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Duke Jeyaraj wraps Bible Truths Around Memorable IPL Games from 2008 LIFE LESSONS FROM UNFORGETTABLE

IPL-I IMAGES Duke Jeyaraj

The inaugural IPL T-20 tourney (2008) was a huge hit, you would agree. It had us at the edge of our seats. It set our pulses racing. The tournament is now over. But some images remain green in our memory. We have read, "The music in my heart I bore, long after it was heard no more" from the poem The Solitary Reaper. In the same way, some scenes from the IPL Tourney remain in our heart long after the last ball was bowled. Shall we revisit them? And may I take the liberty of making a larger point after such a re-visitation? Swapnil Asnodkar was unheralded when the IPL Tournament began. Most cricket fans hadn't heard about him. But his coach-cum-captain Shane Warne handpicked him to open the innings with Greame Smith. And this little fellow, Shane Warne remarked that he wasn't much taller than the stumps - left the opposition captains scratching their head with his inventive and explosive stroke play. Because of Swapnil, the Rajasthan Royals had a smashing start for most of their innings. Much like how Shane Warne chose the short Swapnil to open the Rajasthan Royals' innings, Jesus chose the short Zacchaeus to open the door of his house for Him. He told this man, who was both short in terms of character and physical stature, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today!" Jesus wants to come into our lives and heart, even if our external appearance is not appealing and internal character is stinking! He accepts us just the way we are and seeks to have a relationship with us - a relationship that will change us for time and eternity! Kumara Sangakarra had to sit out for most of his IPL games because of an injury. But he was in smashing form and waiting for his opportunity to bat, having fully recovered. And in the Semifinal against the Chennai Super Kings, he nicked a ball

to wicket-keeper. Even the keeper Parthiv Patel did not seem to hear it. But Sangakkara walked back to the pavilion voluntarily even before the umpire raised his finger. What a gesture! That's similar to what Jesus did. He did not have to die. He was God. And God by definition has neither beginning nor end. So God cannot die. But God can choose to die if He decides to do that. And that is what Jesus did. The wages of sin was death and Jesus committed no sin. Yet He voluntarily chose to die for each one of us, sinners, on the Cross, more than two thousand years ago.

The way Yousuf Pathan hit sixes was indeed special. Most of his sixes landed among the crowds. Some of them even landed on the stadium roofs! On the other hand, one of the most common forms of dismissal in this tournament was that the batsmen were caught at the boundary line trying to hit a six. Their shots fell just short of the boundary line on many occasions. That reminds me of something. The sins we commit against God on a day-to-day basis make us fall short of His glory or His expectations of us. These sins separate us from God, the Bible teaches us. That is why we feel that we are alienated and lost in the heart. We had sixes galore in the IPL. But one images stood out. It was the way M. S. Dhoni hit those steeping sixes. He hit the ball the hardest. The leather of the ball threatened to come off. I believe the Arnold Schwarznegger-like-Roman Soldiers hit Jesus on His way to the cross with the same force and same fierceness. They hit Him so badly that His back became like a plowed field, the Bible records. He took the punishment for our sins on His sinless body.

Harbajhan Singh slapped Sreesanth after a game in the heat of the moment. He was shown the door by the IPL administrators. He lost millions of dollars in exchange for his inability to control his anger. Jesus controlled His anger even though He was slapped by the humans He himself created en route to the cross. When He claimed that He would return to this planet as a judge, with angels, He was spat upon and slapped. But He took it in. He did it all for you. You should

have been slapped. God can slap you for all that you have done against Him. But guess what He did? He took that slapping punishment upon Himself. He allowed puny humans to slap Him when the God in human flesh, Jesus, let those slaps land on Him. He loved you so much!

Shaun Marsh was unheard of when he came to open the innings for the Punjab Kings XI in the IPL Championships. Some keen cricket fans were aware that his father Geoff Marsh used to open for the Australian Cricket Team some time back. Some even suggested that he was in the team because the coach of Punjab Kings XI, Tom Moody, was from Western Australia - the same place he hailed from. But he silenced all his critics by scoring the most number of runs in the IPL Tourney to win the Orange Cap and that too with a rapid pace. The Shaun Marsh story brings back an important truth into my mind: Your father may be a fine Christian. He may even be a preacher. But that will not ensure that you will have a place in heaven. God has children. But He has no grandchildren. His Word says, "Yet to all who received Him (Jesus), to those who believed in His name He gave them the right to be the children of God". Yes, you must personally believe in Jesus to be saved. To be born again. Your parents' faith cannot save you just like the good performance of his Shaun Marsh's father would not be enough to earn or keep Shauns place in any Cricket Team - be it the Punjab Kings XI or even the Western Australian team.

If Sanath Jeyasuriya had not made a mess of a simple run out chance in the last ball of their game against the Rajasthan Royals, the Mumbai Indians could have possibly reached the semifinals. Repenting from sin and trusting in Jesus as your Savior seems to be a simple thing to do to get peace in the soul and a place in heaven. But if you do not do this simple thing, it will prove costly to you. It could land you in eternal hell - the place God prepared for the devil and his angels, the Bible warns.

Yuvraj Singh flying with a ball into the stumps to affect a riveting run-out to seal and steal a win for his side. That was how the second game between the Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab ended. You need to do what Yuvi did. Fly to the stump. Which stump? The stump of Jesse. That is one of the many names in the Bible for Jesus. That name had a prophetic message hidden in it. Among the billions of families on planet Earth, Jesus, it was accurately predicted, would be born into the family of Jessie, the father of the famous King David. He did. He was God who could fulfill prophecy at will because He controlled all of history. Vijay Mallya, the owner of the Bangalore Royal Challengers turned sour when his team suffered repeated losses. He complained that he did not have a team that he wanted in the first place. In other words, he was suggesting that some in his team were misfits for the T20 format. Jesus would not do a Vijay Mallya. He accepts you, just the way you are. He wants you in His team. While Vijay paid in millions of dollars to get the likes of Jacques Kallis in his team, Jesus paid with His precious sinless blood, to have you in His team. And when you don't measure up, Jesus will not criticize you, but will carry you. He will give you the power to become like Him, day by day, if only you will cooperate with Him! Yousuf Pathan, was dropped twice in the final, on his way to his match-winning fifty. When Suresh Raina dropped him (he was only on 13), it could be said that he dropped the IPL Cup! Later it was the same Suresh Raina who ran him out with a superb direct hit when he attempted to steal a run. But that dismissal came far too late. Yousuf had already made 56 runs and the Rajasthan Royals were sniffing victory by then. When you reject the offer that Jesus gives you of salvation, peace, joy, purpose in life, you are dropping something far more costly than what Suresh Raina dropped in the IPL Cup Final! You are perhaps saying that you would come to Christ when you are old. You want to enjoy the pleasures of the planet now. It may be too late to do that just how it became too late for Suresh Raina to have run out Yousuf Pathan. The reason? You could die at any moment, and, after death, no one would get an opportunity to trust in Jesus and be saved, according to the Bible (Heb 9:27).

Andrew Symonds hit a sub-50-ball 100 in the Deccan Chargers' game against the Rajasthan Royals. And he was thrown the ball when it was the time for the last over of the game. Shane Warne slammed him all over the park for 30 runs to sneak in a famous win for the Royals. Symonds bowled poorly. He started the game well with his slam-bang batting. And he ended the game in a whimper with some stupid bowling. It is not enough to start our relationship with Jesus well. We must keep going so that we will finish well. "He who endures till the end will be saved!" said He! When the IPL Tourney began, cricket fans were looking to the young players to make the maximum impact, because T-20 form of cricket ideally suits those with fresh legs and strong limbs. They wondered if players who were relatively old and slow like Shane Warne, Sanath Jeyasuriya, Shuan Pollock would make any impact in this championship. But these veterans proved them wrong. Shane Warne bowled brilliantly as usual, battled nerveless when his team needed him to do that the most, and his captaincy of the Rajasthan Royals was simply out of the world. Sanath Jeyasuriya carted the bowlers all over the park like he had always done, hitting 31 sixes in the tourney - the highest. Shaun Pollock bowled with nagging accuracy to cramp the batsmen and curtailed the run-rate. These players proved that even though they were old, they were not cold. Can that be said about your relationship with Jesus? There was a time when you accepted Jesus first; you were absolutely crazy for Him. You did not think twice if you had to tell others about Him. You beat temptations consistently. You spent many hours in prayer. You swam deep into the Bible, meditating and fishing out fresh truths. You were that hot when it came to your relationship with Jesus. But is that the scene now? Jesus' accusation against you is the same as His accusation against the Laodicean Church: "You're not cold; you're not hot - far better to be either cold or hot! You're stale. You're stagnant. You make me want to vomit!" (Rev 3:15-16, Peterson Version).

These scenes from the IPL tourney remain green in my mind. They reminded me of these very crucial life lessons. Having seen these lessons would you set out to implement them in your life?


A Poem on the last over of the Kolkota Knight Riders and Deccan Chargers in IPL II on 16 May, 2009

The score-board said, twenty one required off the last over, The Game between the Deccan Chargers and the Knight Riders was far from over, With only three men in the ring, Mashrafe's first ball - was called a "No!" Rohit Sharma smashed it for a four - to hear the Chargers' cheering, "Go Rohit! Go!"

16 runs off 6 balls, was the new equation, In Hyderabadi homes like mine, the air was charged with so much tension! However, sleepy-eyed, silken-touch Rohit Sharma stayed cool as a cucumber, He suddenly exploded and thrashed the 3rd ball - a juicy full toss - for a huge sixer!

It was then the $600,000 worth Mortaza bowled a nervous wide, At that point, he (and his captain McCullum) wished they had some place to hide, With 7 off 3 balls, now required, Rohit hit the ball down the ground and set out for a run, Venugopal's high velocity sprint converted that one into two - boy, for him, it was fun!

5 needed off 2 balls - that was the challenging task now, When Rohit stylishly pierced the infield to clobber a four, the Chargers' fans roared, "Wow!" 1 off 1 ball - that is what the Chargers had to now get, This was surely a goose-bumps-giving, game, you won't, in a hurry, forget,

When Rohit Sharma sent the last ball over the square leg! It was celebration time for the Chargers - everyone was shaking a leg! While it's true, it was Rohit who, for the Chargers, saved the Day! It is also true that it is Jesus, who is the Life, the Truth and the Way!

Why bring Jesus into the final over of Twenty20 game, you may well ask, Here is why - While the Twenty20 excitement can fade behind our life mask, The excitement, the peace, the life purpose, that Jesus alone offers, does last, And I could not just wait to tell you this great news - so I made this poem up fast! & Jesus, The Truth Duke Jeyaraj on a blog that became famous during IPL-II (2009).
The Kolkota Knight Riders (KKR) they were easily the most glamorous team, most visible team in the IPL, But their performance was so very dismal, they, their Owner Shah Rukh, was reportedly willing to sell, They lost to Mumbai Indians by 92 runs, the Chargers thrashed them with will 41-balls to spare well, well, well,

When they were within sniffing distance of an elusive victory over the Royals, Yousuf Pathans Super Over heroics, their doom did spell, The man who replaced Ganguly as captain, McCullum made 31 runs in his first 6 innings, and the whole of Kolkota couldnt but yell, The terrible tactics of Coach John Buchanan like not giving a game to Mashrafe Mortaza, whom KKR bought shelling out $600,000, with over half the tourney over didnt ring, in the cricket fans upstairs, a single, solitary, bell! KKR did not have a single young, firing, Indian team regular batsman (like a Gambhir, a Dhoni, a Raina, a Yousuf Pathan) in the line-up of 7 Indians in their playing 11 that was one clear reason why, I believe, they stayed put in their dark tunnel, "I think he wants to send his laptop in to bat the next time, given the amount of time he spends with it. Maybe if he spent half that time with us players, we may win a match or two." that stinging sentence about Coach Buchanan by an anonymous blogger who professed to play for the Kolkata Knight sounded like his death-knell. Whats more that stinging sentence reminded me of the one the Bible tells me about, the one who left heavens glory, to spend time with me, not just to coach me but to carry me in the game called life isnt this news itself, a bombshell?! That cutting remark made me recall the One, who did not just punch laptop keys to workout my betterment, but instead got punched on his face, till blood oozed all over, 2000 years ago, so that I would come out from my sin-shell! Yes, it moved me to salute even the One, who picked me up when I fell, who all my fears did quell, who offered me, purpose, meaning and true joy in life, to forever smell! It is my prayer, dear reader, that this little IPL poem that Ive penned, will fuel in your heart, a lavish love and longing for Jesus, that will always swell!

Dhoni in Dharamshala Vs Gods Son in Golgotha

Duke Jeyaraj on the last over between Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Kings XI Punjab in Dharmshala, 18 April 2010, easily the most exciting game in IPL-111

They were just an over away from possible elimination despite having quality players to flaunt, 16 runs in the last over thats what Chennai Super Kings needed stay in the hunt,

Irfan Pathan ran into bowl with determination, Dhonis efforts to get those runs, to blunt, The onlookers couldnt move be it a person young or old, or be it an uncle or an aunt, After Dhoni crashed the first ball for four 12 required off 5 balls was the fresh count, Even though the next ball he could only miscue for just a two, Chennais semifinal chances none could discount, The next two balls Dhoni smacked over the fence Irfan Pathans ego to bruise and affront! One six landed 104 metres away from Dhoni's blade, having borne it's awesome power's full brunt! The super cool Skipper then celebrated with a rare, never-seen-before self-mumble and upper cut stunt! It was as if he knew even at that point that Chennai would go on to win the third edition of IPL, upfront! The Chennai players swooped on him in a flash to salute the efforts of the man who never says, "I can't!" Dhoni scores 28 out of 29 runs required in the last 2 overs, thats what the papers reported in big font! What Dhoni achieved atop that stadium perched in the 5000-feet high Dharamshalas mount, Reminded me of Jesus who willingly received cuts on His body atop Mount Golgotha, to open up a fount, A fount filled with sinless, precious blood that would take away the sins of all, who into it, would dismount!

4 runs to win. 1 ball remaining. Priyanka Chopra Watching.

Duke Jeyaraj's poem on the most exciting IPL game in the 70-game league phase on 22 May 2011 between Kolkota Knight Riders n Mumbai Indians at Eden Gardens, Kolkota, written on 23 May 2011

21 to win off the last over of the final league game of IPL-IV, this is what the scoreboard said The Mumbai Indians' chances in that game almost seemed buried and dead Laxmipathy Balaji was to bowl it - a bowler known to bowl using his head The first four balls, to the boundary ropes, unbelievably and furiously sped The ball kissed the edges of James Franklin's blade and Balaji's heart bled The fifth ball was bowled better and after Franklin stole a single, Rayudu got the strike instead He thrashed the last ball for a match-winning six making maximum use of the juicy full tos he was fed And thousands of hearts in Eden Gardens, including Shah Rukh's and Piggy Chop's, were heavy as lead Now KKR must clash in a 'quarterfinal' with the MI in their own backyard a contest they'd naturally dread To win the IPL-IV they've got to win three games in a row, instead of just two, it needs to be, now, said Yes, the last over of a tight T20 Game can be indeed spine-tingling But I know someone who puts spine in your backbone and is far more exciting It's Jesus - even as an embryo living in a virgin womb, he had someone (John the Baptist in also in embroyo form), in joy, jumping! He went to the Cross to voluntarily die for your sin - the pain not withstanding If you repented from sin and believed on Him - You will have life everlasting!