CSK vs KKR emotional roller coaster: New captains, Dhoni’s lessons and Bopping it like Bravo

Two new IPL captains Shreyas Iyer (leading KKR for the first time) and Ravindra Jadeja (replacing someone named MSD) did seem to feel the pressure at the toss. Iyer seemed more composed — he has after all a season of captaincy for Delhi Capitals under his belt — but he also forgot the three new caps given this season. “Myself, Billings, and … I forget the name!”. Shortly he remembered and yelled out,
“Rahane”. Well, it was Rahane who he replaced in the Test team recently.

Jadeja seemed more under the pump. He averted the gaze of the host Danny Morrison, who as ever was hyping up everything in his now-familiar accent and tone, preferring to look mainly at the side towards the pitch as he answered.

There was another comeback man of sorts. Ravi Shastri, commentator turned coach, turned to commentary again from this IPL. Were there nerves? You must be kidding! As ever, he boomed.

Not surprising as he once told about his first-ever day in the commentary box many decades ago. When did you feel at home Ravi? “The first day itself. I felt like I belonged here… Yeah there were butterflies. And you were doing it with the big boys, yaar. There was (Tony) Greig there. There was Chappell, Stackpole there. Guys who had done television. Barry (Richards) was there. Thommo (Jeff Thomson) there. Henry (Blofeld) was there in Sri Lanka. The triangular series. You knew. Immediately when you went there, you knew you can hold your own.”

Learning on the job

For Chennai Super Kings, change of captaincy has happened, but as the franchise’s chief executive Kasi Viswanathan told this paper, the change of guard would be gradual. MS Dhoni has handed over the reins to Ravindra Jadeja, but he would mother-hen the latter to grow into the job.

The lead-up to the IPL-15 opener offered a glimpse. As the two teams did their warm-ups, CSK head coach Stephen Fleming got into a deep on-field conversation with Dhoni. The newly-appointed skipper wasn’t in the frame, happily doing the knocking in one of the practice nets. Jadeja will learn on the job under Dhoni’s tutelage, the master passing on experience, and tricks, to his pupil. Through the dressing room glass shield at Wankhede, TV cameras smartly captured one of those moments; between his food morsels, the ex-captain talking to his successor and Jadeja listening intently. CSK have a clear transition plan, by the time Dhoni hangs up his playing boots, the chosen one would be his own man.

Called it!

As soon as Ambati Rayudu was run out, after a mix up with his partner Ravindra Jadeja, the former player Subramaniam Badrinath piped up on Star Sports’ Tamil commentary.

“You won’t believe it, but I just had a chat with Suresh Raina at the back of the commentary box. About these two, and how a run out is a possibility. One is super quick (Jadeja) and the other slow (Rayudu). So this wasn’t a surprise.

Kolkata Knight Riders celebrate the wicket of Ambati Rayudu of the Chennai Super Kings. (Photo by Saikat Das / Sportzpics for IPL)

Jadeja had pushed the ball towards mid-on and started to run as he usually does. Rayudu, who watched the ball for a short while, then responded by running down the track but by then Jadeja had changed his mind and shouted to get back. Too late. Rayudu couldn’t get into the frame when the bowler removed the bails.

Not sure if this was a result of Rayudu’s slowness but certainly Raina and Badrinath’s prediction of a run-out had eventuated.

Bop it like Bravo

Dwayne Bravo has now gone past Lasith Malinga to create an IPL record for the highest wickets (170). As a bowler, he has one of the great dipping slower ones, a canny outside-off slider, excellent off-pace cutters but it’s his wicket-celebrations that keep populating the gifs every IPL season. He has introduced yet another new celebration — Bravo One special. For each of his three wickets, he would put up his index finger, like an umpire’s dismissal signal, and sway it one way to the other. He couldn’t prevent KKR from cantering to a win, but he did everything possible to try to defend the low total of 131 that CSK put up. At the end of the game, he was involved in a nice long, seemingly happy chat with KKR’s Andre Russell and Sunil Narine.

Action Jackson

Sheldon Jackson, the man who has recently been part of YouTube viral wars across India and Pakistan, quietly made his presence known on the field with a lovely leg-side stumping to remove Robin Uthappa. Varun Chakravarthy’s delivery had just about skidded down leg and even before Uthappa could turn back, the LED lights were blinking.

Last May when a Twitter user posted his name in a list of players who have scored 750+ runs in Ranji Trophy maximum times (Vinod Kambli, Abhinav Mukund, Ajay Sharma, and Jackson – all four times), Jackson quote-tweeted it with: “The only domestic player in this list who hasn’t played for India. Covid go away so that i can do it for the 5th time, who knows maybe then” (he finished off with an Indian flag image).

It remains to be seen if that ship has sailed but a bumper IPL season can at least make him a known name in Indian households.

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