In the end it was fitting that after two year ban the consistent Chennai Super Kings led by ‘Captain Cool’ Mahendra Singh Dhoni won its third IPL title. There is always the gut feeling that whichever team is skippered by Mahendra Singh Dhoni it has to be a title contender given Mahi’s astute captaincy skills over the years . And it did happen in IPL 2018.
The CSK triumph was masterminded by MSD . He thus effectively silenced the criticism that his an old team did not have in them to go all the way . His ageing stars took up the gauntlet thrown at them and came out on top. Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Dwayne Bravo, Harbhajan Singh , Mahendra Singh Dhoni himself led from the front with his deadly finishing ability as CSK romped home in style.
Powered by the brutal hitting by Aussie Shane Watson, who hit a majestic 57 ball sensational hundred in the final. CSK won by 8 wickets . Registering and emphatic win and making the much talked about contest with the gritty Sunrisers Hyderabad literally a one- sided contest.
Unsure of his place in the star- studded RCB line- up last year , All- Rounder Watson scripted fantastic IPL comeback . Given the confidence by MSD to open the innings, he gave CSK the required fire –power at the top with Ambati Rayudu. The duo went on to forge a match-winning combination at the top.
But IPL 2018, was not only about fairytale triumph of the men in yellow . It was a tournament where young players took the limelight and shone brightly right through. Making the cash rich league a enthralling affair and evenings a must watch.
The likes of K L Rahul, Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer, Prithivi Shaw, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Mayank Markande, Shivam Mavi, Prasidh Krishna , Afghanistan spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman his countryman superstar Rashid Khan were on the lips of every fan . They impressed all with their skills and gave the tournament the required flair.
Royal Challenges led by Indian cricket skipper superstar Virat Kohli once again failed to win. Too much reliance on Kohli and A B De Villiers and lack of good bowling at the death hurt their chances. Though they won some matches towards the end in their bid to make the play-offs it was late. Their IPL jinx unfortunately continues .
Defending Champions Mumbai Indians had a nightmarish tournament. They played like their earlier editions getting off to slow starts by losing early matches. But their slump in form perhaps stretched a bit long this time around and hence it marred their comeback bid .
The poor form of skipper Rohit Sharma from his usual high standards was a huge let down. Lack for form meant he failed to inspire . The Pandya brothers – Hardik and Krunal performed in patches and were inconsistent. The poor from of Keiron Pollard meant they did not have the fire power in the middle order. Only Suryakumar Yadav at the top gave them some thing to cheer about his aggressive intent . In all it was a disastrous campaign.
Back in the IPL 2018 after two years like CSK, Rajasthan Royals led by Ajinkya Rahane did well to reach the play-offs and going out in the Qualifier 2 to Kolkata Knight Riders. Royals too were hurt by the poor form of their overseas stars – Ben Stokes and D’Arcy Short. Stokes in particular was huge failure. After been bought for a huge price tag Rs 12. 5 cr, the English star failed to fire with both bat and ball. Royals were further hurt with seamer Jaidev Unadkat bought for a price tag Rs 11.5 cr , like Stokes struggled to take wickets and went for a plenty . The duo were biggest flops of IPL 2018 and tragically both played for the Royals.
There were some moments for the Royals to cheer though with the likes of Jos Buttler, K Gowtham, Jofra Archer coming up with fine performances . The failure of big signings like Stokes and Buttler early one put pressure on skipper Ajinkya Rahane and affected his performance . He was in a fix whether to attack or play the anchor role. Sanju Samson showed his immense talent . Inconsistency hurt the Royals badly . Coach Shane Warne will have to work at this attribute next year .
Sunrisers Hyderabad deserved to go out on a high and it was pity they failed to shine when it mattered most – The final. Otherwise, it was fantastic tournament for them. SRH showed great determination team spirit as they successfully defended many low totals in this year’s edition. Captain Kane Williamson was superb with his batting and astute captaincy. The team hardly felt the absence of their skipper David Warner ( banned from IPL this year due to ball tampering charges in South Africa) . Leg- spinner Rashid Khan was the star for them. Foxing many batsmen with his guile and what’s more he was brilliant on the field taking some brilliant catches. And when his team needed a cameo with the bat he came out guns blazing. It was fitting for their all- round show SRH finished a worthy runners- up.
Dinesh karthik lead the Kolkata Knight Riders with plenty of aplomb and determination. It was not easy for him to take over from successful skipper like Gautam Gambhir , who captained the side to two IPL titles in 2012 and 2014. KKR were bit unlucky to lose the eliminator to SRH as they allowed the match to slip away . It was a fine campaign nevertheless with plenty of positives . Andrew Russell, Sunil Narine, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, along with skipper Karthik were the star players for the KKR this time . The team’s fine showing was liked by co- owner and Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan.
Bollywood actress and co owner Preity Zinta’s Kings XI Punjab started very promisingly under Ravichandran Ashwin. But after some flashes of brilliances by Chris Gayle and some sensational batting by K L Rahul, the team simply lost its momentum. Ashwin looked clueless when under pressure and was guilty of making some strange selections in the line-up. Yuvraj Singh had a miserable IPL 2018. He failed to fire despite been given numerous chances at various batting slots . Repeated shuffling and in and out of the side hit his self- confidence hard . It was strange that a player of David Miller ‘s stature , an explosive T20 batsman was wasted in the dugout. Only consolation for them was batting of Chris Gayle, K L Rahul , where as Andrew Tye who bowled brilliantly to bag the purple cap. So did young Afghan leg- spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman.
Delhi Daredevils finished at the bottom of the table. They were let down by some poor selection of the playing eleven . Skipper Gautam Gambhir, in a rarity stepped down after poor personal form and team’s poor show. But it was late already for young skipper Shreyas Iyer to repair the damage. Iyer along with Prithvi Shaw, and the absolutely sensational Rishabh Pant, did give their best and team won some matches towards the end but that was not good enough. No reason was given why Jason Roy and Colin Munro were warming the dugout. Trent Boult was the star for the DD’s bowling impressively and swinging both ways .
Coach Ricky Ponting needs to look at the selection next year to make an impact. The flop show of Aussie Glenn Maxwell continued in IPL 2018. His IPL career per se has been a total disaster. He was bought by DD for whopping Rs 9 cr. Ponting was quick to dump Gambhir for his poor form. Gambhir in-fact even wondered why he was not picked after he stepped down. Wonder what was it that made Ponting stick with Maxwell despite his horrendous showing match after match? This only Punter can answer.
Last but not the least this IPL 2018, is incomplete without mentioning the excellent commentary team at the Dugout. It was star- studded line- up and buoy were they not brilliant from the word go ?They were weren’t they. It was really engrossing to watch the likes of – Brad Hogg, Scott Styris, Graeme Smith, Dean Jones, Brett Lee, Darren Sammy, Mark Waugh, Michael Vaughan, Kevin Pietersen, Kumar Sangakkara, Anil Kumble, Michael Clarke, Mike Hesson ( New Zealand Head Coach). They brought out the finer points of the game by precise explanations on the demo zone. It was cricket at its best.
The commentary too was refreshing in every sense. A much need relief from hearing the likes of Sunil Gavaskar, Sanjay Manjrekar and co who have become stale with nothing new to offer . So all in all IPL 2018 , the 11 edition of the league founded by Lalit Modi goes into memories done and dusted with plenty of exciting moments to cherish forever .