In the two days of IPL break, a lot has changed in India. Modi (from opposition BJP party) has come to power emphatically and Congress (ruling party) has been trounced. Here in this year’s IPL also we have seen a new emerging winner roaring like a lion but here the difference is the old and efficient Chennai is neck to neck with them. They seem to have the essence of wine which becomes more likeable with each year passing by. Let us access what has gone into this year’s till now.
The IPL started in UAE on the backdrop of general elections in India. However, most of the teams were missing the comfort of playing in front of home crowd and Indian conditions. But Punjab which has performed average till date in all IPLs rose to the occasion and made the most of it. They were buoyed by renewed strategy, new coach and some very new and versatile players. Maxwell, the man of the moment till now has scared every bowling line up with his unorthodox hitting. He may not possess the buildup of Christopher Gayle, but he see surely has the power to hit the ball a long way and hit those monstrous sixes. Miller has started from where he left the last IPL, although this time has been playing second fiddle to Maxwell but he seems content with that role. The KXIP camp seems to be a happy camp with the likes of Sehwag and Bailey a part of this camp who are funny characters and keep their team bond strong. This is perhaps also one of the main reason for their good performance so far. Maxwell and Miller have been given the license to go out and start hitting from ball one. Collectively, they both have not failed so far and when one of them has, others have proved their mettle. Also, Sandeep Sharma, Dhawan & Akhsar Patel have all ensured their Indian counterpart bowling is not as weak as of other IPL teams.
Chennai, on the other hand, has been as consistent as Australia was once on the international circuit. They have a team which has no apparent weakness. They have the most number of international players in their team which can be evident in their ever consistent performance. They beefed up the squad with two dangerous opening batsmen who on song are difficult to stop even against good bowling. They gave the chance to both of them and these openers have not looked back being the most successful opening pair in the tournament. The one reason why the likes of Ishwar Pandey, Mohit Sharma and Jadeja perform so well is the guidance of Dhoni. He brings out the best in his players and possess faith in him. Trust them with their abilities which allows the players to raise the bar and perform to the best of their ability. He himself has also been in sublime form which has made matters worse for his opponents. Because he is the best finisher today, no matter how much we argue, he has won and closed few matches already with his calm hitting in the last 2 overs of CSK innings. Their only weakness seem to be the number seven position occupied by Mithun Manhas but he has hardly been needed so far. Although, in a knockout match if the need comes they might be under pressure.
Rajasthan Royals have simply been benefitted by the calm and wit of Rahul Dravid. They retained players with potentials and less fanfare. They also bought players who would not set the stage ablaze but good efficient players for an IPL team. This has shown in their results. Watson, although needs to lead from the front and perform better if they were to harbor any hopes of reclaiming the title again. They started the tournament well, but of late seems to have altered their combination a bit too much. With the likes of Tambe, Bhatia, Faulkner they have a array of slower bowlers who give no respite to the opposition team. Any team which has to score more briskly against RR has to do so by taking a calculated risk of hitting. Their middle needs to perform better and they should have good chances of winning.
All other teams have performed poorly and have not won matches consistently. Delhi have been plagued by self doubts and with Peiterson not taking part in early part of the tournament DD have lost the momentum even before they began their campaign. Karthik do not do justice to such a huge price tag. No doubt he is a good player but he is not a charismatic player who can be looked upon as a role model by youngsters. And, Delhi have lacked the leadership the most. They have also been not helped by poor decision making in defying their best batsmen to face the most deliveries. What is surprising though is that this is despite Kirsten being their coach which only goes to prove that the coach and captain are as good as your team. Bangalore have done so poorly for obvious reasons. The team which will have Dinda, Harshal Patel and Albie Morkel will lose more often than not. Their batting has not clicked with their mainstay batsmen Gayle and Kohli being out of form. They still have the potential to make the play-offs if their batting clicks together and even if the bowlers do a decent job.
This IPL, Mumbai has disappointed the most because of no reasons. The most important thing working against them is the weak opening combination. They have tried everything possible and still yet to find a concrete answer. Now, in all likelihood they have pride to play for and dwell upon their auction strategy. Letting Maxwell go have robbed them of all confidence and glamour, which is the most sought after skills for MI camp. KKR and SRH have performed well in patches but do not have the team to win the tournament. The only positives from an Indian perspective are Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Robin Utthapa.
In all the tournament has not produced high number of thrilling contests as it does every year. But we might just soon enter that phase as mostly 3-4 teams vie for the fourth position. The catching standards have improved in the latter part of the tournament. However, the best catch yet is one taken by Lynn to dismiss DeVilliers at a crucial stage. Apart from cricket, the tournament has seen all from Starc-Pollard fight to DeVilliers-Steyn bonhomie. The standard of Indian umpiring has been worse than Gully Cricket. I can vouch to be much better umpire and it does not augur well for the future. Many players have been warming the bench because of atrocious strategies of team management. We have been robbed of slog sweeps of Ross Taylor, spin guile of best T20I spinner Badree, effectiveness of Cooper, death bowling skills of Santokie and the ever wondering absence of Rasool. God only knows when he will get a chance, perhaps being from J&K has not helped matters.
What has been most heartening though are the performances of young Indian bowlers like Sandeep Sharma, Ishwar Pandey, Mohit Sharma, Yugvendra Chahal, Akshar Patel and Varun Aaron. Hope it is time to get rid of the likes of Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Vinay Kumar seeing their consistent failures even in IPL.