PS: Written before the RCB/RR match on 18th!
Perhaps the biggest drama in the world of cricket (Discounting for ODI World cup )has begun and the world is watching, enjoying, cheering,supporting and cursing teams, players and franchisees all through the country. We all know IPL is more like a movie to be enjoyed rather than being watched like you do for cricket… Its all about business and money and all, but who cares. Its cricket and if its cricket, there would be analysis and here’s mine.
Chennai Super Kings – Along with Delhi, the only team to have reached Semi-finals in both the previous versions. CSK have been an impressive side for the last 2 seasons riding. Their course during the IPL depends a lot on the way Dhoni goes, coz accept it or not, he is the only reliable batsman in their team, beside the bludgeon Hayden, who too would be short on match practice, given his retirement. The bowlers save Murali really need it to be Their day to leave any sort of mark on the game. Raina has always been a star for India and CSK in shorter format, even this time a lot depends on his young shoulders specially with him being appointed the captain over so many senior players.
Deccan Chargers – The team almost begins and ends with Gilchrist, there is an array of good players senior and junior but Gibbs has never performed to expectations in IPL, Rohit Sharma looks more like a wannabe these days than the succesor to No4 position which he looked like sometime ago. Symonds as always is a safe bet in T20 and can turn the games away in a matter of overs like he did against CSK. Besides Vaas, no one in the bowling department really gives you the confidence. Great stars given by Vaas have been almost wasted away by the other bowlers. RP isnt just good enough and Ojha comes quite lower down in Indian spin pecking although he is not at all a bad bowler.
Delhi Daredevils – The only team which has looked good in all 3 seasons. Amongst the most supported team along with MI all thanks to a wonderful line up consisting of foreign and local stars in nice balance. The biggest DD will have not only in this edition of IPL but throughout the future tournaments is that the locals of the team are the biggest stars. Perhaps the strongest line up boasting of Viru, Gambhir, Dilshan, AB along with a few quality local batsmen. The only problem the team has is, absence of a good bowler beside Nannes. The team of Mishra, Maharoof and Parnell looks almost ineffective if Nannes doesnt provide a good start.
Kolkata Knight Riders – (or is it just KR now?)The less said about this team in previous versions, the better it is for their reputation. Seemed to be going along nicely this season until the last match where they crumbled like a castle of sand, reminiscing of the KKR of yore. The problem with the team is the lack of quality players. Dada is well beyond his age, Tiwary has shown promise but its still early days for him while Brad Hodge has been an indifferent performer in IPL. Missing the big hitting opener Gayle, they arent left with much options. If batting lacks depth, then bowling save Bond (the newest recruit) is merely ordinary. Ishant rarely bowls good spells these days, Murali Karthik is more of containing bowler than a strike bowler.
King’s XI Punjab – The only team in IPL I am not interested in!
I dislike their original captain
Their owner has become ugly now (look at Shilpa shetty)
they don’t have good or exciting players at all. at best they have Yusuf Abdullah and Irfan Pathan and a Yuvraj who doesnt fire.
Mumbai Indians – Although very early days in the competition, but MI looks like the team to beat in this IPL. Sachin in the best form of his life is leading perhaps the strongest team . Although Jayasuriya is also nearing his sell by date, but his and Sachin’s opening partnership is the stuff dreams are made of and almost everyone watching IPL would like to see them click together. Even in bowling department they have the services of Malinga , Zaheer Khan and Bhajji. In Keiron Pollard (everyone’s fav in Challengers Cup) and Dwayne Brvao, they hav 2 West Indians which provide balance to the side. The biggest problem with Mumbai in the last seasons had been losing the close matches, they gave the signals of changing by holding nerve in 1st match against the assault of Yusuf Pathan. Even the youngsters Rayadu & Tiwary in the middle order have performed unexpectedly well.
Royal Challengers Bangalore – Another team with its Indian players in good form and with Kallis being in ominous form, they really do look like a strong team this year, contrary to the billing of being a test team given to them. In Steyn, they have the strike bowler any team would die for (although his performance hasnt really been upto the mark) and in Kumble, they have got the huge experience of a bowling captain who can be more than often depended upon, Kallis is more than useful (bloody bowls at 141 ks even now). Manish Pandey,the find of last IPL hasn’t done much , Virat Kohli is continuing the good form of his sojourns with Indian team. Uthappa was red hot in the last game, while Morgan ofcourse is the interesting one… Kallis ofcourse is Karizmatic! Lower middle order really hasn’t been tested yet but it has got the Wall before it, so we should rather not be too worried about that. All in all a win-win combination.
Rajasthan Royals – They were the underdogs in IPL-I who won the tournament but I hardly see any chances of them even nearing the top 4 spots this season. Reasons we all know, they miss the heroism of Watson & Tanveer of the 1st season, Shane Warne’s charm isnt working out. The energy, the charisma, the excitement isnt there anymore in his side. Coupled with the loss of Greame Smith & Dmitri Mascarenhas to injuries, I think they should occupy the bottom positions of the pool along with (who else?) KKR. The biggest problem with them is, the lack of quality players and you cant expect to win such a competition riding on Shane Warne (out of touch) and Yusuf Pathan (at best inconsistent). They have really lost the zing, they don’t even have the players now, I wonder which new/old(?) faces will we see tonight.
My pick at this time for Semifinals would be
Mumbai Indians, Delhi Daredevils, Royal Challengers Bangalore and one of CSK/DC.