reaching his fifty. Equally, Rahul Dravid said was surprised when he hit a four in India and no one cheered. Well, isn't that exactly what we want? To build fan loyalty to the team, not the country, in order to create more local rivalries and a better atmosphere? Don't worry, patriots, that nationalistic pride isn't going away anywhere... that's been corked in there pretty deep through decades of shame and fear, so as soon as international play begins again, we can all go back to calling each other monkeys and curry-munchers if we want.
(And yes, that was a Bring It On reference. What of it?)