The classical dance season has ended. Cabaret is about to begin. In case you haven’t guessed it yet, I mean the razzmatazz of IPL.
In next few weeks, Ravi Shastri will tell us all in his booming voice that no batsman is mug with the bat and he can hit the ball like a trace bullet. He will also tell that there is a buzz around the ground and atmosphere is electric. Ramiz Raja will tell us that as soon as the ball is two overs old, bowlers can get the reverse swing going. Sanjay Manjrekar will tell us that IPL has transformed the lives across the universe. Every match will go down to the wire. It will start happening with such regularity that differentiating between the matches will become so impossible that one-sided match will start looking interesting. Yet, you will follow it like a voyeur. Yet, you will curse it like a true crib master. Love it, hate it but you cannot ignore it. Next few weeks, will be only IPL.
Here is the preview – what teams look like.
Chennai Super Kings (CSKK) – Yellow, yellow. Sreeni Fellow will be back. Seeing MSD, Ashwin, Vijay and SIR play in yellow jersey may give a feeling that it is India’s test team playing for CSK. Just in case you get that feeling, please don’t let Badrinath know about it. Captain cool or fool, what you call him mainly depends upon which side of 2nd April 2011 you are looking at; MSD will have a tougher time as compared to the last IPL. During IPL2012, he kept a good job in keeping his bashers happy – we had just come back from a torrid Australian tour. Before IPL2013, he had brought upon the ire of his bashers by bashing the Australian side. While bashers must be so desperately waiting for India to fall flat in South Africa, MSD may well have to tackle voo doo magic this time.
While core of the team hasn’t change over the years, mind you it was a solid core; their batting continues to look better than their bowling. This has been the case with them all this long. Baba Aparajith will be watched eagerly. Mike Hussey will join the list of “retired cricketers who keep playing IPL just for the love of the game”. Saha will keep playing as a specialist batsman. But one man who is likely to make it a one-sided affair, the man who forced Cricinfo to put Mahatma Gandhi’s quote in his profile introduction, the man who owns a horse and may name it “PuP”, SIR will be the one to watch out for. Especially after his new stupendous performance in recently concluded test series.
CSK will start by losing, get them in a terrible situation and then get out of it with yellow colors. They will surely be in the last four.
Mumbai Indians (MI) – MI will be all about just one man – Sachin Tendulkar, as it has always been. One good straight drive, all his straight drives are orgasmic BTW, and devotees will say – “See, he can still beat the crap out of any blowing attack”. One failure, especially if bowled, and naysayers will say – “He is done. He must retire”. MI will continue to be what it has been during the past seasons - Sachin giving good opening and middle order often messing it up, quite like India of 90s. Difference will be the captain – it will be fun watching Ricky Ponting lead Harbhajan Singh. More than in the middle, batting in nets will be a worry for Ponting. Watching Phil Hughes bat will be fun – especially after his recent exploits, whatever they were, in the test series. Ambati Rayudu will make us wonder what he would have done with a bit of sanity of mind and availability of luck. May be Maxwell will be able to tell us why MI paid a fortune for him. Munaf Patel will keep charming the batsmen over with his fast diminishing guile and ear to ear smile. And as always, Rohit Sharma will keep redefining the word talent.
Like always, as Ravi Shastri will put it, MI’s race for last four will be “Touch and Go”.
Kolkata Knight Rider (KKR) – The kind most confused in KKR’s case will be their supporters. The people who got bashed up last time during/after the victory celebrations in Eden will be confused – to pray for one more IPL victory and risk getting beaten up once again or pray for KKR to become the real KKR which lost it all during the last four season but was most entertaining and probably most profitable too. KKR, like all seasons, will continue to be the most entertaining team – not necessarily in cricketing terms. Gautam Gambhir will be extra aggressive as a captain this time. Gums will be chewed with double ferocity; expletives will be puked out with triple cruelty – especially against CSK and the newbie Sunrisers Hyderabad. I hope Shami Ahmed learns more tricks from James Pattinson than from Balaji. KKR will always be confused in choosing the four foreign players from the army they have. If in 6 years a team cannot understand a simple fact that you can buy 100 foreign players but can play only four of them, maybe they never will. However, the man to hog the most airtime during KKR matches will continue to remain, not SRK, Chunky Pandey – in his blue and round shades.
One KKR player I would love to follow closely is the newly wed Yusuf Pathan. I would like to see if Pujara’s success after marriage was an aberration or the global warming is really changing the laws of nature.
Pune Warriors (PW) – Without Dada, KKR had become a Bongless team belonging to Bongland. With Dada, PW was the truest Bong team of the entire tournament. Alas, my favorite Dada’s name is missing this time in PW’s player list. PW will keep on giving tough fight to RCB in non-cricketing attractions. Katrina Kaif, Deepika Padukone, Diya Mirza, Saniya Mirza, Amisha Patel and I don’t know how many will be creating and IPL of its own – India’s Page3 League. I don’t know if I got the list right as some of them might be supporting different franchisees but who cares. But if there is one thing guaranteed in this IPL, it is that the match between PW and RCB will be a treat to watch – maybe the cricket will be good too.
As far as cricket is concerned, Clarke isn’t playing so SIR’s wrath will be distributed amongst other batsmen. The way names are in PW’s team – it looks like an A team. It will be good to see Rahul Sharma back in action. It will be good to see Bhuvneshwar Kumar in action. Ross Taylor, the man born on women’s day, will keep showing us why mid-wicket is his favorite reason. Yuvraj will flourish and flop with familiar regularity.
One player I would watch with keen interest is Parvez Rasool. His success is critical to future of cricket in J&K.
Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) – RCB will rely heavily on his “Have money? Will bat” man, Chris Gayle. Him, AB, Kohli and Dilshan form together an explosive top order worth dying for. RCB is a strong believer in keeping the balance in the game. Bowling attack comprising of RP Singh, Abhimanyu Mithun, Unadkat and Vinay Kumar provides just that. Or one can say that with only such bowling attack one can set a target challenging enough for the kind of top order RCB has. RCB seems to have left their bowling in the hands of Gods – maybe that’s why the names like Muralitharan, Ram, Rudra and Jaydev.
Maybe Zaheer Khan will give us some hope of a comeback. Maybe Harshal Patel will give us some hope for the future. Pankaj Singh’s presence, the man with a heartening story, will once again show us the positive sides of IPL. I hope Virat is smart enough to hide his lips.
Forget cricket. Who follows RCB for cricket, especially after departure of Dravid and Kumble? Whatever RCB is better known as, we shall surely get plenty of it. Glad to see that the name of Luke Anthony Pomersbach is missing from RCB’s team list. He was anyhow better suited for Delhi Daredevils.
Delhi Daredevils (DD) - In form of David Warner, DD has a wannabe Sehwag. In form of Unmukt Chand, they have wannabe Virat Kohli. Shahbaz Nadeem may well become next Murali Karthik. The way Irfan Pathan goes for runs nowadays; he seems to be hell-bent on becoming another Ajit Agarkar. Maybe this is the problem with DD. Nobody is himself – everyone is someone else in their own side. And the ones who are idols, they themselves are no better than those who are idolizing them. Only exception in this theory is Venugopal Rao who looks Nagarjuna.
That’s why Ashish Nehra is my favorite player in DD – he has always been and will always be Ashish Nehra, the only originality in their side. It is impossible to emulate him and Ashish Nehra is incorrigible.
On a serious note, I have no hopes from this team. Maybe Sehwag will win a match or two. Maybe Mahela will flourish. Maybe Andre Russell will show us some Gangnam style steps.
However, one man who I will surely be watching in this side is none other than Ajit Agarkar. Oh those juicy full-tosses at least once in an over and those innocent looks on the face “What? He is allowed to hit those? Hell I keep scoring blobs in vain”. He will be the man to watch in this side.
Rajasthan Royals (RR) – This team has got fire. This team has got ice. With Rahul Dravid and Brad Hodge, this team will have experience providing stability in batting. Rahane will be keen to start from zero – that’s where he left in Kotla. It is always fun watching Brad Hogg bowl – born a few years later, he would have been a star of international quality. Siddharth Trivedi is poor man’s Venkatesh Prasad. That’s all fine. This was mainly ice.
The two men expected to provide all the fire to this side are – Shanthakumaran “the man who moon walks” Sreesanth and Shaun “I retire twice everyday” Tait. While Sreenath’s fantastic seam position will make us wonder why we are missing what we are, his “blow hot blow cold” performances will tell us why. Shaun Tait’s bowling will tell us that unless well directed, pace is just a number. But these two will be fun to watch.
There are two reasons why RR is my favorite team. First one is Rahul Dravid. But second reason is more significant. In the times when HE is showing the mortal side of God, people are saying that Sachin is getting the Tendulkar treatment, his devotees are fast losing the battle of stats against the bashers and even God may be asking the retirement question, RR provides us the hope for future. In the times when we all are worried about life after Sachin, RR is going to announce Baby Sachin to the world. Or in simple English, RR is going to announce Sachin Baby to the world.
Sunrisers Hyderabad (SH) – It wouldn’t have mattered one single bit if Mumbai Dabbawallah would have sponsored MI in place of Reliance – people would have supported MI because of Sachin. Same can be said about CSK. I say the same for Hyderabad. Alas, the case is a bit different.
I liked Hyderabad (Deccan Chargers rather) for one reason – Gayathri Reddy. I loved the way she rooted for her team – every single time, didn’t matter if they lost or won. I loved the tinkles in her eyes when her team won – the team didn’t win much in the first season. I sulked with the tears in her eyes when her team lost – they have lost more than they have won. Normally you follow a side for the players – someone you always wanted to be. I followed Hyderabad for someone I am – the fan. I followed Hyderabad for Miss Reddy. Alas, she will not be around this time as sponsors have changed.
I am not sure if I shall watch any of SH matches. Why would I or for whom – for Parthiv “the young and upcoming keeper” Patel or for Ishant “I am unlucky. I have time for love” Sharma or for Shikhar “187 in 187” Dhawan. Maybe for Dale Steyn but he can only lure the viewer in me for four overs.
Sorry SH, you are not my team.
Kings XI Punjab – I almost forgot them. They are still around? Well, they are. Interestingly they have a few players who are unique in their own ways. Piyush Chawala is the only leg spinner in the world to have dimple cheeks. Azhar Mahmood is the only Pakistani cricketer allowed on Indian soil. Praveen Kumar must be the only cricketer termed as “Mentally unfit” to play by the match referee. They even have Luke Pomersbach in their side. All these players are quite unique in their own ways.
I am not sure if Gilchrist is still the force he used to be. David Hussey will be the key to their batting. Paul Valthaty will also play. Shaun Marsh will hope that his fortune of first IPL is back. Who to watch out for in this team? I don’t think there is anybody better than Preity Zinta. Hope she spares the umpires this time.
This concludes the preview. There has been an interesting trend being followed by IPL tournaments for last three years. Boredom of IPL2011 didn’t allow the feeling of winning a world cup in 2011. IPL 2012 looked like thrust upon us after the catastrophe that followed the world cup. We are entering IPL2013 after the euphoria of 4-0 win against Australia. I hope the trend keeps following. I don’t mind the boredom of IPL2015 killing another joyous feeling.