Stormy Eden Gardens ready for IPL playoffs

Norwister FC on Saturday alarmed officials of the Bengal Cricket Association (CAB). Fortunately, the damage was limited to the front window of the Eden Gardens press box resulting in a gust of 90 kilometers per hour. The Quick Repair mission fixed the damage. And the presence of the mind of Sujan Mukherjee kept the field and play the match safely.

Amin Aden acted beforehand. “When the dark clouds gathered, we blanketed and off the field and placed large pieces of stone on the cover, heavy enough to withstand the storm. It did the trick,” Mukherjee told the Indian Express.

A day before the qualifiers 1 in the Indian Premier League between the Gujarat Titans and the Rajasthan Royals, both the pitch and field looked top-notch. Mukherjee spoke about how the deck will help everyone: “Putters will be able to play ahead, fast bowlers will get to buy in advance and spinners will start playing later. There will be a good bounce.” The coordinator stuck to his template for preparing the sports grounds. Over the past seven years under his leadership, the roof of Eden has rarely proven to be a disappointment.

At about 5.15pm on Monday, the Royals’ team bus boarded in front of Eden. The Titans coach came a few minutes later. Fans in front of the stadium, oblivious to the identity of the team members, began chanting “RCB, RCB.” A Kohli ditty follows. At that time, the Royal Challengers Bangalore flight was landing in Kolkata. According to Reaction, Wednesday’s Eliminator will be the box office hit, with Virat Kohli stardust. But make no mistake, it will be a full game in Qualifier 1 on Tuesday as well, with authorities allowing 100 percent of participation. The IPL needed this change of scenery. Monotony was creeping towards the end of the group stage. Familiarity began, to some extent, to provoke disdain.

Both teams boast quality fast bowlers. The Titans have Muhammad al-Shami, Zari Joseph, and Luke Ferguson. The floor of Eden should motivate them to bend their backs. Royals counter is Trent Boult, Prasidh Krishna and Kuldeep Sen (if playing). As for batting, the Giants would like to see consistency from Shubman Gill, while despite three consecutive single-digit scores, Jos Buttler remains the Royals’ mascot with 629 assists from 14 games. In terms of spin, the royals have a slight advantage with the Chahal-Ashwin combination versus Rashid Khan. Wriddhiman Saha playing on the house patch, as his relationship with CAB strains, offers an interesting sub-plot.

But there’s a bigger picture – Hardik Pandya and Ravichandran Ashwin, the two biggest takeaways for the Titans and Royals respectively in the IPL.

Hardik came to this IPL device that got caught in the fitness quagmire. He lost his place in the Indian team, as chief specialist Chetan Sharma sent the message – pot or bankruptcy. Hardick threw 24.3 overs in the run-up to the playoffs. He played the new ball and worked the older ball, and aside from four wickets, he thrived at a very decent economic rate, 7.79. The Titans captain also scored 413 points. His selection in India’s T20I squad for the domestic series against South Africa was a formality.

Ashwin regrets the fact that whiteball cricket at the international level may have overtaken him. At the same time, no one has used it in the way that the Royals management has used this season. Kumar Sangakkara (the Royals head coach) and company have improved Ashwin’s batting potential, using him as a float in the batting order. Confidence breeds confidence and the 35-year-old has blossomed into his new role. His forty game win not out of 23 balls against the Chennai Super Kings just three days ago was a testament to his ability as a hitter with the shortest form and how innovative and running he is, when he has the license to express himself.

In his post-match presentation, Ashwin talked about clear communication. “The communication was clear before the season about what I needed to work on. The management ensured that my role was well defined.”

About his hitting, he said, “I understand the game very well and am a creator. I don’t have enough strength. Credit should go to Rajamani (Prabhu, strength coach) and Zubin Bharucha (cricket chief). They understand my nature and that I don’t reciprocate at all. A match. They encouraged me and I trained a lot. I want to play my A game for all the perks I play for. It’s a sign of respect.”

Ashwin scored an impressive 183 runs and took 11 wickets (economy 7.14) in 14 games. Yuzvendra Chahal tops the wicket-taking charts with 26 scalps.

Back at Eden Stadium, Mukherjee doesn’t want to change the bar for Eliminator between RCB and Lucknow Super Giants. “One pitch should be good enough for 80 increments. In a first-class game, 90 increments are played a day.”

The coordinator commended his staff who spend sleepless nights battling the weather as thunderstorms are expected in the next few days. “They deserve a heavy 10 days of sleep after the IPL matches,” Mukherjee said on a lighter note.

Leave a Comment