Thank God It’s South Africa!

Swinging as only he can -- Chris Gayle of Kolkata Knight Riders

Swinging as only he can -- Chris Gayle of Kolkata Knight Riders

Having despairingly watched cricket die a slow death on pancake-flat Indian — make that subcontinental — pitches, and the odds increasingly stacked against hapless bowlers, it is inexpressibly refreshing to see the latter get some of their own back in the Twenty20 format, of all things.

The primary reason has to be the location shift to South Africa, where the pitches will thankfully provide real cricket rather than ‘baseball on Valium’, as Robin Williams once famously put it. And contrary to popular belief, people don’t come to cricket grounds only to watch fours and sixes rain down. The savagery may seem exciting initially, but the bloodlust dies down after a while and the parade of boundaries merely seems boring.

And so, as this edition of the IPL increasingly shows signs of being a bowlers’ tournament, we are faced with the mouth-watering prospects of Anil Kumble and Shane Warne luring batsmen down the pitches to their doom, of a Kamran Khan or Ishant Sharma making batsmen hop around (no harm in hoping), and a Chris Gayle keeping them so completely quiet that it takes them five overs to hit boundary. What more can we ask for in this age of three-hour cricket?

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