Bottom two on the table are having a rough time. Rajasthan’s position is understandable – they are missing their Pak stars and Shane Watson. Punjab’s story is different – the talent is there. But the team spirit seams missing. They are looking like BRC from season 1. One wonders if it has anything to do with Sangakkara and his ways.
One was expecting an Say-wah-g-ian innings from the dasher. What we got to see was a gem from Gauti. That was one cool-headed knock from the Delhi captain. Good to see there’s a good successor to Dhoni. (Allright, one match isn’t enough to judge, but seriously, this has to be a good sign).
In case you missed the match, fear not. For our friend SB has it all here.
Way to go, Gauti.
Today is the day. The Monster returns to India and we can hear the crass jingle. Controversies apart, despite my ambivalence towards T20 and the IPL itself, I must admit that I am a bit excited.
Teams I will be supporting this year :
Kolkata Knight Riders – KKR – Wishing Dada and SRK some luck
Delhi Daredevils – DD – A team with Sehwag in it deserves to win
Bangalore Royal Challengers – RCB – Gotta like Kumble, Dravid, et all
Chennai Super Kings – CSK – Flat track bullies
Mumbai Indians – MI – Really, if they don’t make it to the top 4 this time, there is no excuse
Kings XI Punjab – (what’s their acronym really?) – Snore…
Batsmen I will be watching for:
Virender Sehwag – Viru, show us the Say-Wah!g
Sourav Ganguly – a true Dada fan will not lose an opportunity to scream DA-DA!
Mathew Hayden – Mongoose bat or not, he will be one to watch out for
Adam Gilchrist – Too many blistering innings to not watch this man
Rahul Dravid – A from-the-heart Dravid fan will always be rooting for RD!
Others – Greame Smith, Virat Kohli, Shane Warne, Sangakkara, Jayasuriya, Tendulkar, JP Duminy.. this list will grow!
I must admit that I’m the one who vowed not to watch the IPL 2, who wore my thoughts on my sleeve about how this season can be nothing short of very boring. I’m now very guilty for I’ve watched more IPL matches this year than the last.
Credit must be given to the pitch masters of South Africa. It isn’t for nothing that the T20 World Cup in 2007 was such a hit. It isn’t just about the Bollywood babes, catchy tunes, and scantily clad cheerleaders. If the cricket’s boring (and the tickets expensive or spectators’ conditions poor), the tournament becomes doomed. By getting the pitches right and the ticket prices right (if the commentators and other tournament-folk are to be believed), cricket South Africa have ensured the success of the tournament.
Perhaps this even balance so produced by quality pitches have ensure that insipid sides like Rajasthan and weekend ones like Punjab don’t seem that great this year. Suddenly the Asnodkars and the Mascarenases don’t seem that valuable. You’ve got to get the cricket right here, which is why the good old folk – Dravid, Tendulkar, Boucher, Kumble – and those among the new who are worth their salt – Badrinath, Duminy, RP Singh – and the like are making merry.
The teams and their fortunes
Royal Challengers Bangalore and Deccan Chargers
The shift away from India has benefited two teams that found themselves at the bottom of the table last year: Bangalore and Deccan.
We all knew Deccan had it, it just wasn’t clicking for them. That RP Singh has had a lot of success in South Africa adds a lot to their attack.
Bangalore’s is the miracle recovery. I think it has more to do with team spirit and Kumble’s captaincy than Ray Jennings’ coaching. Besides they are the side with almost an all South African combination with Indian stars. They lucked out that the tournament moved to their real home. Bangalore doesn’t belong in India! 🙂 On yesturday’s thumping victory over Mumbai that involved chasing a score of over 140, while Uthappa’s innings might be a flash in the pan, Kallis I think has indeed found himself in the T20 version. I cannot end a paragraph about the BRCs without mentioning Dravid. He started the tournament with a sparkling 66 of 40-odd. That he is back in the squad will add the much needed backbone to the Bangalore team. Dillion du Pree, the debutant yesturday seemed like an inspired pick. Four overs might be too early to judge, but he may yet become the star of Bangalore attack, surpassing a certain lackluster Dale Steyn.
Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab
For those who just couldn’t understand how the Royals won the tournament last year, myself included, this year, so far has been a vindication. The team has little value in the young mavericks. Veteran Saffer batsman Smith isn’t exactly setting anything on fire; they are missing Sohail Tanvir the most. Watson might have been another flop here – not a huge fan of him.
Kings XI is kind of neither here nor there. Their bowling department has lucked out with the selection of Abdullah. They are missing Sreesanth, Lee and Shaun Marsh. Jayawardena isn’t in cracking form. For me this is a 50-50 team. Could go either way.
Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils
The two most balanced sides – Mumbai and Delhi – have got fairly good results so far, the latter more than the former. Mumbai’s bowling has expectedly been bolstered by Malinga’s form and Zaheer’s presence. Is it just me or does somebody else also think Zaheer seemed more lethal when he was bowling for Bangalore?
Delhi lost Shikar Dhawan this year, but thankfully for them, he isn’t in form. Viru is yet to blast away that 10+ an over rate for the first 6-8 overs, but it might only be a matter of time.
Chennai Super Kings
Last year’s uber geek team is languishing in the table. Why that is the case is beyond me. Dhoni and Albie aren’t contributing too well. But that apart, you’ve got to believe it’s a matter of a few wins to see them in the top four where they belong.
Kolkata Knight Riders
The most woeful of the teams this year. Given the degree of off-field woe which seems to be propagating on-field, they probably deserve to be where they are. The batting isn’t clicking, McCullum’s batting looks stressed; he’s not the free flowing carefree man from last season. Ganguly is smug, Ishant erratic and unsupported by horrible fielding which reminds of Indian team from the early 90s, Agarkar is well, just plain Agarkar. Buchanan and his army needs to be shown the door and Ganguly or somebody else made sole captain.
The IPL has become a much blogged about topic ever since the auctions. Now that all that halchal is over, shall we turn to the other confusions in/as a result of the IPL?
1. Where will your loyalties be?
With your city or linguistically closest team, if you don’t have a team for your city? With your favorite Indian cricketer’s team or one in which he is in? What about when two of your favorites are in opposing teams? Would you even take to take sides? or be a swing-fan, switching sides every over?
As for me, I’m not supporting my city – Chennai – primarily because I don’t identify with it too much. To me, Mahendra Singh Dhoni is not the ideal ambassador of Chennai. I would have preferred someone from the South Zone. Even Muttiah Muralitharan would have been a better pick for me. I will instead be supporting Bangalore, for two reasons: the city and Rahul Dravid. However, when Bangalore plays Kolkata, with both my favorites Dravid and Ganguly leading the respective sides, I might turn into a swing-fan myself. 🙂
2. Does the fact that the teams are run by Bollywood stars and industrialists actually help or hamper the cause?
Some of these folk seem to be confused. Ottayan points out Shah Rukh’s ticket sales woes on his blog. On the one hand you have Shah Rukh expecting a first-day-release type of phenomenon; on the other, you have Priety Zinta autographing tickets (if the media reports are to be believed). Somehow to me, Bollywood stars running cricket teams strikes a strong resemblance to small Tech companies run by bankers and other non-Tech folk. Time will tell the fortune of cricket teams run by the non-sporting folk, but the story with the latter is often rather predictable. The non-Tech folk look for the revenue from day 1 – which is a non starter for Tech companies – and that while trying to squeeze every penny’s worth out of the developer. The end result is often a massive non-revenue generating chaotic something!
3. The format seems more sleep-worthy than the 2007 ODI World Cup.
Will the spectator interest sustain over the period of over a month?
4. Does this whole 20-20 gaga help cricket at all?
Won’t we be nurturing more Yuvrajs and to a lesser extent Dhonis – who don’t seem to be able to handle batting in Test cricket?
5. Will this help Indian cricket at all?
Or will any rivalries between the city teams blow up into conspiracy ala the Greg Chappell-Ganguly or Chappell-Dravid when the same folks end up in the national side?
Time will give us some of the answers. But meanwhile allow me cheer my (adopted) team. Go Bangalore! Knock ’em out!