Experience wins over youth in IPL so far
Five matches have been worked off and the most impressive has been the high-scoring thriller between Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders at MA Chidambaram Stadium on Tuesday.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men proved better in run chase against Dinesh Karthik's young guns and the result was a five-wicket win for the Men in Yellow.
Andre Russell of KKR stole the limelight despite ending up on the losing side. He clubbed 11 sixes for his 88 (36 balls) and also found himself crowned with the Orange cap.
The shots were such that even Chennai captain Dhoni jokingly demanded more than six runs for shots that disappear from the stadium. The bowler to suffer was Dwayne Bravo, who conceded 50 runs in his 30 overs, the worst he has done in an IPL match so far.
However, the Kolkata bowlers sans Sunil Narine did nothing precious to keep the Chennai batsmen under check. If Shane Watson was on rampage during the power play overs, former Delhi Daredevils player Sam Billings (56 off 23 balls, 2 fours, 5 sixes) used his experience to get his new franchise over the line.
This match also underlined the importance of experience in any squad. If Bravo did it against Mumbai the other day, Billings was the hero for Chennai at home. More than youth power, the experienced players had played a crucial role in the four matches that were completed.
Apart from the Billings' show in Chennai's second victory and the Russell rampage, the lung opener between defending champions Mumbai Indians and CSK highlighted the fact that experience matters most even with people blow their heads when young talents are not given importance.
If Russell and Billings did it at Chepauk, Bravo showed the cricket enthusiasts and critics that he still has the power to play a match-saving innings. His 68 off 30 balls (3 fours and 7 sixes) was the best before overshadowed by Russell, though Sunil Narine and K.L. Rahul too scored half-centuries, the latter posting the fastest fifty of the IPL history.
Rahul's 14-ball fifty for Kings XI Punjab was a record and Narine's 19-ball fifty for Kolkata Knight Riders stamped his capability as a swashbuckling opener. An unbeaten 77 by Shikhar Dhawan and Gautam Gambhir's 55 were also examples that experience still rules.
Meanwhile, there were moments for the talented young too, especially bowlers. The highlight was the wrist spin of Mayank Markande, who is considered as the great weapon for Mumbai Indians by skipper Rohit Sharma. He was very impressive against CSK and had accounted for three important wickets including skipper M.S. Dhoni.
Sunrisers Hyderabad's Australian seamer Billy Stanlake, who stands tall at 6 feet 7 inches, was also impressive in his first outing.
IPL is just five matches old and things can change rapidly as these are still early days. All the teams are still looking to find their perfect eleven.
Chennai Super Kings (four points from two matches), Sunrisers Hyderabad, Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knight Riders are placed in that order on the points table.
Mumbai Indians, Delhi Daredevils, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rajasthan Royals fill the fifth to eighth slots with no points according to run rate.
The coming days will witness more intense action as the teams will look to keep themselves in contention for the knock-out place.
The author is the former Sports Editor of Times of Oman and a freelance writer.