Two matches, two losses and an interminable wait for another game. Who dreams up of these schedules, where some teams have already played 4 but DC just 2? It’s been more or less on expected lines for the Deccan Chargers, no wins yet, but I nearly shattered my TV screen on Monday night.
There aren’t many sports where you can go from ecstasy to sheer agony in a matter of minutes. Cricket is one of them. So too, I guess is football. And F1, I can surely make a case for it. Perhaps even golf, and basketball… Well, alright. Every sport can make you go from ecstasy to sheer agony, even the IPL. I mean how many times have we groaned when a great play is defined as a ‘Citi moment of success’?
But that’s not the point.
DC vs Mumbai may have been a pedestrian match highlighted by an unbelievable exhibition of skillful fast bowling from Dale Steyn. Like most champions, he grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and almost did the job for DC (Incidentally, what was his celebration all about? Rickshaw driver meets rugby fly-half?) Steyn stood out as easily the best cricketer on either side, and indeed, perhaps the single-most jaw dropping performance of the IPL. It was reminiscent of that brilliant post-lunch spell in the Cape Town Test match to Sachin Tendulkar.
On Monday night, he embarrassed Richard Levi, showed up Rohit Sharma’s international inadequacies, and through sheer force of will, made DC look like they were competing. Men against boys, mismatch, etc – all the sporting clichés came to mind when Steyn was bowling.
But, ‘yeh IPL hai, boss'. The sport always meets entertainment, and farcical value at that. For all of Steyn’s brilliance, that spell won’t be remembered (and come to think of it, neither will the Cape Town one in a few years, sadly) because Dan Christian provided the laughs. I wept.
That was when my TV came dangerously close to getting ‘retired hurt’. I gave it the full Virat Kohli, and being a ‘smart TV’, it may get its own back soon. I dread to think about that.
More to the point, DC’s imbalance as a team is already showing, and barring Steyn (and perhaps Sanga), there's no true leader on the pitch. Steyn’s heroics have only papered over the batting cracks and made it look like a closer contests than it should have been.
In effect, an IPL-winning team, which was gelling together and stringing results was disbanded last year. How does that amount to team building?
The pity is that had DC adopted a similar strategy to Mumbai, retaining four of their best players and then adding to the team. I see MI with a lot of envy, they have a number of game-changers they can turn to at any stage of the game, none more so than Malinga, and he does it again and again.
Mumbai Indians won the CLT20 last year, while CSK have easily been the most consistent team in the competition. Simply because they’ve retained their best players and built a side around them.
I can only imagine the kind of damage Gilchrist, Sanga, Symonds and Dale Steyn could have collectively caused. In combing the news surrounding DC before IPL 5, the only media bytes available were how the management team has roped in Emirates in a long-term sponsorship deal, which, irritatingly, always reminds me of Arsenal FC.
The fixture list looks daunting now. It seems unlikely that the team will ever get into any kind of decent rhythm if it has to play once in a week, and will continue to rely on Steyn as a force of nature.
But keep the scheduling issue aside. Question to the management – is it more important that you run it as a business with the lowest cost and high commercial revenues, or to win matches, trophies, participate in the CLT20 and get more people behind your team? How do you ensure DC becomes a winning team – through sponsorships or through good cricket?
Answers on a post-card, and perhaps it’ll qualify for a Citi moment of success.