Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Home Alone

The time has come in the tournament were the leaders are slowly separating from the laggards. Of course there is a team or two who does not fall into either of the category. For now Mumbai, Chennai, Rajasthan are fighting for pole position. While Delhi, Deccan, Pune and Kochi clearly lagging behind. That leaves to say Punjab, Kolkata and Bangalore could finish either side of the line.

It is far easier to predict who will finish top of the table than predicting who will finish last. For once SRK can be relieved that his team won’t finish at the bottom.

However, the success of a team is not only based on the big names / captains / chemistry / composition / coaching staff but also depends on how close teams work with curators at home. After all with crowd support and turfs that best suit the strengths of home players, teams should secure anywhere between 5 and 7 victories. Already Chennai and Rajasthan mastered the art of home runs. This is exactly the field where Shane Warne brought the invincible Mumbai Indians to tame submission.

This is precisely where Kochi lost the plot despite gaining momentum by beating sides like Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata consecutively. A pace and bouncy wicket bounced them out against Deccan, while a slow - low turner scuttled them out against Delhi. Either of the wickets prepared did not match the strength of the home side. It is sad when Jayawardane comments “We are professionals willing to play on the surface provided”.  Better Jaya become a true leader and start working with curators to press the home advantage. The same script is haunting the devils too who are clearly losing the benefit of playing at home. Also had Sanga worked with curators, I’ve no doubts Deccan would have played their home games on livelier tracks to aid Ishant and Steyn.

As the summer starts beating around, wickets are moving towards the slower side. This is prone to assess the foreigner’s adaptability. Players like McCullum, Jacobs, Morgan etc are likely to be tested by teams that press this advantage.

As we talk about home advantage, it will be interesting to see if Rajasthan could break the Chennai stronghold or Chennai could take down Rajasthan fortress as they battle out each other back to back in the next few days. My guess is both will defend their home games, if not Chennai eclipsing Rajasthan home and away. Mumbai is not far too behind dealing with home conditions. However Chennai looks to be the better of the 3 teams in all aspects (captaincy, team chemistry, composition, home advantage, support staff and finally playing finals at home) should defend the title successfully.

After all, if Mahindra Singh Dhoni could break the jinx behind winning the World Cup at home, I’m sure he should be relishing the opportunity of playing at home for defending the IPL title.

Bottom Line: Twenty20 is not a game of hit and miss.  It is better not left alone at home.

Cricket Lover

PS: This article was prepared before the recruitment of Ganguly by Pune Warriors.

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