Most of the five teams, bunched together with six wins and 12 points, would not be mathematically out till the final day of the IPL league next Monday. Run-rates are sure to come into play. The IPL frenzy will reach fever pitch. This is a script, which would have done the best of scriptwriters proud.
Two teams have caused most damage to this balance. At a time when Delhi and Bangalore seemed as good as having made the cut, southern uprisings in the form of the Deccan Chargers and the Chennai Super Kings have upset all calculations. Both refuse to die: both have unseemly heroes. And these heroes are young and local. Who would have thought an offie, a young one and a local at that, to look better than a Muttiah Muralitharan on a cricket field? But that's exactly what Ravichandran Ashwin has managed for Chennai. He was robbed of a hat-trick on Tuesday, yet the scalps of Chris Gayle, Brendon McCullum and David Hussey were priceless. That he has managed seven wickets from the last three matches at a miserly four odd runs per over is breathtaking.
Curiously, Ashwin might not have played had Chennai not opted to re-jig their foreign players, dropping Murali and bringing in Doug Bollinger and Thilan Thushara. He was the culprit earlier when caught in a run-storm of Robin Uthappa and then losing the tie against Punjab. Destiny provided him with a chance and he now has instant stardom. Ashwin’s strength is his accuracy and his own version of ‘carrom-ball’.
The Deccan Chargers too have been defying their fate in the last few games. The biggest upset of course was how they defended a low total against Royal Challengers Bangalore. And who was their man of the moment? A little-known medium-pacer Harmeet Singh. Till the penultimate over, Bangalore were in charge. With Robin Uthappa in control, a target of 18 from the last two overs was a cakewalk. And they still had four wickets in the kitty.
Adam Gilchrist had a choice — should he try an untested bowler in Rohit Sharma? Or keep his trust in Harmeet? He opted for the latter. Harmeet conceded just a single from his six deliveries and took out Uthappa and Steyn off successive balls. He had the courage to try out leg-breaks and is now cast as a hero.