Mumbai Indians – From my previous post to the current one, they have remained the team to beat. From the first match in which they revieved some royal treatment at the hands of Yusuf to the last one where they gave a drubbing to the royals from Bangalore. Sachin is continuing the dream run and there seem no real chances in near future of him stopping or slowing down. The rest of the batting probably their biggest concern is inexperienced and there’s quite a chance of them faltering if Sachin falls. Although the coming to form of Duminy & Pollard is a good sign for MI.
Yet the main strength of mumbai after Sachin Tendulkar has been their bowling, the only team with more than 1 bowler in Purple cap race, they have 3 of them (Harbhajan, Malinga & Zaheer). Bhajji has been really good in the tournament with his containment job and also keeps picking up the wickets. Malinga the slinger has probably been the most difficult bowler to get away and Zaheer Khan has more than often been a handful at the top with his swing and at the death with those toe-crushers. Infact I will rmr the last MI-KKR match for the perfect toe-crusher Zaheer bowled to Chris Gayle.
Royal Challengers Bangalore – Along with the MI, the only team which has shown some semblance of consistency, almost from the start of the tournament, when they were competing for the top spot with MI, they have looked like a sure shot Semis contender. The batting even with the old war horses Kallis (who has been a revealation this IPL), Dravis had enough fire power. Uthappa is probably the most destructive batsman of IPL, Manish Pandey though hasnt done much in this IPL but we all know what KP n Taylor can do to any team on their day while Kohli has been playing stable knocks whenever need.
IPL has been a story of the captains, if Sachin has blown every team apart similar to the sand storm of ’98, Shane Warne has probably been the only reason why RR were in contention for Semis, Dada was always there to give his team a lift with a catch or a run out here and there and sometimes even batting well, similarly Kumble has perhaps been the one who wrote RCB’s success story last season and continuing it even further, he has that Jumbo influence on the game whenever he has the ball in hand or setting fields. Ofcourse it doesnt harm if you have got the best economy rate of the tournament. Steyn has left no stone unturned to cement his position as the best pacer in the world at the moment, the best thing about Steyn is, he doesnt need the short ball or the slower one (or other inventions of T20 bowling). His express pace and accuracy are more than often enough to strangulate batsmen. Praveen Kumar has also been more than handy many times while Vinay Kumar has been uprooting stumps with good frequency even earning him a national call.
Deccan Chargers – Perhaps the most volatile of the 4 semi-finalists, have been having a dream run, requiring to win the last 5 games of the League stage to qualify for semis, they did it nice and easy with the help of ever dependant Rohit Sharma, ably supported by T Suman and Symonds at times. And yet the batting remains a big worry as for most parts, they are hugely dependent on Rohit to take them through, with other batsmen contributing very occassionally. Failure of Gilchrist & Gibbs have been the biggest challenge for them this season but knowing that how Gilly is a big match player, I wouldnt be really surprised if CSK are blown away by the storm that Gilly might create. While the batting of DC though unstable, has quality, the bowling doesnt really look that flattering.
Pragyan Ojha has been the success story of this IPL, claiming the Purple cap from under the noses of many worthy competitors and hasnt let his hold of the cap go after he got it once. Chaminda Vaas has inspired confidence whenever he has played taking wickets up and down but he hasnt been a regular member of the squad but given the performance in the last match of league stage, it would be a brave man keeping him out of the squad. The bowling after this isnt much of a story, Symonds is there with his partnership breaking and containment job, but he would really not leave much mark if two well set batsmen are playing. Harmeet Singh is mostly an unknown identity who has bowled a few good overs in previous matches at crucial junctures. Wouldnt really bill them as the strongest contender but once you have reached the Semis, there’s just 2 matches left to win and it could be anyone’s day.
Chennai Super Kings – The best thing about the team is, most of their victories have been courtesy different players, people have taken turns to shine in a match and the worst thing about the team is, nobody except Raina (who has been prolific in IPL yet again) and to an extent R. Ashwin (the tweaker) has been really consistent. There is nobody you can really count on in the team. Dhoni bludgeoned the KXIP yest, Hayden smote Delhi away with the Mongoose a few weeks back (after which he has done almost nothing), Murali Vijay was blistering hot against RR but hasnt done anything significant after that match.
Bowling is one department of the game which has been Dhoni’s worry since the start of the tournament and by the end of the competition he is still sturggling in this regard, with Doug Bollinger providing some sort of hope to the captain Dhoni. Bollinger and Ashwin give the team 8 good overs but its the remaining 12 overs which have been the thorn in flesh of Dhoni’s men many a times in the tournament. Perhaps the biggest strength of Dhoni’s men which has taken them to a record 3 semis is the relatively young team which has come together quite nicely under the leadership of Dhoni, a sign of the Good Vibrations going on in the team were visible in the jubiliations after the match at Dharamshala.
I personally would have loved to see a Mumbai VS Bangalore final,the most consistent teams of the tournament instead it would be the final berth that these two would be fighting for, while the other semi will be played between DC & CSK. So Hoping for the best team to win, in the final stages of perhaps the biggest drama India has seen where Dalai Lama and Cheerleaders go hand in hand along with Politics, Bollywood, some corruption a few DLF maximums, MRF Zepps, Citi Moments of success and where between all this drama, you get to see some of the most exciting and interesting cricket being played by players of highest quality. And this is where I sign out, wishing Sachin and his men all the best, after two Aussies lifting the trophy its His turn to lift the trohy this time round.