Not a bad start. At all. It would, however, be foolish to start making sweeping generalisations and reaching judgments about the entire league based on one day. It's all so new and novel that we are all learning together as we go along -- players, captains, viewers, analysts, etc. So here at Outside The Line, for the duration of the IPL, we'll try to pull all this new knowledge together, and use it to answer the important questions about this brand new paradigm we've somehow managed to stumble into.
Star among stars... will present the player who shows from his performance that he can really adapt to change and shine in a Twenty20 league.
Old-timer on an egg-timer..., on the other hand, will portray those existing greats who just look unadaptable and out-of-place in the new format, and who will eventually get phased out from the league.
Catch from the catchment... will include the best of the local players who were originally inserted as mere filler in most squads, but who might prove to be just as crucial as the big names in the end.
In addition, 3 Bullets to the head... will be three short, daily, tangential observations about the new league.
Remember, the revolution is being televised. (But the photographers boycotted it.)
April, 18: Bangalore v. Kolkata
Star among stars... Brendon McCullum (Kolkata K'Riders)
Well, duh.We'll save the gripes about absurdly small boundaries -- and NASA bats that let you mistime hits out of the ground -- for another edition. Today, we'll let B-Mac bask.
Old-timer on an egg-timer... Sourav Ganguly (Kolkata K'Riders)
One of the often overlooked aspects behind Ganguly's comeback in the last couple years is how much more defensive he is as a batsman now. It's as if all he did in his hiatus was watch tapes of Gary Kirsten in the nets. Mind you, it was probably a necessary adjustment to his game, since it was the only way he could sell the "experience and gravitas" case to the selectors for getting back into a loaded Test squad. Unfortunately, this makes him almost painful to watch when he's trying to improvise and force the pace in Twenty20. (Keep working on your bowling, Gangers -- it might keep you in the team.)
Catch from the catchment... Ashok Dinda (Kolkata K'Riders)
Praveen Kumar seemed by far the best local player, given the situation, but he's already played internationals, so he doesn't apply for this category. Therefore, Dinda gets the honour for his tight, 2-wicket spell. He has the look of a Sreesanth-clone, without the ADD and the extra pace. (Of course, even Mohammad Sami can be made to look decent if he's given 220 runs to work with, so we won't jump to conclusions yet.)
3 Bullets to the head...
- It’s early days still, but something tells me Jacques Kallis's T-20 career might just be the gift that will keep on giving. Case in point: Third over, first ball of Bangalore's chase. Ishant Sharma bowls a tight little outswinger and Kallis pulls out a textbook back-foot leave, perfectly balanced, head straight, eyes above the ball, rolling the shoulders back, pulling his ass out. It was a slice of pure, classical beauty. The only problem? The asking rate was 12.5/over at the time.
- As McCullum's innings proved, guys who know how to walk across their stumps will be very useful in Twenty20. I bet Kevin Pietersen must be ready to stab whichever ECB bureaucrat keeps telling him he can't sign with the IPL.
- Unless cheerleaders do things in unison, they're always going to look like nothing but drunken strippers in uniforms. It doesn't matter where they're from.