IPL 11

Kuldeep’s wizardry, Rahane’s dismal run, Stokes and Buttler bid adieu: Talking points from KKR vs RR

The English duo will not be a part of the rest of the tournament as they fly back to be a part of their national team that faces Pakistan.

Rajasthan Royals’s chances of qualifying for the Indian Premier League playoffs were once again on the ropes following Kolkata Knight Riders’s comfortable win by six wickets on Tuesday.

This means that their final group match, against Royal Challengers Bangalore, may well be shootout for a place in the last four with run rate coming into play.

Rajasthan looked like an underperforming team in freefall at the top end of the season. However, Jos Buttler’s pyrotechnics and better displays from their bowlers in recent games have ensured that their chances, just like four other teams in the fray, move to the final day of the round robin games.

Kolkata Knight Riders yet again showed nerves of steel during the chase. After Kuldeep Yadav’s brilliant burst through the heart of the Rajasthan batting order, Chris Lynn and Dinesh Karthik effortlessly worked out the opposition bowlers during the chase. The Kolkata captain, in particular, did his reputation no harm by taking his team over the line yet again, and hitting the winning runs.

Here’s what stood out in the game:

Kuldeep Yadav finally comes to the party

One year can be a lot of time in the world of sport. It was Sunil Narine and Piyush Chawla who were the main strike bowlers for their side in the years gone by. A lot has changed since March last year. Kuldeep Yadav earned his first Test cap, dethroned established limited-overs spinners for India, and became the wrecker-in-chief as Virat Kohli and Co rose to the top of the One-day International latter.

The left-arm wrist-spinner was tipped to take centerstage this year following his outstanding run during India’s facile wins in white-ball cricket in South Africa. Kuldeep, though, has been overshadowed by his spin counterparts throughout. Narine continued to be Kolkata’s go-to spinner.

In the last eight games leading up to this encounter, Kuldeep had only four wickets. With his quicker deliveries, he bamboozled Buttler and Rahane. Stuart Binny was out stumped, beaten in the loop and turn. As for Stokes, the 23-year-old went around the wicket and created a caught-and-bowled opportunity that he latched on to. Stokes’s penchant to drive on the up plotted his own downfall there.

“All I have to do is make sure he is turned on [when he comes on to bowl],” skipper Karthik said. “Sometimes he slacks off, bowls a bad ball trying too much so I’m just trying to make him do as well as he can and stay consistent.”

Kuldeep couldn’t have timed his return to form any better.

Ajinkya Rahane’s dismal run

Could Rajasthan have started any better? At the end of the third over, they had raced to 45/0 and were threatening to score as many as Kolkata did against Kings XI Punjab on Saturday. Rahul Tripathi, this time sent to open, and Buttler continuing his golden touch had Kolkata with their backs to the wall.

After Tripathi’s wicket, Rajasthan’s momentum dropped considerably. Even Buttler withdrew into a shell. But yet again, Rahane’s laboured stay proved to be the start of Rajasthan’s woes.

He struggled to get going and was outsmarted by Kuldeep. This has been the story of his tournament so far. After a couple of impressive starts at the start of the season, the Rajasthan skipper’s white-ball cricket nous is once again under the scanner. More so now after losing his place in the shorter formats for India.

There are question marks over his ability to change gears and farm the strike. The middle-overs has seen the worst of him, regularly getting bogged down by spin. Shuttling between the opening slots and the middle-order, Rahane’s 241 runs so far have come at a modest strike rate of 120.74. With Buttler and Stokes on their way out, Rahane has a greater responsibility to keep the scoreboard ticking in his side’s final group game.

Stokes, Buttler returning to England

To pour scorn over Rajasthan’s fortunes, two of their international lynchpins Stokes and Buttler bid goodbye as they return to England duties. Buttler has easily been one of the stars of the season and on Tuesday, came within touching distance of completing a one-of-a-kind sixth consecutive half-century.

Stokes, meanwhile, was a pale shadow of the game-changer he was for Rising Pune Supergiant last season. The New Zealand-born all-rounder ended things well in his last game, finishing with impressive figures of 4-1-15-3, giving his team a fighting chance of defending the low total.

However, Stokes came with a burgeoning reputation and a hefty price tag. His tally of 196 runs at 16.33 and eight wickets at 37.87 clearly shows that he struggled to get going. The same can’t be said about Buttler, who earned an England Test recall on the back of smashing 354 runs at 54.80, which included two unbeaten 90+ scores.

Where do Rajasthan go from here? They have big-hitting South African Heinrich Klaasen in reserve. Big Bash star D’Arcy Short may also make his way back even though he has endured a wretched time so far. Buttler’s starts at the top of the order will be sorely missed.

Pacers Jaydev Unadkat and Dhawal Kulkarni have hardly done anything of note so a lot will depend on Rajasthan’s batsmen putting on a show against Bangalore. Over to you, Sanju Samson.

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.