It’s clear that the South Africans have embraced the IPL movement with as much pomp and celebration as the Indians had last year. The loud music, the theme songs of various teams and the carnival atmosphere offset the intense battle in the middle beautifully.
The enjoyment of sharing the dressing room with players from other teams is great fun, and Yuvraj Singh is the life and soul of the dressing room. Yuvraj, Brett (Lee), and the youngsters ensure that we remain buoyant even when things don’t go our way, as was the case on Friday against the Royal Challengers.
The other unique syndrome is when you come across players from your national side in the opposition. The T20 World Cup is within a few days of the IPL, so we are keeping track of them through this IPL.
Tillakaratne Dilshan has continued the fine form he has shown during the last six months. Sanath Jayasuriya has also played some valuable knocks. However, the big positive for us has been the return of Lasith Malinga. He had a wretched time with a knee injury last year, but has come back reinvigorated.
The lack of opportunity for Ajantha Mendis has been surprising. Considering the spin-friendly conditions, I’d thought he could have played more.
He was hit around in the Super Over, but using him was always going to be a gambit. He was also expensive against the Mumbai Indians but then everyone went to the cleaners with Jayasuriya and Sachin Tendulkar running riot.
I will risk becoming unpopular with fans in India by saying that the conditions in SA have contributed to making the IPL an even more compelling spectacle than last year's event in India.
I expect the games to get even closer as the battle for the final four hots up.