Monday, April 29, 2013

Razzmatazz at halfway stage!!!

We are almost there. In less than a month, Veera will be breathing easy on Star as it won’t have to compete with Tracer Bullet’s clichés. Pankhudi will be free to tell us all about Pyar ka Dard hai, meetha meetha pyara pyara.
IPL6, just past halfway stage, will finally come to an end. However, it is time to look back and see how the teams have performed.

PW – One player PW has been badly missing this season is Sourav Ganguly. If he was there, PW would have found it easy to name the reason behind pathetic performance. Alas, they don’t have him. I have a hunch that in PW’s matches, it won’t be the winner that gamblers would be betting on. It is given that PW would lose. They would be betting on who is going to walk out to toss the coin for PW. Surprisingly, they haven’t changed their captain for last few matches. Coming back to cricket, Finch has provided some hope just to be killed by the bowling line up which includes the man who can jump to the moon – Dinda. Yuvraj has made a few guest appearances. B Kumar has bowled brilliantly. But it ends at that. I am not sure if there is even a remote possibility for PW to make it to top four which makes them a really dangerous side – for other sides. PW is in a perfect position to play the role of a party spoiler.
DD – In one of the past few seasons, there was a joke floating around – “Hope GMR has done better job in building Delhi airport than building the team”. Having seen Delhi airport a few times, I am sure GMR did a better work in building them. On paper, they don’t look a bad side. They have an ex SL captain in Mahela, could be Australian captain in Warner and could have been an Indian captain in Sehwag. They have India’s best pacer and SA’s second best pacer. Problem is that DD doesn’t have anything in between these two sets. They don’t have a middle order. Juneja doesn’t look to be ready for this version of cricket; Unmukt Chand doesn’t look to be ready for cricket which has a flavor of international cricket at senior level. Maybe DD still have an outside chance of making it to top four but I would rate my chances of getting a 20% salary hike more than that.
KKR - KKR is fast going back to good old KKR days – of the first four seasons. Good to see GG has given up his habit of guiding the ball to slips but sad to see that he has picked of a new habit of getting bowled regularly. These days, everyone tries to become God. If KKR struggled in first four seasons, it was because of too much arsenal imported from outside India. They didn’t believe much in homegrown talent. Things changed a bit after first three seasons with acquisition of GG, Yusuf Pathan, Bhatia etc. Alas, it is back to square one this time. Sunil Narine is still taking wickets but he doesn’t often get enough runs to defend. Balaji is fast getting to the levels of Narine – in terms of bowling speed. Kallis is not in match winning form. Morgan is often left a bit too much to do. Yusuf Pathan is proving to be a bigger bubble than credit crisis. KKR is in trouble and I know why. I am yet to see their savior this season – Chunky Pandey in the crowd with his round and blue shades. KKR needs him and needs him badly.
KXIP – The fact that KXIP are still in with a chance would have surprised even them. Gilly has been batting like Dinesh Mongia. Piyush Chawla’s assets have become more prominent than Preity Zinta’s, the dimples I mean. Awana has shown that he is a better dancer than a bowler – a trait leading him to the path laid by ex-KXIP legend, Sreesanth. Apart from three M’s, Mandeep Singh, Manan Vohra and Miller, others haven’t done much. But they have done enough to win 50% of their matches. No matter how bad Gilly’s form has been, his greatness is bound to make him play an unbelievable innings in at least one match. I am afraid that innings will either clear the way for KXIP into the next round or end the road for some other team.
SRH – SRH have played quite like Pakistan. Their bowling has almost always been explosive. Their batting has almost always been imploding. To add to it, they have Parthiv Patel in their wings – closest human to Kamran Akmal when it comes to wicket keeping. Watching Dale Steyn bowl has been a pleasure. Playing Amit Mishra has been a pain. Captaincy by White has sometimes been pathetic. Yet, SRH have done well to stick to their motto – neither will we score more than 130 nor we will let you score more than 130. With comeback of Shikhar Dhawan, they can expect some strength in their batting. As long as they don’t play in Chennai, Perera’s all-round abilities are going to be more than handy. Amit Mishra has proved that it is not just the ball or his bulging tummy; he can also contribute with the bat. Only if they could get Sanga back in the side, SRH would be safer. One name I would like to mention is of Ashish Reddy. While he has done okay till now, I think he is the wrong Reddy in SRH camp. If you have read any of my pieces on IPL 6 earlier, you would know which Reddy I am talking about.
MI – If MI is in top four it is not because but in spite of Sachin and Ponting opening for them in the first few matches. Good that Ponting decided to sit out. For Sachin, either he hasn’t lasted long or he has taken too long if he has. MI’s batting has been all about Dinesh KArthik, their fielding has been all about Pollard and their bowling has been a lot about Johnson. It is admirable that MI have done so well although their trump card, Malinga, hasn’t been in the best of forms. Or considering the ease with which lot of Indian batsmen play him, he is no longer a trump card. Whenever Rohit Sharma has walked out to bat, he has played at least one shot which made us drop or jaws and say, “Why the hell he is not a permanent fixture in Indian team”. In the same innings, Rohit Sharma has shown us exactly why he is not a permanent fixture in the side. Please keep a margin of 10% in my theory about his batting. BTW, that’s the success rate he enjoys as well. Ideally, MI should make it to top four but one can never be confident about it. In the past, MI has found new ways of messing it all up.
RR – RR is my favorite team because of Dravid. It is ironic that bottom two teams in top four have lost a match each to bottom two teams in the tournament. Till now, RR has done really well from the pool of not so well-known players – Chandila, Yagnik, Faulkner etc. Dravid, Rahane and Hodge have done decently. RR is lucky that they seem to be done with their well-known players – Tait and Sreesanth. But biggest asset for RR has been return of the Jedi – Shane Watson. Sometimes it takes years for a person to find out what is stopping him to be at his best. Shane Watson did it in one night. He stepped down as Australia’s vice-captain and next day, he was bowling. His batting also improved. Let’s see how long it takes in him stepping down as an Australian cricketer and become a freelancer ala Gayle. But somehow I feel that RR lacks something important to make it to the next round – they need the killer punch. I am afraid that it will be SRH to deliver it to them in the race to final four.
RCB – Chris Gayle, Chris Gayle and Chris Gayle – that’s what has been the story of RCB. Okay, even Kohli and AB have batted really well but it is Gayle who has been the deciding factor more often than not. Surprisingly, RCB’s bowlers have done better than expected. Vinay Kumar has been close to purple cap all along and RP Singh has made amends for that notorious no ball on more than one occasion.
Virat Kohli has given plenty of proofs why he should be kept away from captaining India for a long time. I find it ironic that India’s most aggressive (or abusive) player keeps demanding respect from the crowd. Maybe someone must tell him that if he is looking for admiration, his batting is getting him plenty of it. If he is looking for respect, his behavior must change. Anyways, RCB is sure to remain in top four. Whether they get past that stage will depend on how their big three bat on particular days. If they happen to meet CSK in one of those days, their chances of getting past that stage will be slimmer.
CSK – This season, CSK has played quite unlike CSK. They are looking certainty for top four at this point is a proof of that. Normally, they limp their way to top four as the season ends. Well, that’s the only area where they haven’t been like CSK. Otherwise it has been like last five seasons – whenever it has come down to punching their opponents, CSK has come out winning. Michael Hussey has ensured that the pitch at which calls will be made for his comeback in ashes will be really high. MSD has shown that he has yet not lost the touch of being one of the best finishers. SIR has proved that he can win matches on his own. Saha may keep out Vijay for rest of the season. Raina is yet to hit the top form. Badri is yet to get enough opportunities. CSK has been the best fielding side in the entire tournament. While CSK’s yellow dress and attitude have made them look like Australia of old, their death bowling has made them look like India of forever. While people have complained about each and every CSK match being too close for comfort, I have found them predictable especially if CSK has been chasing. No matter how many they have needed to win, the equation in the last five over has been 50+ to score in five overs. Other 35 overs in the match have looked like a waste of time. In IPL5, CSK considered Bisla as out of syllabus and that out of syllabus question was the reason for them to fail in the final exam. Unless CSK keeps on ignoring this phenomenon, they sound like the strongest contender to win the title.
That’s it ladies and gentlemen. Next few days or so will give us one more IPL champion. But in the dictionary of Tracer Bullet, cricket will be the ultimate winner. 

(Picture courtesy: Indian Express)

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