IPL 2023 is over and done with, a nation of 1.4 billion turned up again as avid watchers, over television, new found JIO cinema, and so many more in the stands, some of them paying extra, as reports suggest. It is the annual national euphoria festival. The final was no exception to the rule this year, with its nail-biting finish, down to the last ball. Here is a brief report.
There was so much more this year through the IPL season, an aspirational affair, that represents the young Indian at heart. From small towns, some of them barely heard before, from homes ordinary, tales emerge of how hero worship, dedication and commitment, so many young cricketers have made their mark. Earlier, before the days of IPL, the buck stopped at the Ranji Trophy. Now, IPL has opened the doors to opportunity: knock knock, who’s there? Its IPL! It’s a career, like no other. A cricket crazy nation, has thousands of young talents aspiring to join the IPL riot! A few big takeaways from 2023:
The Finds of the Season
If we talk about top emerging talent, Jaiswal, of course, would be the number one choice; left-handed, home-grown talent for Rajasthan, by the sheer volume of runs that he has scored this season. And the strike rate at which he has scored; expectedly, he has been picked for the Indian quad for the WTC final in London.
Another would be Rinku Singh. We have seen a lot of runs being scored by openers, but we have not seen many lower order batsmen score and Rinku Singh has done that. He has played a more significant role than Russell, upon whom KKR usually relies to finish games.
Sudarshan must be another big discovery, part of the new brigade, for his big hitting abilities. His 96 in the final will remain a most memorable part of this IPL.
There are other bowlers who found popularity, like Tushar Deshpande, who has had a breakthrough season. Coming from multiple different franchises he did not make any significant impact. And suddenly this season with CSK, under Dhoni’s and Fleming’s mentorship, it has been an absolute breakthrough season for him.
Striking Facets of this Season’s IPL
A big takeaway must inevitably be the maturing of Shubham Gill, for his outstanding contribution to his team, and towards his grace in making the big shots. An outstanding batsman, who must keep his cool, and not get swayed by this sudden adulation around him.
A most aggressive IPL, from a batsmanship point of view, because the kind of strike rates we saw are unbelievable. We saw the maximum number of 200 plus scores and most number of 200 plus chases. The most under 25-ball 50’s! So, aggressive batting strike rates have been like the marquee of this tournament.
Many last over finishes, last ball finishes, which we saw this season. But this may not entirely new to IPL.
Consider the confidence of youth. The number of fresh young talent, young faces that we have seen in the tournament, with the confidence and skill sets that they are coming out with, has been like amazing to watch. They have been striking from the first ball, hitting sixes from ball one, and appear most confident and daring in their approach.
The Dhoni Magic!
A most memorable part of this IPL has been the unfolding of Dhoni’s magic. If you see this season, it has pretty much been about Dhoni. Besides the fact that there is speculation that it might be his last season, it has been amazing to see that any stadium you go to, it has been filled with yellow jerseys and Dhoni supporters more than the local home ground supporters. He was always the highlight of all conversations amongst commentators and experts. So, the Dhoni Magic has been the talk of this season! Great that his team won the trophy; it has been a great season for him for his leadership!
If we talk specifically about teams like RR falling off the ladder, while having a great start, it has been poor team strategy. This has been the case with a couple of teams, but especially with RR because they were leading upfront in the initial stages. However, in their case, the problem perhaps was that their three main players, namely Jos Butler, Sanju Samson, and Heitmeyer, they lost form simultaneously, like at the same time, after having a great start. Poor decisions like the strategy off field, the use of impact batting order. Trying to experiment too much and being a little too funky like sending Ashwin early to bat in certain very tough situations. Giving the last over to some new player instead of the more experienced players. Some of this appears unnecessary experimentation!
Whereas in Mumbai’s case, the opposite happened. They started with experimenting a lot. They could not find a settled 11 because they were missing out on a lot of great players and they were not finding their right replacements. But eventually, after the first few games, like the first five-six games, they found that balance. They found that settled 11 and a very important key to this whole puzzle, Surya Kumar Yadav found form. So that also helped.
Ultimately, who takes the cake? The winner! And this year, a most consistent team, that worked through the earlier stages, did not wince once while even losing a match, under the watchful eye of its captain, all adulation must be due for CSK! The winner takes all. A most befitting send off to Captain Dhoni, assuming he will don only the mentor’s cap from now onwards. But then, only time can tell.