In exactly 49 days’ time, the Indian Premier League will return to The United Arab Emirates, six years after the country hosted no less than 20 IPL matches as a result of the general elections taking place back home in India.
To say that the complexion of the tournament has changed in these 6 years will be an understatement. I mean, it depends on how you look at it. In terms of the sides that are dominating the competition, little has changed - like the 2014 season, Mumbai Indians will head into 2020 as the defending champions and, like six years ago, Chennai Super Kings, *led by MS Dhoni*, will be their biggest challenger. But in terms of the personnel and how they’ve evolved, boy do we not live in a completely different world as compared to six years ago. Here we go back in time and look at how different the IPL - and world cricket, in general - was, the last time the tournament was staged in UAE.
It was the first eight-team IPL since 2010
Each of the three preceding seasons of the IPL had overseen the participation of at least 9 teams - the 2011 season had 10 teams fighting for the title - but Pune Warriors withdrawing from the competition post the 2013 edition made this the first eight-team IPL since 2010.
Yuvraj Singh played his first match as the most expensive signing in IPL history - and scored a 29- ball 52*
It was on April 17, 2014, at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium that Yuvraj Singh played his first-ever IPL game for RCB as the most expensive signing in the competition’s history after the club splashed 14 crore for him on the auction table. The first knock he played - a 29-ball 52 versus Delhi - was a match-winner and it was expected to be the start of something special. Well, he would bite our hands off to go back in time and revel in that particular moment, wouldn’t he?
David Warner made his debut for Sunrisers Hyderabad
After spending five seasons with Delhi Daredevils, David Warner made his debut for SRH at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi versus Rajasthan Royals. He got off to a rather underwhelming start - much in contrast to Yuvraj - and scored a 35-ball 32 batting at No.3. One of the biggest moments in IPL history, this. Who would have thought?
No one knew what to make of KL Rahul
Having scored a total of 20 runs across the five innings he played in IPL 2013, “Test Batsman” KL Rahul was given a bizarre, extended run by Sunrisers Hyderabad. The 22-year-old from Karnataka, who batted at No.4, looked like a fish out of water; it did, on the first look, feel that he would never make it as a T20 cricketer. He would go on to score 166 runs in the season at a strike-rate of 101.21 to further damage his reputation.
Andre Russell spent the entire Dubai leg warming the bench
After being purchased for just 60 lakh by Kolkata Knight Riders after a failed stint with Delhi Daredevils, Andre Russell warmed the bench for the entire Dubai leg. In fact, he would go on to play just 2 matches the entire season and would fail to impress KKR, whose primary go-to all-rounders were Jacques Kallis and Shakib Al Hasan.
Glenn Maxwell was the tournament’s MVP; Pujara and Sehwag were KXIP’s openers
After registering scores of 95, 89 and 95 in the KXIP’s first three matches of IPL 2014 - all in Dubai - Glenn Maxwell became the darling of the Indian fans and the undisputed MVP of the competition. In a way, life has come full circle for him, given he will re-debut for the Kings in a month’s time in IPL 2020. That’s not all, though. Cheteshwar Pujara had an IPL contract and he opened the batting with Virender Sehwag for Punjab, who would go on to become finalists.
KKR gave new-recruit Pat Cummins just one match all season
After purchasing promising Australian quick Pat Cummins for 1 crore in the auction, Kolkata Knight Riders played the tearaway quick in just one match the entire season. Cummins would then go on to leave the club 4 matches and two seasons later. Like Maxwell, life has come full circle for Cummins, who will re-debut for KKR when IPL 2020 kicks off. The difference, though, is that he will walk into the competition as the most expensive overseas signing in the tournament’s history.
Mumbai tried out the Bumrah-Malinga pair for the second time
After a 2013 season which saw him play just 2 matches and go at 10 runs an over, Mumbai - bizarrely - purchased a 20-year-old Jasprit Bumrah for 1.2 crore, after which they paired the unorthodox pacer with Lasith Malinga for just the second time in the club’s history. The experiment turned out to be unsatisfactory, due to which they chucked Bumrah out of the side after MI’s second game of the season versus RCB in Dubai. Bumrah did get picked in the side again, but 2014 would turn out to be a very average season for the pacer, who would end the season with just 5 wickets in 11 matches.
Rajasthan had high hopes on Sanju Samson and James Faulkner
After finishing third and losing in the play-offs the previous season, Rajasthan Royals had their hopes pinned on two youngsters: 19-year-old Sanju Samson and 24-year-old James Faulkner. While Faulkner had created a ripple in IPL 2013 by picking 28 wickets in 16 games, a free-stroking 18-year-old Samson had also showcased his talent to the whole world. Eventually, though, both of them would fail to leave a mark - Samson would average just 26 in the season, while Faulkner would pick just 11 wickets with the ball at an ER of 9.74.
A match was won by the boundary-countback rule
The clash between Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi ended in a tie after the allotted 40 overs, with both sides scoring 152 each. The Super Over that followed, too, ended in a tie, with both teams scoring 11, but Rajasthan emerged victors thanks to the boundary-countback rule. In fact, so clear were they with the rule that with 3 needed off the final ball, Steve Smith tapped the ball towards extra-cover to take two runs. And nope, there was no controversy; the KKR side did not cry victim nor did they protest.
Sunil Narine was the best bowler in the league
Having taken a total of 46 wickets across the 2012 and 2013 seasons at an economy under 5.50, Sunil Narine, heading into IPL 2014, was head and shoulders above any other bowler in the league. Two years on, batsmen still had little idea on how to tackle his mystery spin. And he did justice to his reputation and proved his worth in KKR’s first four games of the season, as he returned figures of 4/20, 1/17, 1/18 and 3/24. Eventually, he would go on to claim 21 wickets for the season and deliver KKR their second IPL title.
Kevin Pietersen was the most expensive overseas signing
Despite having missed the entirety of the 2013 season due to injury, KP entered IPL 2014 with the ‘most expensive overseas player’ tag next to his name after Delhi had purchased him for 9 crore. KP teamed up in the middle order with Dinesh Karthik, who was astonishingly purchased for a staggering sum of 12.50 crore. The season would turn out to be a disaster for all three parties - KP, DK and Delhi; while KP and DK both averaged below 30 and failed to justify their price tag, Delhi finished bottom of the league.
A 42-year-old Muralitharan was purchased by RCB for 1 crore only to be benched by an unknown Yuzvendra Chahal
Muralitharan played his final IPL season in 2014. The Lankan veteran was purchased for 1 crore by RCB in the auction, but the season didn’t play out the way he expected it to, as the legendary off-spinner was benched by an unknown entity in the form of Yuzvendra Chahal. Chahal was purchased for his base price of 10 lakh but he started the season as RCB’s no.1 spinner ahead of Murali. In fact, Murali played just one match in the entire Dubai leg. The move would turn out to be a masterstroke as Chahal would go on to pick 12 wickets in the season at an astounding economy rate of just 7.01.
Teams were vying for a place in the Champions League T20
While the primary aim of teams, at the start of the tournament, was to obviously win the competition, all franchises had one eye on finishing in the Top 4, for it meant a place in the global CLT20 (3 direct spots and a qualification spot for the fourth team). As fate had it, though, 2014 turned out to be the last ever CLT20 season in history, with Chennai Super Kings winning the competition.
Feel old yet?
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