An unending skirmish for the orange cap, a left-field rehab programme, a deja vu opening over and more in a review of the action for the second week of the IPL.
The rehabilitation programme of the week
It doesn't matter if your pains are physical or mental - the IPL has a cure. Lasith Malinga can barely hold his bones together after all the injuries, and has opted out of Tests. Chris Gayle can barely hold himself together after being 'disrespected' by the WICB. What do these men do? They turn up at the IPL. Malinga trots in for four overs of therapeutic yorkers every other day, while Gayle seeks inner calm by flogging sixes in every direction in his first game for Bangalore. Even the Sri Lankan board now seems convinced of the IPL's special powers - they believe it offers their players better preparation for the upcoming England tour, than a three-day tour game against Middlesex.
The unending tussle of the week
Can Sachin Tendulkar and Paul Valthaty settle their differences like gentlemen, please? Clearly neither man can bear to see the orange cap adorning the other's head. The one-upmanship began last week, after Valthaty played that innings against Chennai Super Kings. Tendulkar responded by producing a century of his own. Valthaty was not pleased, and unleashed his rage on Deccan Chargers to wrench the cap back. Tendulkar simply sighed, adjusted his crotch guard, squinted into the distance and calmly reclaimed the lead with an assured innings against Pune. Valthaty would have none of it, and smashed Rajasthan to all corners of Mohali to regain pole position. Can Mr Chirayu Amin just give both of them a lifetime's supply each of orange caps, and ask them to stop being so competitive?
The maiden of the week
When Shaun Tait chugged in for the sixth over against Punjab, the score had a distinct stick-cricket like feel to it. 73 for 1, at the other-worldly run-rate of 14.6. The batsman on strike was Valthaty, who was mauling everything hurled at him. Tait produced one yorker, three short balls, one bouncer and a late swerving inducker, each one at close to 150 kph. Valthaty defended the yorker, and swung at every other ball without making contact. A maiden would not have been more out of place in the men's room.
The contrived finish of the week
A chase of 119 should always be a walk in the park. Especially if you have Sachin Tendulkar at the top, and the likes of Andrew Symonds, Rohit Sharma and Kieron Pollard in your middle order. Yet, Mumbai somehow contrived to take it to the last ball. Tendulkar and Ambati Rayudu added 74 to put their side on course, but consumed 12 overs for those runs. Sharma and Symonds, who had spent too long padded up and waiting for a chance to bat in previous games, must have been very pleased when they eventually got a hit. They were probably worried if they would ever get another bat, and chose to stay out there as long as possible. With 11 required off 15 balls, they focused on pushing singles before Rohit hit a last-ball six to end the crawl-fest.
The WAG of the week
Elizabeth Hurley added to the IPL glamour, but it wasn't a good week for a Rajasthan supporter. Her first outing was a washout, but she was there to cheer Shane Warne's side in their match against Deccan. When Siddharth Trivedi castled Adam Gilchrist in the first over, she was jumping for joy with the rest of the Rajasthan contingent. When the umpire called it a no-ball, she was visibly shocked. When Dishant Yagnik then tried to slyly run Gilchrist out as he walked, she looked on hopefully, but was left disappointed. To make matters worse, her presence coincided with Warne's worst performance of the season, as he leaked 50 runs in his four-over spell.
The slump of the week
Warne could do no wrong in the first week, getting vicious drift and turn out of his chubby wrists, but his fortunes - and his team's - plummeted in the second. First, Rajasthan ran into an inspired Gautam Gambhir and Jacques Kallis, who strolled through a chase of 160. In the return game, Rajasthan collapsed to 81, leaving Warne fuming at the press conference. That verbal lashing, however, did the opposite of lifting the team for their game against Punjab. There were no-balls that fetched wickets, free-hits that leaked boundaries, dropped catches, and atrocious bowling. Warne was at the forefront of the meltdown, living up to his prediction that the pitch was a "batsman's payday" by sending down a rash of long-hops that were feasted upon. He then lost his composure, sledging Dinesh Karthik even before he had faced a ball.
The precise prediction of the week
Mahela Jayawardene must be a stickler for high precision. During the toss in Kochi's game against Kolkata, he was asked that oft-repeated question that captains barely think about before answering. "What do you think will be a defendable score?" Jayawardene's refused to be vague, and boldly backed his team to defend anything between 130 and 140. Against a line-up that included Jacques Kallis, Yusuf Pathan, Gautam Gambhir and Eoin Morgan. As it transpired, Kochi scored 132 and won by six runs. Jayawardene was awarded the Man-of-the-Match award, despite not scoring too many. The venerable Nostradamus would have approved.
The deja vu over of the week
Zaheer Khan may be the canniest fast bowler doing the rounds in international cricket, but IPL 2011, so far, has not been kind to him. His worst moment was the opening over in the game against Kolkata. He started with a delivery on the pads that Kallis glanced for four, but the next ball was even wider and ran away for five wides. Zaheer shifted to round the wicket and sent down another leg-side wide. He then over-compensated and pushed a ball yards outside off stump. As if the wides weren't enough, he then gave Kallis gifts outside off and on the pads, both of which were dispatched to the boundary. Memories of the opening over of the 2003 World Cup final wafted around Eden Gardens.