It was a riveting round robin stage of the Indian Premier League, perhaps the closest the league has seen in 11 seasons. Going into the final round of matches this past weekend, only one team, perennial laggards Delhi Daredevils, didn’t have a dog in the fight. On the very last day of league action, Sunday, three teams were still in the race to take the fourth spot. Mumbai Indians had the momentum; Rajasthan Royals had done their bit and were now waiting for a couple of favourable outcomes; and Kings XI Punjab needed to win big in the event of a Mumbai loss. It was too close to call. But there was at least one accurate prediction of how the day would pan out. It was, in fact, so (ahem!) on the money it could qualify as a prophecy. Reading that future required a bit of Star gazing, though not quite astrology. Before the penultimate game, Star Sports played a 43-second skit, Silly Point, to preview the game. It showed the Mumbai team making a human pyramid as it tries to reach a Dahi Handi labelled as playoffs. After failing miserably initially, the players regroup and make a concerted effort. Finally, captain Rohit Sharma climbs on the shoulders of his teammates only to realise the pot is just out of his outstretched hand. At this point, the camera pans and shows another human pyramid rising up adjacent to Mumbai Indians’. As Ajinkya Rahane rises above the last set of shoulders, he smiles upon discovering that the Handi is well within his reach. As it turned out, Mumbai Indians crashed out in the last over of their chase, thus handing Rajasthan Royals a lifeline. Then, in the final game, Kings XI Punjab imploded to hand the Handi to Rahane’s team. As Jamal would’ve said in Slumdog Millionaire: It’s written.
MUST READ | Mumbai Indians pay for close losses
Wonder why Rohit is in a baba night suit
It’s definitely not because they were “knocked out”. This is a team-bonding punishment for Mumbai Indians. At the start of the IPL, the team management had decided that if the players don’t reach the team bus on time, or reached an official event late or forgot to bring along the team jersey, they have to wear a dress — dotted with emojis of various players, almost resembling a baba night suit — during travel until some other player messes up. First up, Suryakumar Yadav, who forgot his official team attire in Hyderabad, and later had to wade through the airport dressed up in this emoji dress. Even captain Rohit Sharma was seen wearing it as he arrived late for an event.
You might act like SRK but he isn’t impressed
A win against Rajasthan Royals took KKR closer to the playoffs. The gloom of a big loss against Mumbai Indians was lifted. So the players decided to let their hair down Shah Rukh Khan-style. Sunil Narine needed three takes to complete, “don’t underestimate the power of a common man”, in his Trinidadian accent. Piyush Chawla delivered his dialogue in one take but didn’t look exactly at ease. Shubman Gill and Shivam Mavi tried to walk like the Main Hoon Na leading man. Watching the video snippet, the KKR co-owner seemed far from impressed. “As much as I love my team, here’s the deal. I leave the cricket to u & u leave the acting to me!! Ha ha,” Shah Rukh tweeted.
Floor manager key player
Superstitions have been a charming facet of cricket. But it’s generally has had to do with players and teams. But in the IPL, expect the owners’ superstitions to make an impact. One team owner ended up laying the blame for their winning streak coming to an end on the “floor manager” of the official broadcasters. He had been on duty for four straight games at their home venue, and in the owners’ opinion turned the fortunes of their team around, as they ended up winning all four. But he was shifted to another venue when it was time for their fifth game at home, which they lost. It’s learnt that they tried getting in touch with the broadcasters to ensure that their “lucky charm” was working all their home games at that point on.
Taut body? Swap jerseys in public like footballers
It’s something Dwayne Leverock (remember that Bermuda’s legend?) or Arjuna Ranatunga or Romesh Powar might never do. Take the jerseys off in public, and swap them with an opponent. When you have six packs, guess you can. KL Rahul, the tattooed six-packer, and Hardik Pandya, another swag-lover, have started the trend to strip off their jerseys, and swap them at the end of matches. It’s something that triggered praise in the Twitter world. Don’t forget, 50 per cent of India’s population is less than 25 (600 million people, no other country has more young people), and if the populace isn’t fit, they at least like people who are and aren’t afraid to flaunt it.
Why Zinta’s happy that Mumbai got knocked out
A Twitter brouhaha broke out about Preity Zinta. Again. A week after she had to clarify that she didn’t have a tiff over strategy with Virender Sehwag, she found herself in more trouble. Cameraperson — no, not the one who caught Cameron Bancroft shoving sandpaper in his pants – panned to her, when @jogtweets put out a tweet which went viral, 4.2k retweets and 6.7k likes when last seen, which went: Did #Pretiyzinta just say “I am very happy that Mumbai is not going to the finals..Really happy” and @whatev_bru replied “I guess she said…’I’m just very happy that Mumbai is knocked out…very happy’.” The video now jump-cuts at the vital juncture but Zinta did confirm she had said it, with a different intention though. Asked on Twitter whether she had really said “ I am very happy MI is out”, Zinta replied: “Yes, cuz that meant we have a chance at the playoffs! Don’t know why people are saying Finals! That’s so silly & I don’t mind Mumbai or another IPL team except when they are playing or completing against us! It’s natural in sport specially during the knockout stages…” She had preceded that with another post: “Relax! Only if Mumbai was “knocked out” Punjab would have had a chance of getting to the Play offs but RR was happier we were knocked out by CSK cuz they got to go to the playoffs! When you leave it till the end one has to not just see your wins but other teams losses as well.” With another tweet, Zinta nailed the problem with her team. Asked whether it was the bowlers who derailed Punjab’s campaign, Zinta responded: “We need to work on everything overall except our wonderful fans & support system.”