The sun was at its scorching best over the lush green field. Fifteen young men stood on the ground, covered with sweat and silent in tension. The crowd waited in anticipation as to whether the batsman on the crease would hit a six off the last ball and lift his team to win the biggest sporting event of the Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur. As everybody’s heart skipped a beat, the bowler ran in for the last and final ball of the VGSoM Premier League 8.0.
The story of VPL 8.0 (conducted by Team Olympia, the Sports Committee of VGSoM) began on 11th February 2019, where suited-up managers bid for their most preferred choices. The annual tournament, one which boasts of a cricketing extravaganza and a box loaded with wholesome entertainment, is one of the most awaited events of the year for every VGSoMite and lived up to its reputation this time around as well.
VPL 8.0 had four teams, Black Panthers, Red Dragons, White Tigers and Blue Brats with 21 players in each squad. The high-voltage auction, which was broadcasted live over Facebook, involved a pool of 84 players divided into brackets of $ 7 million, $ 5 million, $ 3 million and $ 1 million based on the competencies and experience of the players in the beautiful game. Each team of managers had a fixed budget of $ 120 million to build their squads for this season.
The first player to be auctioned was Somya Prakash Mohanty, an all-rounder, who crossed last year’s highest bid of $ 30.25 million and was bought by the Red Dragons for $ 31.25 million. One could easily sense the healthy competitiveness amongst the teams during the auction. With an intent to go all guns blazing while facing the imminent challenge, the teams were all set to witness the rage and excitement of cricket and spread the goodness of teamwork and sportsmanship amongst all the stakeholders.
The league started on 14th March 2019 at the TATA Steel Sports Complex of IIT Kharagpur with an absolute blitzkrieg from Kuladeep Tummala, the skipper of the Blue Brats, who scored a whopping 116 runs off 61 balls in the very first innings of the tournament. Featuring 14 fours and 4 sixes, his extraordinary knock set the stage for an uphill task for the Red Dragons (led by Somya Prakash Mohanty), who eventually lost the opening game by 35 runs. The next two matches turned out to be low scoring thrillers as the rain gods changed the playing conditions completely. Both the White Tigers (led by Shambhav Gupta) and the Red Dragons won a match each, displaying a disciplined mix of bowling and fielding skills to restrict their opponents.
The fourth match saw the Blue Brats taking on the White Tigers, both of whom were eyeing a berth in the finals. However, the Blue Brats held on to their nerves as they wrecked the Whites’ ship with their formidable bowling and an extremely patient chase, grabbing their ticket to the finals in the process. The next match turned out to be a semi-final of sorts, where the Red Dragons choked the White Tigers in tough conditions and sealed their berth for the final as well. Although the last game of the league stage was supposed to be a dead rubber, the excitement did not end as the Black Panthers (led by Dinesh Sawarkar in place of regular captain Dilip Moyya) finally managed to taste victory by beating the table-toppers.
A Final To Remember
The stage was set for the business end of the tournament, where the deserving finalists locked horns with varying momentums on a bright sunny afternoon. While the Blue Brats had faced a minor setback in their last league match, the Red Dragons arrived at the scene with two back-to-back wins in their kitty. After winning the toss and deciding to bat first, the Blue Brats played the first innings with a lot of temperament. However, the Red Dragons stole the show with their bowling, where Pratik Kumar provided early breakthroughs (including the wicket of the big fish Kuladeep) and Chandan Kumar bagged 5 wickets to restrict the Blue Brats to just 90 runs in their quota of 15 overs.
Chasing what seemed to be a not-so-formidable target, the Red Dragons started with fireworks straightaway, as Lawrance Lovedeep hit two boundaries in the first over itself. However, the table-toppers knew exactly how to get back into the game. Sukhpreet Singh of the Blue Brats castled Lawrance, and even though the Reds’ batsmen played some handsome shots, they could not build strong partnerships, thanks to the incredible bowling and fielding of the Blue Brats. As the game approached the last over, the tension became evident in both camps. Utkarsh Roy of the Blue Brats, having earned the reputation of being the best bowler of the tournament till then, had to bowl the final over, where the Reds were 14 runs away from victory. As unnerving as it could get, the match went down to the wire as Pratik Kumar of the Red Dragons was required to hit a six off the last ball. But even though he swung his bat hard, the last ball saw just a single and the Blue Brats emerged as the champions of VPL 8.0!
Honouring The Big Guns
While this season of the VGSoM Premier League witnessed numerous performances that stole hearts, the ones that certainly outshined others were, very deservingly, given the highest honours. Utkarsh Roy of the Blue Brats won the Purple Cap for bagging 7 wickets despite having missed out on one match. There were no surprises while deciding the Orange Cap winner, as Kuladeep Tummala, apart from leading the Blue Brats to victory, scored a total of 161 runs in 4 matches (including a century) and received the award. Moreover, his being present in the list of the top 10 bowlers (having bagged 4 wickets) made him stand out as the Man of the Tournament as well!
Upholding The Spirit Of Cricket
When it comes to cricket, there is no room for lethargy. As expected, this was proved right in VPL 8.0, where every person involved savoured probably the most awaited sporting experience of the year. While the players sweated it out through the matches and received much appreciation, the managers of the teams supported their players and kept the entertainment quotient high during the Managers’ Cup as well. Moreover, everybody made sure that the tournament progressed without compromising with the spirit of the game, as the players stayed friends despite the intense strategies and fierce on-field battles.
Kudos To The Organizers
Team Olympia, the Sports Committee of VGSoM, deserve a standing ovation for their efforts behind the success of VPL 8.0. Right from the auction, the hard-working members of the committee have shone in their pursuit to provide a seamless and entertaining experience to one and all. Be it in preparing the field, scoring, providing live match updates, officiating the matches or making the post-match presentations and summaries, the team did not leave any stone unturned. It would also be unfair if the ever-ready members of VGSoM Flash were not lauded for their efforts in covering the tournament under the scorching sun and capturing beautiful memories in the process.
The VGSoM Premier League is a key event in the calendar every year as the love for the gentleman’s game brings the entire B-School together and provides a break from the usual schedule. Apart from the fun and action, it helps in creating new bonds between the seniors and the juniors too. A spectacular blend of zeal, passion, discipline and sportsmanship, this tournament was certainly a feast for the cricket lovers of VGSoM, who have already set their eyes upon a bigger and better VPL 9.0.