Wednesday, April 18, 2012

a race to the TOP 4

After about two weeks of IPL not much separates teams in terms of points. Rather, teams are still in the process of exploring balance and composition is a better phrase to explain the scenario. However from the current approach of teams I take a guess on their landing spot.

Deccan Chargers – Sangakara, Dhawan, Christian, Duminy is their batting line up in their last match played against Royals. Ankit Sharma, Styen, Christian, Anand Rajan and Amit Mishra make up their bowling quadrant. When you look at Chargers batting tactics, it only gives an impression that the Indians (in other words fringe players or not so star players) in the lineup are just fillers. Also the bowling changes create a notion that the Indian bowlers are sandwiched between Styen and Christian to complete the quota of overs. Usually in the game of Majority Vs Minority, it is always the Majority that wins. If Chargers strategy is to hide the Majority, they are sure to cement the top spot from bottom.

Rajasthan Royals: Rahul Dravid, Ajinkya Rahane, Maneria, Owais Shah, Hodge do the scoring job and the bowling responsibilities lay with Amit Singh, Pankaj Singh, Trivedi, Hogg and Botha. Rajasthan Royals are probably the only (small) franchise in IPL that focus to tap the potential of Majority while leverage the strengths of Minority. Gayle or Dhoni, it does not matter, the boys like Amit Singh, Pankaj Singh, Trivedi just turn up to face the challenge. Because every member of the side is handed a defined role, Royals are my personal favorites to make it to the play offs. Also, somewhere down the line Chandimal and Watson will join the action to make their presence count. Playoffs or not, Rajasthan Royals are likely to produce more India cricketers compared to other franchises. Pankaj Singh looks any day better than Vinay Kumar.

Kings XI Punjab: Despite 4 games in their kitty, Punjab has not settled with their composition yet. We have witnessed far too many changes in the XI compared to previous year. Except Gilchrist, Marsh, Hussey, Praveen Kumar and Chawla half the side change every game both in terms of place and position. Also the personal form of Gilchrist and Marsh are no good. May be this is not their year, the least yet.

Mumbai Indians – Tendulkar/Suman, Levi, Sharma, Rayudu, Pollard, and Franklin has been their batting line up until before their last game against Delhi when they decided to test their bench strength. We can safely assume the above batting line up to blossom except for minor alterations in position/player. The bowling is managed between Malinga, Harbhajan, Munaf Patel, RP Singh, Ojha, Pollard and Franklin. In case of Mumbai Indians, the quality of both local talent and foreign players are equally good and the responsibilities are evenly distributed. By any means Mumbai Indians are sure shot to make it to the last four.

Pune Warriors India: Uthappa, Ryder, Ganguly, Samuels, Smith, Mathews hog the batting line up and Nehra, Dinda, Rahul Sharma, Mathews, Samuels handle the bowling quotient. By coming down to No.3, Ganguly did the right thing of freeing up the opening slot to Uthappa. But their batting is dependent heavily on Uthappa and four foreign players, while Indian counterparts take the bowling onus. In my opinion, this side, largely lack the balance aspect. Ideally 2 batsmen, 1 batting/bowling all-rounder and 1 bowler making up the foreigner’s quota should aid the stability of a team. Pune Warriors are not scoring on these grounds. In my best guess, they are more likely to end up on the bottom half of the table.

Delhi Daredevils – Sehwag, Naman Ojha, Kevin Pieterson, Jayawardene, Taylor, Yogesh Nagar/Venugopala Rao, Irfan Pathan looks to be batting lineup from here on. May be Taylor or Pieterson could pave way for a bowling all-rounder like Vander Merwe/Doug Bracewell/Andre Russell to balance the composition depending on surface. Bowling responsibilities are predominantly handled by Irfan Pathan, Morkel, Yadav, Nadeem. Even Delhi Daredevils to some extent prefers to hide the weak links. Considering the quality of batting resources in the lineup they can fancy themselves winning most games. However lack of good Indian spinners in the ranks is surely going to haunt the side especially when the tournament moves to the later stages. It is probably for this same reason they are not my favorite to win IPL.

Knight Riders: Kallis, Gambir, Bisla, Tiwary, Yusuf Pathan, Shakib, Ten Doeschate/McCullum make up the batting and the bowling is controlled by Balaji/Unadkat, Kallis, Narine/Lee, Shakib, Bhatia and Abdullah. The consistent failure of Kallis and Yusuf Pathan is hurting the team more than the composition. And then the indifferent form Gambir adds fuel to the fire. I personally hope better days are ahead of them.

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Dilshan, Gayle, Kohli, DeVilliers is a dream batting order. Tiwary, Agarwal and Kaif/Pujara to follow are not bad options considering the heavyweight starters. Zaheer Khan, Vettori, Murali (for Dilshan), Vinay Kumar are fairly good option to back the batting treasure. It is more often the 4th and 5th bowler that keeps killing the game for Bangalore. It is high time the think-tank seriously consider replacing the 6th batsman for an extra bowler. It will be huge surprise if this ship sinks.

Chennai Super Kings: Vijay, Du Plessis, Raina, Dhoni, Jadeja, Bravo, Morkel, Badrinath comprise the batting order and the bowling is managed between Bollinger, Ashwin, Jakati, Bravo, Morkel, Raina and Jadeja. This is a proven side with proven strategies. But Dhoni coming at No.4 is the new revelation this season. Considering Vijay’s continuous failure at the top, it is only a matter of time Saha will replace him. By reputation they are likely to make the top 4. In reality??? Time will tell.

Bottom line: In my opinion, Deccan, Pune and Punjab are sure to finish bottom. Mumbai & Rajasthan are my bets to finish in the top four. For the remaining 2 spots there will be good fight between Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi and Kolkata.

Cricket Lover


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