If cricketing logic prevails, former India batsman Aakash Chopra expects Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals to square off in the final of the 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL) season.
“I have been vocal about these two teams right from the start. I find them very balanced, even though Delhi is now getting a fair bit of injury worries. They still have enough resources. So, (I see) Delhi-Mumbai as finalists,” Chopra said on the Tissot Presents Sportstar Extras T20 Time show.
While Chopra predicts that Royal Challengers Bangalore will be the third team to make the playoffs, the competition could be stiffer for the fourth spot.
“There will be a scamper for that place. There are quite a few teams that are there, and in the end it may not be about which is the best of the remaining teams. It might end up being the less-poor team among the remaining teams. There are quite a few holes in all the teams and they are trying to plug them,” Chopra said. “The teams with fewer holes will reach the final four and not necessarily the one with the steadiest ship.”
Chopra, who featured in 10 Tests for India, played the first two seasons of the IPL. Now a noted commentator, he believes that time is paramount in the shortest format of the game. “The best part about T20 (Twenty20) cricket is that it’s told to us that there is more time than you think there is. That’s a revelation because you think that time is moving at its own pace, and that pace does not change. An hour will always have 60 minutes. A minute will always have 60 seconds. Ideally, in a format that’s so condensed you should feel that time is flying faster because everything is happening at a faster pace maybe, but actually it does not,” Chopra said.
“Actually, it forces you to slow down, find a way to stay calm in the middle of a storm and chaos. There may be chaos everywhere, but you need a way to figure out a way to actually be at your calmest best. So, time has become very relevant and it has given a new dimension,” he added.
When there is a lot of time, there is a tendency to take things for granted, but when there is less of it, one wants to make the most of it. “That’s where T20 has actually developed into the most tactically heavy game, where every tactic has a heavy bearing on the outcome. In a 20-over innings, every over is 5 percent of that innings. The 5 percent can change things completely,” said Chopra.
Chopra was part of the Kolkata Knight Riders when the IPL began in 2008. “It was absolutely different. It was nothing that we had seen. I remember walking out on the field for an IPL game and I asked myself and the people around me that are we here to play cricket? Because that was the first time that the loudspeakers were at their loudest,” he reminisced.
“They were playing songs and it seemed as if you were part of a festival. It did not seem like a cricket game any more. It was a festival and were supposed to perform a certain role to play your part. You are only a part in the entire scheme of things. Earlier you were the only hero. But now suddenly it felt that there was lot more to the game than the players and the game itself…”
This was something that nobody had experienced. “The purist in me was telling me that it will destroy a large part of cricket. Those were misconceptions at that point in mind and a lot got quashed over a period of time… Then I thought that Test openers were finished because everyone wanted to play T20 cricket, but over the years we saw that there are people (doing both) – Mayank Agarwal, K. L. Rahul, David Warner and so many. So, we all evolved,” the former India opener stated.
When the tournament started, it was a “shock” for Chopra, but over the years he has realised that the IPL is “one of the best things to have happened to cricket.”