There's a first time for everything in life, no matter how old you are, and there's a first time for everything in cricket, too. I think I've taken four catches in an innings before — but certainly not all on the boundary!
It was a really solid, all-round team performance — the kind that builds confidence in the squad for the matches to come. It's all well and good when one or two players produce outstanding performances to with the game for you, but it doesn't really do much for the rest of the individuals in the team.
But the good that comes from a match in which everyone can say that they contributed in an important and significant way can last for weeks. It is particularly important in the IPL because of the compulsory imbalance in every squad which sees the ‘big name’ foreign players and the Indian superstars off-set by the local younger players.
There is enough IPL history now to suggest that it is the performances of the lesser known players which decide how well a team does over the course of a season rather than the ‘stars’ so it makes a big difference if they can find form and confidence early.
Waiting for Lee
It is fabulous to have Gautam and Yusuf Pathan in the squad — they were always brilliant cricketers but they are like new men now that they are World Cup winners.
They have won the biggest prize in the game and that certainly rubs off on the other squad members. We are all looking forward to the arrival next week of Brett Lee, Brad Haddin and Sakib al Hasan after the Bangladesh/Australia series comes to an end.
All three will be fantastic additions to the squad and we're all going to need a bit more depth and experience this year after the expansion of the tournament.
A ‘time out’ needed
I'm not sure that rest and rotation has played that much of a role in the previous three IPL seasons but I can’t help wondering whether it will play more of a role this time. Adding two more teams might not sound like such a great expansion, but adding two weeks to the playing schedule is extremely significant.
Players who play every match will undoubtedly be feeling the strain by the time they get to the last fortnight and, as always, it's not the time on the field which takes its toll - it's the time it takes to get between cities, the late nights and the early mornings. A strategic 'time out' at some stage for key players might not be a bad idea. Hawkeye