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IPL is not necessarily a game of youth; These oldies are proving it

Mahendra Singh Dhoni

Bengaluru, April 17: The Twenty20 format is perceived to be a game of the youngsters. In 2007, when India were yet to focus fully on the shortest format, a lot of senior players had opted not to play in the inaugural World Cup in the format held in South Africa and Mahendra Singh Dhoni's side went on to make history.

The win gave a fresh lease of life to the shortest format of the game and next year, the Indian Premier League (IPL) kicked off, although it was more like the empire's counter strike to a rebel tournament called Indian Cricket League.

Former Australian spinner Shane Warne led Rajasthan Royals to win the inaugural edition but the perception that Twenty20 and IPL are issues that are more related to the youth persisted.

The belief was further cemented by powerful performances by young players over the years and fitness was considered to be the paramount factor to deliver in this format by the pundits.

Over the decade, however, the perception has undergone a transformation. Twenty20 now has become more a game of those who think and focus on the micro aspects, not to say about the fitness - irrespective of the age. The ongoing edition of the tournament is seeing veteran players delivering more regularly than the youngsters. In fact, while previous editions saw young faces making a mark in the IPL, this year, it's mostly the tried and the tested who are calling the shots.

Imran Tahir is doing it at 40

Imran Tahir is doing it at 40

One name that comes first in mind in this IPL is Imran Tahir. The 40-year-old South African spinner has been quite an effective one this season and is trailing just behind compatriot Kagiso Rabada in the run for the purple cap.

Chennai Super Kings' (CSK) Tahir has 13wickets from eight games at the moment at an average of 13.30 and economy rate of below six.

Harbhajan, approaching 39, has bowled well

Harbhajan, approaching 39, has bowled well

Tahir's team-mate in the CSK, Harbhajan Singh, has also done well this season.

Just months before turning 39, the Turbanator though has not taken much wickets (seven from four), but his economy rate of 5.12 in the slam-bang variety of cricket is indeed impressive.

Lasith Malinga, 35, has shown glimpses of his talent

Lasith Malinga, 35, has shown glimpses of his talent

Mumbai Indians' Lasith Malinga is another veteran who keeps returning to the IPL to impress the fans. This year, the 35-year-old pacer has played only four games and took seven wickets, but he has given enough glimpses of the talent he still possesses with the ball.

In the game against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), Malinga took four wickets for 31 to win it for his side and was adjudged the man of the match. With 161 scalps, the Sri Lankan is the highest wicket-taker in the tournament.

The evergreen Gayle, 39, loves IPL

The evergreen Gayle, 39, loves IPL

Chris Gayle is another player who can not be kept away from the IPL for long, irrespective of his age and the team he is playing for. The Caribbean giant is also approaching 40 and is doing well in this IPL.

The Kings XI Punjab opener is the third highest scorer in the tournament so far with 352 runs from eight games at a strike rate of 155 plus and missed yet another hundred in the tournament by just one run as he ended up on 99 not out against his old team RCB.

Gayle is the fifth highest scorer in the history of the IPL with 4,346 runs from 120 games.

For Dhoni, 37, IPL is a cakewalk

For Dhoni, 37, IPL is a cakewalk

CSK captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, 37, though is not in as good a form as last year (455 runs from 16 games) but he is yet effective enough to score some crucial knocks to see his side win.

Dhoni hit two fifties this season - both at crucial junctures against Rajasthan Royals - that helped his side win on both occasions and he was adjudged the man of the match for both the innings.

The wicket-keeper-batsman has scored 230 runs from eight games so far but the man stands out for his ability to influence games at key moments, even after 11 years of playing the tournament.

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Story first published: Wednesday, April 17, 2019, 14:19 [IST]
Other articles published on Apr 17, 2019
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