Volkswagen Power Performance (VWPP) Week 5 Review
This week's blog is going to concentrate on one day simply because of one extraordinary innings and one unbelievable finish. We have had a few days like those at the IPL and that is what has made such a memorable tournament.
First with the poor Deccan Chargers. Few teams, if any, would dread playing at home as much as they do and yet, I believe that has little to do with either the atmosphere or the nature of the surface. They have just not been good enough in recent times and against the Delhi Daredevils would have thought they had done well to get 187 even though they had lost with bigger scores in the past. Shikhar Dhawan's 84 from 49 would, on most days, have got him the #VWPP. Indeed, even Cameron White's 65 from 40 might have done it.
But David Warner, in place of the prolific Kevin Pietersen, played one of the innings of the tournament. It didn't help the Chargers that they had no experienced overseas bowler to turn to and Warner, who is one of the pathbreakers in T20 cricket played havoc with them. He made 109 from 54 balls and took his team home with 20 balls left, which means they got those in just a hundred balls. He annexed the #VWPP easily and completed another terrible day for the Chargers.
The second game that day was the more difficult to judge. The Royals strugged to 126 at their home ground. It wasn't such a bad track but after Ben Hilfenhaus took 2-8 in 4 overs, and made him an early candidate for the #VWPP they never recovered. You would have thought CSK would get it with overs to spare but sometimes you bat according to the target rather than just normally and CSK plodded and plodded and even lost wickets to be marooned at 84 for 6 in 16.2 overs. When young Aniruddha Srikkanth came out to join Albie Morkel, 43 were needed from 22.
What followed made the earlier part of the match seem a bizarre oddity. Morkel and Srikkanth hit those 43 in a mere 11 balls. Yes, in a mere 11. And everyone was left scratching their heads. So how does one judge a power performance? It could no longer be Hilfenhaus even if he was a better candidate for the man of the match. So I had to choose between Morkel who changed the match and Aniruddha who finished it. Eventually I went with one shot. A yorker length ball from Shaun Tait bowled at 147 that was hit over mid-wicket for six.
But it was debatable and I would love to know what you think of it.
- Harsha Bhogle
Volkswagen Power Performance (VWPP) Week 4 Review
As the IPL sails past the halfway mark of what has been a most gripping tournament, the matches got closer, results more unpredictable and therefore judging the Volkswagen Power Performance became just that bit more difficult. And, to be completely honest, on at least one occasion a late surge caught me unawares. Let me explain.
I was at Mohali on the 25th of April for the King's Xl vs Mumbai Indians game and it is a long way from the commentary box down to the ground where I had to go to do the presentation. So with two overs to go, and 32 runs to get, I messaged my choice in. David Hussey for his 68 from 40 balls, I said, was my #VWPP. Then, amazingly, 27 runs were taken from Piyush Chawla's last over, the 19th of the innings and Ambati Rayudu finished it off in the next with a ball left. Rayudu had 34 from 17 balls and surely he had to be the #VWPP. But I had no way of communicating this and so, some uncomfortable questions on twitter the next day!
I guess the good thing, if there can be one, is that it meant that people were following the Power Performance and were unhappy enough to question it. So, apologies but it was one of those things. Having said that Hussey played a scorcher and on most days, no one would have disputed it!
Here's another interesting one where emotion couldn't come in the way. Delhi Daredevils, in the eyes of some too top heavy, had one of those days and only managed 152 on a good surface. Rajasthan Royals, the underdogs that everyone love, were well on course until they fell short due to a magnificent 19th over from Morne Morkel that allowed only 3 runs and produced a wicket. Overall though, he had 1-26 from 4 overs and the tear jerking end meant a temptation to give it to Ajinkya Rahane who produced a fluent, stylish innings of 84 from 63. A man of the match adjudicator would have had a tough time but we were looking at a power performance and so it had to go to Virender Sehwag who, as usual, made batting look like a simple demo with 63 from 39. Can you produce a power performance with a smile and a chat? Sehwag showed you can!
Cameron White's return to form made the #VWPP an easy affair when the Deccan Chargers finally won a game at the IPL! After a dramatic decline in fortunes when he not only lost his place in the Australian ODI team but also his captaincy of the T20 side, White stumbled along in the Big Bash in Australia scarcely scoring a run. But Sangakkara trusted him enough to send him up to number 3 after 39 had been scored in the first 4 overs. It allowed him a platform and after a while he was back to those booming shots played in trademark style, with the body almost arched backwards. His 78 from 46 balls took the Chargers to an unassailable 177 and a first win.
Those were the pick from the last week and now, as we enter the second half of the tournament, I hope you have begun thinking of which performance will win, for the person who produces it, the fine new IPL edition of the Vento. Keep reading!
- Harsha Bhogle
Volkswagen Power Performance (VWPP) Week 3 Review
It's been fun looking at the Volkswagen Power Performers and you have to try hard sometimes to separate them from the more obvious player of the match. Sometimes, they will be identical but occasionally you can look beyond and that has happened on a few occasions. It is also tempting to look at the big hitters because that seems to define power but one of the performances I was delighted to pick was that of Shahbaz Nadeem of the Delhi Daredevils.
The IPL allows players like him to have their moments in the sun and against the Mumbai Indians he only took 2 wickets but in doing so he set up the game for DD. MI had opened with two aggressive South Africans in Richard Levi and Davy Jacobs and in his first two overs he had both! He finished with 2-16 (4 overs) which won't go down as the best figures ever but he turned the match. It was tempting that day to look at Umesh Yadav who bowled behind the new ball and picked up Kieron Pollard and Dinesh Karthik in taking 2-11 from 4 overs. There could be a very strong argument for making him the #VWPP but my instinct said Nadeem.
There were two other games where there was a tough choice to make and both involved the Rajasthan Royals. Against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, Ajinkya Rahane scored a memorable century (103 from 60 balls) full of refined strokes. But building on that Owais Shah took the game away with some awesome batting and when you make 60 from 26 balls, it is tough to look elsewhere.
JP Duminy, a slight man himself, and known to place the ball rather than hammer it hit 58 from 26 balls for the Deccan Chargers against Rajasthan Royals on a fantastic batting surface at Jaipur. 77 came in the last 5 overs as a result and it was some really clean batting. But when all seemed lost the veteran Brad Hodge came out smoking and hammered 48 off 21 including a spell where he took on Dale Steyn. "It's the job of the Australian to play the fast bowler" he told me afterwards and that was priceless. It had to be him over Duminy.
And then there is Chris Gayle. When he is in there will be few matches he doesn't dominate and he got in against the Pune Warriors. He started slowly, something we are increasingly seeing, and dare I say more dangerously for the opponents, and then launched into Rahul Sharma hitting five consecutive sixes. You don't see that very often and certainly not in a big run chase.
Who knows, that might just be the power performance of the tournament unless Kevin Pietersen comes up with another innings of the kind he played against the unfortunate Deccan Chargers. Their score of 157 was neither here nor there but they sniffed a chance with some early wickets. Then Pietersen showed his class, not just in getting the runs but in finishing the innings. There were 9 sixes and even though the boundary at the Kotla isn't the biggest, those would have cleared almost any boundary! 103 from 64 balls was, with Rahane's century against the Chargers, the stand out innings of the week.
- Harsha Bhogle
Volkswagen Power Performance (VWPP) Week 2 Review
The giants came storming back in the race to be the Volkswagen Power Performer and in a week we had Kieron Pollard, Albie Morkel, Shakibul Hasan, Kevein Pietersen and, most dramatically, Dale Steyn in it.
It's been great fun watching the match from a different perspective; not for looking at the man of the match but for the power performer and on more than one occasion there has been a difference.
It came through most dramatically in the CSK vs RCB game at the Chidambaram Stadium on the 12th. There were many outstanding performances on a surface that, you might say, wasn't especially kind to bowlers. Faf du Plessis made 71 from 46, big Chris Gayle got 68 from 35 and Muralitharan for 3-21 in 4 overs; apart from the wickets, he had an economy rate of 4.25 in a match where the run rate from both sides was over 10! But this is about a power performance and I went with Albie Morkel because he only batted 6 balls before getting out and turned the match with 28.
Mumbai Indians vs Deccan Chargers in Visakhapatnam had some top players and one of those, Rohit Sharma, finished the match in style with two sixes in the last over, the second of those off the last ball. On any other day his would have been both a man of the match and a power performance. But earlier in the innings we had seen one of the most dramatic displays of fast bowling in T20 cricket from one of the greatest: Dale Steyn. His over to Richard Levi will long be remembered but it was the speeds he generated, routinely going over 150 kmph, that was amazing to watch. For his aggression, and effectiveness, he was the VWPP that day. It was, eventually, a pretty easy decision.
As indeed were the decisions in favour of Kieron Pollard in the MI vs RR game in Mumbai and Kevin Pietersen in the DD vs CSK game in Delhi. At last Pollard got enough time to play himself in—his first 15 balls produced 19—before exploding to what was, strangely, his first half century in the IPL. The next 18 went for 45 runs and even a breathtaking, and sweet, counter attack from Owais Shah (76 from 42) wasn't enough for the Royals. I had to work out the strike rates (194 vs 185) but again, by the definition of a power performance it had to Pollard.
Pietersen's 43 from 26 balls came at a time when a win was imminent but he stamped his presence on the match in the manner he loves. He is a big man and can intimidate at the crease and seems to be enjoying it here.
I was particularly happy to see Shakibul Hasan in the thick of it all for KKR. He is in tremendous form, is the best batsman in his national team and in the eyes of some, the best bowler too—a very rare combination indeed. But at KKR he was being wasted. Against the Royals at the Eden Gardens though he bowled the 7th over and came in to bat a crucial phase. With 3 for 17 from 4 overs and a 10 ball 16, he had to be the #VWPP.
Now another week beckons, more power performances hopefully and from a selfish point of view, I hope it becomes tricky to name a performance!
- Harsha Bhogle
Volkswagen Power Performance (VWPP) Week 1 Review
The first week at the IPL, well the first three days really, brought out some contrasting contenders for the Volkswagen Power Performance. There were some that were easy to pick and some that were a bit more tricky because we traditionally associate a power performance with some lusty hitting or some dramatic fast bowling.
In Chennai we got our first look at the big South African Richard Levi. It was clear straightaway that he was a typical hard wicket batsman; powerfully built with a let's-see-what-you've-got approach towards bowlers. If he gets going boundaries might seem too short and it seemed that way at the Chidambaram Stadium. He made a potentially tricky chase (why are smaller chases seemingly trickier than larger ones?) seem like a stroll in the park with a belligerent half century. He was an easy pick as the Volkswagen Power Performer.
It rained before and after the game in Kolkata but luckily enough time to play in one of the great venues of world cricket. And a very well constructed KKR team came apart in a rain curtailed game to two power packed performances. It was tricky to choose between Irfan Pathan who made 42 from 20 balls and hit some big ones; none more dramatic than the pull into the stands of Marchand de Lange when the game was still open. It seemed a no-brainer to give it to him except that a fast bowler had turned the game around earlier.
Morne Morkel, back in form after an indifferent time, knocked over three quality batsmen in Kallis, Tiwary and Gambhir and neither of those was out to a stupid shot. The ball that got Tiwary was a huge endorsement for quality bowling even on a good track in a twenty over game. I pondered over it for a long time and eventually went with the bowler in a batsman's game.
Even trickier was the low scoring game on a strange surface in Mumbai—hopefully the track will get a bit better as the IPL goes along. Ashoke Dinda picked up two wickets in his first over, two good young Indian batsmen and then came back to take two more. Shouldn't it have been him? Or should it have been Steve Smith who eked out 39 runs, worth their weight in gold in a low scoring game and which eventually won him the man of the match.
But for a Power Performance I was looking for more and I found it in the feisty Murali Kartik; a couple of big shots at the end that were critical and a smart slip catch but more that, for two key wickets that turned the game around. First the early dismissal of Richard Levi to a beautiful, classical spin bowler's wicket and then the scalp of the man who was looking like he would win it for the Mumbai Indians. Dinesh Karthik is a fine player of spin, was looking in good touch and the ball that got him, turning viciously to beat the front foot stroke, was excellent. Not all of you would have given the VWPP to Kartik but I thought he deserved it.
Finally, is there power in silk? If you define power as producing a dominating performance, the route need not matter as Ajinkya Rahane showed in his stellar innings on a fantastic batting surface at Jaipur. He was an easy VWPP to pick!
Now to another week at the IPL and many more performances.
- Harsha Bhogle