Tuesday, April 2, 2013

IPL 2013 Preview...

As I started preparing the preview for IPL 2013, I was curious to know as what I wrote last year this time. Care to read preview of IPL 2012 here? Interestingly not much changed from then and now.

To start with, on the Off Field attractions (controversies), we already have Sri Lankans barred from entering Chepauk Stadium by the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. This is as good as it gets to set the ball rolling. However, the matter appears to have settled amicably (murmurs probably) with Sri Lankan players/board, IPL Administrators, Franchise Owners all abiding to the command of the ruling party of Tamil Nadu.

Back to IPL, it used to be the competition among Chennai Super Kings, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Mumbai Indians, Delhi Daredevils, and Kolkata Knight Riders for a draw in the Top 4, while franchises like Rajasthan Royals, Kings XI Punjab, Pune Warriors, and Deccan Chargers usually try and punch above their weight to put a show against the big boys. Let’s see if there is any that changed this time.

This year’s IPL is strikingly different for the fact that Team India’s roaster is clobbered with new faces. Last year, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar was even a name in Indian Cricket, Cheteshwar Pujara commanded no respect whatsoever than warming the bench, Unmukt Chand hardly existed, while Virat Kholi was way behind on the Captaincy race. So much happened in the past one year, now the Indian public has vested their eyes on the new stars emerging.

Let me do a quick review of the teams and possibly pick my punts at the end of it.

Chennai Super Kings
You can’t get better than this. It is the most settled team with an established Captain who is slowly discovering his winning ways. It will be a shame if this team doesn’t finish in the top 4. I would like to go slightly overboard and say, it will be a shame if this team doesn’t finish in the top 2.

Knight Riders
Knight Riders may have been a winner of the last edition, this time around, they look largely deflated. Their Captain Gambir is out of national reckoning, Jacques Kallis is not getting younger either and so are the Lees, Haddins, Bhatias & Balajis. With McCullum likely to miss out most of the action, I wish to down grade Knight Riders to the second tier.

Mumbai Indians
Without a doubt, Mumbai Indians have been the perennial chokers. Will they live up to that reputation remains the only question? With the caste of John Wright, Anil Kumble , Ricky Ponting included, one is tempted to think otherwise. Either ways, I’m not sure about Mumbai Indians anything more than a spot in the playoffs.

Delhi Daredevils
This is another team that gets downgraded to the second tier in my purview. Their strike force (Pieterson) is ruled out of the entire tournament, Ross Taylor traded to Pune Warriors, Sehwag appears to have lost his charm even to the common fan these days, and Ryder’s is another tragic story. Nothing looks exciting for Delhi expect the name “UNMUKT CHAND”.

Royal Challengers Bangalore
Finally the Captaincy is handed to Virat Kohli. The bowling department is beefed up with the addition of R P Singh and Murali Karthik. Cheteshwar Pujara suddenly appears a major force in the side for all heroics displayed for India in the long format. With Mukund moving from Chennai to Bangalore, RCB Indian contingent looks reasonably good to back the super power of Gayle, Dilshan, DeVillers, Vettori, Muralidharan etc. RCB is my punt to win this edition of IPL ahead of Chennai or Mumbai.

Sunrisers Hyderabad
The franchise may have changed hands, the names could have possibly changed, but nothing is likely to change their punch bag status. When Sammy was bought in the auction, I for once really believed that he was in to replace Sangakara as skipper. But then that did not turn up to the story. Outside Dhawan and Steyn there is nothing really in this team to be excited.

Pune Warriors
After Clarke’s non-availability Mathews gets the elevation. The return of Yuvraj, rise of Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, aura of Uthappa all looks bright. Still they lack that punch for a place in the top 4.

Kings XI & Rajasthan Royals
Since the expectations are pretty low in these two franchises, they finish up doing higher. I’m curious if one of them could seal a place in the top 4.

Bottom line: It all boils down to one among the trio of Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai to emerge champions. Wonder who? Bangalore is my pick. What is yours?
Cricket Lover

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