Former India cricketer and commentator Sanjay Manjrekar has termed IPL 2021 as the “most frustrating IPL to watch”.
Speaking at ESPNcricinfo.com talk show on Thursday (October 14), after the second qualifier between Delhi and Kolkata, Manjrekar expressed his unhappiness at the quality of cricket being played. “I’ve followed the IPL very closely, but this has been a very unique IPL. Because we have seen some quality players, but we have also seen a large number of guys who are either ability-wise quite ordinary to begin with or players who are past their prime. So, we have seen a lot of those kinds of players in the IPL and we have seen some bizarre results and performances,” Manjrekar said.
Manjrekar’s “most frustrating” comment was probably aimed at those games where teams in comfortable positions early on took the game deep and that too in tricky manner.
The former cricketer said several players are out-of-form at present or even past their prime, but still playing. “You’ve got these very good players and then there is a huge chunk of out-of-form players, players past their prime and players with ability that you wonder they belong here. And that is the reason why we’ve seen so many bizarre ends and turn-arounds. This has been, for me, the most frustrating IPL to watch,” he added.
Manjrekar said the Qualifier 2 between Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Capitals was a case in point. Kolkata looked comfortably placed with just 11 runs needed off the last three overs with seven wickets in hand. However, the situation turned upside down and it was KKR which needed six off the last two balls as Ashwin picked up two wickets off consecutive deliveries in the last over. It was Rahul Tripathi who finally took Kolkata to final where the team plays Chennai Super Kings (CSK) on Friday in Dubai.
‘Ashwin is not a great force in any team’
Manjrekar was critical of Ravichandran Ashwin’s performance and the importance teams attach to the lanky spinner from Tamil Nadu. He said he would never have someone like Ashwin in his T20 team.
Ashwin, who plays for Delhi Capitals, ended his IPL 2021 campaign with a below par performance. He took just 7 wickets in 13 games. Having said that, it was Ashwin who gave a semblance of hope to Delhi when he took out Shakib al Hasan and Sunil Narine off successive deliveries in the last over before getting hit for a six by Rahul Tripathi to concede the match.
Little master, Sunil Gavaskar, pointed out the mistake Ashwin made in the second qualifier which cost Delhi a place in the final. “On the final ball, he just miscalculated. He thought Tripathi was going to run down the pitch, and he did not. He bowled a little bit flatter, so it will not be in the arc, in case he rushes down the pitch. But what Tripathi did was what he also anticipated, and he hit a great shot, and a great way to finish,” Gavaskar told Star Sports.
Though Ashwin has got a call back in India’s T20 team for the World Cup, Manjrekar said, “Ashwin, the T20 bowler, is not a great force in any team.”
“We have spent far too much talking about Ashwin. Ashwin, the T20 bowler, is not a great force in any team. And if you want Ashwin to change, I don’t think that’s going to happen because he’s been like this for the last five-seven years. I can understand us dwelling on Ashwin in Test matches where he’s fantastic. Him not playing a single Test match in England was a travesty. But to spend so much time on Ashwin when it comes to IPL and T20 cricket,” Manjrekar was quoted as saying on ESPNCricinfo.
“I think he has shown us in the last five years that he’s bowled exactly the same and I would never have somebody like Ashwin in my team because if I got turning pitches, I would expect people like Varun Chakravarthy or Sunil Narine or Yuzvendra Chahal and how they do their job, they get you wickets,” he added.