With four days to go until the coronation of the next champions of the IPL, we are at the business end of this year’s proceedings in cricket’s ultimate extravaganza. On the last Wednesday of the season, we are all set to unveil for one last time our winners of Wrong ’Uns, our IPL weekly awards that promises to honour the brilliant and the bizarre and most things in between.
In our season finale, we debut two new awards while reinstating a virtual mainstay that had gone missing last week. Additionally, our White Cap has found its destination for this year, returning to Mumbai, but not to Kieron Pollard or Ishan Kishan. Without further ado, here is presenting the ninth and final edition of Wrong ’Uns.
The Socrates Award for Best On-Field Dialogue
Gautam Gambhir with some valuable words of encouragement for Rinku SinghBCCI
A disconsolate Rinku Singh burst into tears after his valiant knock of 40 off just 15 balls could not take the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) over the line in a must-win game against the Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) on Wednesday. The agony in the KKR camp was in stark contrast to the euphoria in the LSG dugout, with coach Gautam Gambhir leading the celebrations. However, having spotted Rinku breaking down, Gambhir showed class in coming over and speaking to him about the stellar job the 24-year-old had done to take KKR so close. Words of appreciation from the former KKR skipper instantly put a brake on Rinku’s tears as he listened intently to everything Gambhir had to say, not unlike a student receiving life-changing advice from their teacher.
Most Startling Statistic of the Week
One more season of unfulfilled potential for PBKSBCCI
Even after a convincing win in their last outing of the year against the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), the Punjab Kings (PBKS) could only manage to finish sixth on the points table, which, incredibly, is the fourth time they have done so in succession. No other IPL team has ended their campaign in the same position so many years on the trot. Punjab’s love affair with the sixth spot started in 2019, and despite changing captains, coaches and strategies along the way, there has been no change in their standing come the climax of the IPL.
The Yudhisthir Award for Unfiltered Honesty
For the last few seasons, one question has overshadowed all others every time the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) have approached the last game of their season: will Mahendra Singh Dhoni be back? Like in 2021, Dhoni took the onus to answer the question himself, speaking his mind to Ian Bishop at the toss before CSK’s match against the Rajasthan Royals (RR). Confirming his participation in IPL 2023, the four-time IPL champion said: “It will be unfair to not play in Chennai and say thank you.” While Dhoni’s promise to be back must have sent the Yellow Army into delirium, it did not provide clarity on whether next season will be the 40-year-old’s last in the IPL.
Most Consequential Regret
Ricky Ponting backed Rishabh Pant as captaincy material following the latter’s decisive error against MIBCCI
The Delhi Capitals (DC) had their fate in their own hands against the Mumbai Indians (MI) on Saturday, when they suffered their biggest judgement lapse in the season. With MI needing to win to keep DC out and the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the playoffs, Tim David feathered the first ball he faced to Rishabh Pant behind the stumps. With a tricky chase of 160 tilted in DC’s favour, captain Pant appealed but did not review David’s potential dismissal once the on-field call went against DC. As it turned out, David had indeed nicked the ball, and went on to smash 34 runs off his next 10 deliveries, effectively ending DC’s playoff hopes. Speaking at the post-match presentation, Pant defended his decision to not opt for the DRS citing a muted reaction from the fielders inside the ring. How he wishes he had not listened to his teammates for once!
Evin Lewis with one of the catches of the season to break KKR heartsBCCI
Some catches seem so utterly impossible that their completion can only be explained by the inscrutable logic of destiny. With three runs needed off two balls for KKR to keep their hopes alive in the IPL, LSG’s Evin Lewis was destined to take the catch he did. Having mistimed his shot off Marcus Stoinis in the direction of deep point, Rinku Singh was scampering for a couple in the hope of tying the game with one ball to play. Lewis, who was running in from the boundary, looked for all the world to be chasing a lost cause, with the ball approaching the ground faster than Lewis was approaching it. And that is when it happened — a fraction of a second, during which Lewis, pausing time and space, lunged forward with all his might and stretched out his left hand, as if preordained to grasp the ball like manna from heaven. Rinku was crushed and so were KKR, for whom it was just not meant to be.
The Twelfth Man Award for the Most Engaging Crowd
The MI fans joined in on the “RCB” chants against DC at the WankhedeBCCI
For years, fans at the Wankhede Stadium have distinguished themselves with their partisan behaviour, expressed in the form of an uncompromising solidarity with MI. On Saturday, however, the MI fans became fraternal as they combined with the RCB supporters in the stands to root for Kohli and Co, even as DC were trying their best to dislodge RCB from the top four. In the last half hour of the match between MI and DC, the Mumbai crowd started chanting “RCB”, much to the bewilderment of the viewers and the commentators alike. Eventually, the MI batters heeded to the cries for “RCB” by capping off their campaign with a win and clearing RCB’s route to the playoffs.
The Tewatia Award for the Most Explosive Finish
Liam Livingstone with another scintillating knock to round off the season for PBKSBCCI
He may not have been able to get PBKS into the knockouts, but he has more than lived up to his billing as one of the top finishers in the competition. Bowing out for 2022 with an unbeaten 49 against SRH, Liam Livingstone put the cherry on his personal cake for this season’s IPL in his characteristic no-holds-barred fashion. Having entered the fray at 71 for 3 with 158 to get, Livingstone wasted no time in getting his eye in, going hammer and tongs from the outset. Featuring five sixes and two fours, Livingstone’s assault on SRH wrapped up the game with almost five overs to spare, further enhancing his reputation as the lynchpin of the PBKS batting line-up.
Back with a Bang
Cometh the hour, cometh King Kohli. Having bagged this award through wondering and whimpering earlier this season, the RCB icon won it in more familiar fashion this time around, courtesy a match-defining 73 against the Gujarat Titans (GT) on Thursday. In a virtual knockout game for RCB, Kohli had a narrow margin of error to begin with and rode his luck in the opening stages of the chase alongside Faf du Plessis. But after a couple of streaky shots had found the fence, Kohli hit his stride, batting like his usual domineering self for the first time this season. With minimal risk and maximum efficiency, the ex-RCB captain took the game out of GT’s reach, class and confidence oozing out of his bat once more. Even though he could not stay till the end, Kohli’s innings was pivotal in keeping RCB alive in the IPL, and was underscored by yet another man-of-the-match trophy.
The White Cap
With Kane Williamson back in New Zealand on paternity leave, the White Cap found a new resting place this week, where it is poised to remain indefinitely. That place, or rather, that head, belongs to Rohit Sharma, who looked in no mood to trouble the scorers for MI against DC. Lazy and lacklustre during his stay at the crease, Rohit could only manage two runs off 13 balls, before chipping a catch to Shardul Thakur at mid-on. Rohit’s reluctance to get going against DC must have given Kohli fans quite the scare on Saturday, but as it turned out, MI had more than enough firepower to wrap up the chase and book RCB’s place in the playoffs. For Rohit, who has endured a miserable campaign as both batter and skipper, the White Cap is the fitting symbol of a painful season that needs to be wiped clean before he and his team begin the quest for a sixth championship next year.