Very similar to IPL growing in popularity around the world, the Cúram Premier League had also grown in stature since edition I (in the world called Cúram!). It had enough people dreaming of rebuilding their neglected cricketing careers and hoping for a better finish this time around (which only meant winning the cup!). CPL only got more sophisticated this time around. For starters, there was the much hyped Player Bidding (à la the IPL). What’s more there were “Platinum”, “Gold” and “Silver” cards associated with players who were much sought after – an idea that would have made even Lalit Modi go green with envy!
I couldn’t quite figure what card they would have given me as I was a late entrant – but then I was happy just to be playing. Much like IPL 2, CPL 2 also found a different venue, the scenic GKVK campus. This year’s CPL was played in a true league format – 5 teams locking horns with each other for a place in the grand final. The team names, I must say, hadn’t gotten any savvy though! - Gladiators, Bulls, Hawks, Titans and Cúram United.
The Gladiators (lead by Mr. Strategy Mohandoss) were off to a flier against the Bulls lead by Pradeep (who wasn’t all that bullish about his team’s chances) and they seemed to be the team to beat all the way long. In fact they went on to win all of their league games and comfortably took the first final berth. Cúram United, lead by last year’s winning captain Gopichand, found life too tough right from the start. Gopi seemed to be missing lot of his trump cards who had defected to other teams! By the time the league got over, United fell divided and were out with no wins to their names!
Titans (lead by the adorable Lav Pandey) didn’t really have a great tournament. They could muster just one win of the 4 games they played. The Hawks (who seemed to only have managers in their team!), lead by Shubhankar, seemed to defy all expectations and looked set to nick the final spot. Except, they were secretly hoping that the Bulls, the other contenders, would lose their footing somewhere or the other. With Gladiators seemingly unbeatable, it was down to the Bulls and the Hawks to fight it out. There were some tense games played (with some heated exchanges too!) and fortunately (for me!) the Bulls were able to seal a place in the final.
This year’s final was an absolute thriller, one befitting the final. For players (like me) who were involved in the game, it was sometimes too much to handle. The Bulls batted first and could only muster a modest 52 in 10 overs. Their fancied batsmen (including yours truly!) didn’t quite tick against the strong bowling attack
lead by Suresh and Mohandoss. The Gladiators in response made heavy weather of the target and seemed to be heading towards doomsday, except they had Suresh standing like a wall.
Gladiators needed just 2 runs with 2 wickets in hand. Minutes later it was 2 off 3 balls with just a wicket in hand, thanks to some fearsome bowling. The bulls almost nicked it when they came close to getting that final wicket (alas!). Fortunately for the Gladiators, Suresh was able to steal the last run and take them to victory off only the penultimate ball. A nail-biting finish indeed!
There were some real fun moments on the field all through the tournament – The most memorable of them were: Kiran showing (and realizing for himself) that he was a better footballer than a fielder – He gave away more runs with his feet than anybody else could afford! Fintan contributing to a cheeky run out showing just
how good his throwing arm was!
Ram Prasad M.