In the last instalment of this series, we talked about how the jaw-dropping success of the Indian Premier League had proved its detractors wrong. But then, it was hardly the final verdict, for there was always scope for new debates to pop up while studying a continuous sequence events.
The sixth edition of the IPL breathed new life to a never-ending dialectic about the blessing or curse that this tournament is for the game. It was an edition where spot-fixing allegations hogged the limelight, pushing everything that occurred between 22 yards to the periphery of our collective consciousness.
Delhi Police arrested four personnel including Rajasthan Royals’ S Sreesanth for involvement in spot fixing. Several more arrests were made after their statements, including CSK team head Gurunath Meiyappan, son-in-law of then BCCI President N Srinivasan.
Later on, the Lodha Panel inquiry ordered a two-year ban for both Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals, with effect from IPL 2016.
And yet there were few performances that stood out, etched for eternity in the minds of the cricketing fandom. Chief among them were Chris Gayle’s 175 against Pune Warriors India. It was a stuff of legends, where a carefree soul spotting a dreadlock like a proponent of Rastafarianism transformed himself into a weapon of mass destruction. It remains the highest score ever achieved by a batter in T20I cricket. Perhaps a few more decades will pass for someone to better Gayle’s 175.
Gayle aggregated 708 runs at a strike rate of just below 156, exceeded only by Michael Hussey, who played an instrumental role in Chennai Super Kings’ run to the final – their fifth in the six editions. Apart from him, both MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina averaged over 40 with the bat.
Raina also notched his first IPL century, scoring 100 off just 53 deliveries against the then Kings XI Punjab. With eight wins and as many losses, Punjab finished sixth in the points table. It was the last IPL for the veteran Adam Gilchrist, who left behind a rich legacy, the notable one being leading Deccan Chargers to the maiden IPL trophy in 2009.
The Hyderabad-based franchise also saw the change in ownership ahead of the IPL 2013. Sun TV Network acquired the team and named it Sunrisers Hyderabad. Cameron White replaced Kumar Sangakkara as captain for the last seven games of the league stage and the Eliminator against Rajasthan. Hyderabad’s journey ended with a crushing defeat to Rajasthan in the knockout game.
Rajasthan, meanwhile, have had the best campaign since winning in the inaugural season. They were invincible at their home ground, where they won all eight league matches. Amit Mishra completed the third hat-trick of his IPL career, returning figures of 4-19 to restrict to bowl out Pune for 108 in a low-scoring thriller.
A punt on James Faulkner in the auction worked as he finished the season as the leading wicket-taker of the tournament. On the other hand, move that did not pan out as planned was the acquisition of Shaun Tait, who bowled just 10 overs across three matches and leaked 98 runs.
Rajasthan finished third and came inches close to making it to their second final. In Qualifier 2, they could not find a way out after getting entrapped by Harbhajan Singh, and could only post 165. Mumbai almost made a meal out of morsel. Fittingly enough, it was a boundary from Harbhajan off the penultimate ball that saw them past the finishing line.
A perennial underachiever since 2008, Mumbai finally reached the final in six attempts, under the leadership of Rohit Sharma, who had to lead the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting and Lasith Malinga. Rohit was handed the role midway through the edition after Ponting, the original captain, dropped himself from the side. A nine-wicket defeat against Delhi Daredevils turned out to be the last game of Ponting’s tenure.
Rohit Sharma kick-started his journey with a victory in the Eden Gardens. From there, everything went upwards for Mumbai. They lost only three games before defeating Chennai Super Kings to clinch their maiden title.
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