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Posts Tagged ‘CSK

Chennai Super Kings haven’t had the greatest of seasons so far. With just 3 wins from 9 games their chances of getting to the playoffs is thinning with every loss. Their loss against Delhi Capitals over the weekend was a must win game to keep their confidence going but again despite putting up a good total their bowling and fielding let that chance slip.

While Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab kept their hopes alive with a moral boosting win, they also put a lot of pressure on CSK and Rajasthan Royals. CSK not only lost the game against Delhi Capitals, they also lost their star all-rounder Dwayne Bravo to injury. Losing him mid game and having to bowl Ravindra Jadeja in the final over cost them dearly. This would also mean that they would have to change their team combination once again. CSK haven’t been able to field a settled combination so far this season and Bravo’s absence is not going to be easy.

The middle order batting options isn’t something which is abundant in CSK’s arsenal. They only have Kedar Jadhav and Narayan Jagadeesan in their squad to fill that slot. The other decision they need to make is between Josh Hazlewood and Lungi Ngidi. Kedhar Jadhav had a poor IPL and was a regular for CSK in the first few games. He isn’t bowling anymore which means that he needs to play only as a batter in the XI. He really struggled with the bat this season and him not being the fastest mover on the field might weigh heavy in the decision making process. Jagadeesan played only one game for CSK and scored 30 odd, it would be unfair to not give him another chance in the XI.

The other option Dhoni & Co have is playing an extra spinner in Piyush Chawla in place of Bravo which also might be one of the discussion points. The other pickle CSK have is that with Bravo missing they need to plug their death bowling void. Bravo and Shardul Thakur did that for CSK in the last few games and with the former injured they need to decide between Hazlewood and Ngidi for that spot. Ngidi does seem the natural choice but again Hazlewood provides CSK with wickets with the new ball. It will be a tough call for the team management ahead of their all important game against Rajasthan Royals.

Making change to the playing XI is always tough but doing it when you are not particularly performing well as a team is even more difficult. CSK will know that any more slip up would mean that their chances of making it to the final four will almost be over. This is a must win the pressure is enormous on MS Dhoni and Stephen Fleming.

My Playing XI:

Sam Curran, Faf Du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu, Shane Watson, MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, N Jagadeesan/Piyush Chawla, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, Karn Sharma, Lungi Ngidi

Chennai Super Kings have had a horrible start to IPL2020 with just 2 wins in 7 games. This is not the first time the men in yellow have found themselves in such a quagmire. They were in similar situation in 2010 as well. That time though they won 5 out of their next 7, reached the playoffs and then eventually beat Mumbai Indians in the finals to win their first IPL title. The biggest difference between then and now is not only the personnel but also the will to pull off such a heist again.

CSK of 2010 was a brilliant team. They had a brilliant opening pair of Matthew Hayden and Murali Vijay. Vijay during the initial seasons was a brilliant player for CSK who scored couple of hundreds for them in the tournament. They also had a firing Suresh Raina who had another 500+ run season. They had Subramaniam Badrinath who scored 350 runs at 32 and held the middle order for the team and the captain himself who was in amazing form.

The bowling attack in 2010 had the brilliant Doug Bollinger who was hard to get away. They also had Muttaih Muralitharan who had a brilliant season with the ball. Ravichandran Ashwin had a breakthrough year for CSK which propelled his ascent to the national team in the same year. All-Rounder Albie Morkel and Shadab Jakati all had brilliant years with the ball. The team was firing after the initial setback and had a captain who was fresh, fit and was motivating to a team which knew how to win.

The CSK team in 2020 isn’t anywhere near the ability the team of 2010 had. First of all there is no Suresh Raina who most often than not ends up scoring 500 runs in a season for CSK. They don’t have a solid middle order which CSK had in the initial seasons of the tournament. They also don’t have a bowling attack which quite as varied and potent as the 2010 attack was. The biggest issue for CSK this season other than the age of the squad is a jaded and tired MS Dhoni. The biggest talisman for CSK over the years has been their captain “Thala” Dhoni. When the season started this year question marks were raised as to how would Dhoni perform after not having played for a long time.

Even though CSK had a dream start to the season beating MI in the first game, when Dhoni pushed himself below everyone in the order, the answer was there for everyone to see. The MS Dhoni we knew would have walked out after Rayudu’s dismissal to finish the game of himself but he sent Jadeja and Sam Curran ahead of him. When he was struggling to bat in the game against SRH it was evident that the man is strategically and physically not in his best shape to guide this team anymore.

The planning before the start of the tournament wasn’t there and CSK did not bid for many young Indian cricketers in the auction last year. With a thin batting which does not have much wiggle room, CSK decided to invest more on the bowling. The strategy which did not make sense even during that time. While Riyan Parag, Devdutt Padikkal and Priyam Garg all are looking good for their respective franchise, CSK haven’t been consistent with Ruturaj Gaikwad in the playing XI. They finally gave a chance to Jagadeesan last game but again strategically playing another wicketkeeper in the XI and making him field in the outfield was poor. Jagadeesan dropped a catch and I don’t blame him as I am not sure how often he has had to do that.

Chennai Super Kings have a great legacy in IPL. They are the only team to reach the playoffs in all the seasons they have been part of. A streak which seems to be coming to an end this season. In all probability this might be MS Dhoni’s last season as a player for CSK and I hope that the team has a little bit gas left in the tank to make one final push. They might not be able to win the title but they would want to end the season with some good performances. CSK still are mathematically in this tournament but the question is whether they have the will to fight once again with their backs to the wall. It is not going to be easy but if there is one team who can fight the odds it is CSK.

CSK’s start to this season of the IPL has been erratic so far. A fantastic win against Mumbai Indians were followed by two insipid performances against Delhi Capitals and Rajasthan Royals. The biggest issue for the men in yellow has been their batting order. The openers have struggled to provide good starts and Ambati Rayudu missing out after a brilliant 70 odd hasn’t helped the combination either.

CSK will be playing SRH tonight who themselves have been struggling with their team combination at the start of the tournament. The only difference between the two sides is that SRH are coming off a morale boosting win while CSK have been beaten in their last couple of games. CSK management would have to make some tough calls with team selection to arrest the slide and to get back on track.

The first step towards the same would be to drop Murali Vijay from the XI. Vijay has done exceedingly well for CSK in the past but he is currently looking listless and isn’t contributing with the bat or in the field. Ruturaj Gaikwad who has been wasted down the order can open with Shane Watson pushing Ambati Rayudu and Faf Du Plessis to number 3 and 4 in the order. Kedar Jadhav and MS Dhoni forming the top 6 forming a more solid batting order.

If fit Dwayne Bravo can come in at number 7 following by Jadeja at 8 and Sam Curran at 9. Sam Curran can be a floater as he has been at the start of the tournament for CSK. Deepak Chahar and Piyush Chawla would be taking up the remaining spots. This would give CSK great balance with three all-rounders and two genuine bowlers in the line up. Dwayne Bravo’s selection though might not be straight forward though. There is very good chance that Josh Hazlewood or Imran Tahir might make the XI. Based on who is selected one of Piyush Chawla and Shardul Thakur also might make the XI

There are a few selection headaches for the CSK management when they sit down to select the playing XI for tonight. With losses in the last couple of games CSK need a quick turnaround and another loss would set their campaign way back. There are lots of issues with the CSK squad this season and they do not have too many options to replace the injured players. They would need to be creative with their options would need to make most of the players they have.

My CSK XI:

Shane Watson, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ambati Rayudu, Faf Du Plessis, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (Capt & WK), Dwayne Bravo/Josh Hazlewood, Sam Curran, Ravindra Jadeja, Piyush Chawla, Deepak Chahar

When Suresh Raina decided to leave at the start of this season everyone expected CSK’s gameplan to take a hit. They were carrying two out of form openers and a bunch of rusty middle order bats. Raina who adds a great dimension to the CSK batting order has left a huge hole which I don’t think the team management were prepared for.

For some weird reason in the last years auction CSK went after bowlers but did not invest much on the batting front. The opening combination especially is pretty dicey for CSK. Murali Vijay who was once an explosive and consistent opener for CSK is just a shadow of the batsman he once was. His confidence seems to be non existent and that showed even during his fielding in the first game against Mumbai Indians. Shane Watson who was CSK’s star in their win in 2018 hasn’t been playing competitive cricket for a while now and that has shown in his form over the last couple of seasons.

This puts enormous pressure on Ambati Rayudu and Faf Du Plessis as the starts haven’t been what they would need for a T20 game. When Rayudu missed the game against RR due to injury CSK’s batting woes came into view for everyone to see. Ruturaj Gaikwad got a chance but we cannot be hard on the youngster after just one game. CSK would need to think about Murali Vijay’s role in the team. He has been poor in the field and has struggled to get going with the bat which means they would have to take a quick call once Rayudu comes back.

The problem for the men in yellow is that they do not have too many options in the squad. This leaves pretty less room for experimentation for the team management. The lack of batting options mean that CSK need to try and promote Ruturaj Gaikwad to open the batting alongside Shane Watson. This would also mean that Rayudu and Faf can play in their respective positions. Kedar Jadhav and MS Dhoni need to improve fast and soon in the middle order and they need to hope that Sam Curran continues to be excellent like he has been so far for the franchise.

The other major change CSK will be looking at is replacing Lungi Ngidi. The big South African made a great comeback in the first game but hasn’t been consistent enough. Josh Hazlewood can be given a chance in the upcoming games or even Shardul Thakur can get a look in which can allow CSK to play Dwayne Bravo or Imran Tahir based on the wicket for the upcoming games. Lots of things for the Stephen Fleming and co to think about ahead of their next game. The lack of batting options is something which might come back to bite them later in the season. For now moving around a few players is all they can do hoping that will be enough to get through this season.

Chennai Super Kings (CSK) are one of the best teams in the history of IPL. They are the only team who have reached the play-offs in every IPL they have been part of. They have won the title 3 times and are always one of the favourites going into an IPL season. The biggest constant for the franchise has been their two legends in batting, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni. Suresh Raina at number 3 has been a regular for CSK and him pulling out leaves a huge hole in the top order.

Raina also is an IPL legend with 5368 runs in the tournament in 193 games. In the absence of the southpaw, CSK will be forced to reshuffle their batting order. While Shane Watson is a fix at the top, the opening role might go to Murali Vijay who has been struggling in this format over the past few seasons. Ruturaj Gaikwad is another option CSK might mull over considering his T20 record at the domestic level. In the absence of Raina, Ambati Rayudu is most likely to take over the number 3 spot.

The number 4 spot will most likely go to the Faf Du Plessis to spruce up the top order in the absence of Suresh Raina. This would mean that there will be space for only two more foreign players in the X1. Kedar Jadhav at 5 and MS Dhoni at 6 will complete the top 6 of CSK.

Dwayne Bravo will mostly grab the pace bowling all-rounder spot followed by Ravindra Jadeja as the lead spinner. Here is where things get exciting for CSK. For the first time they have a good group of fast bowlers especially the international group with Josh Hazlewood, Lungi Ngidi and Sam Curran. Hazlewood and Curran are coming in match fit. Both of them have been in good form for their respective sides in limited overs games. CSK though would be in dilemma as all three fast bowlers are fantastic. If the CSK camp are to be believed, Lungi Ngidi has been bowling with serious pace in the practice games. Sam Curran on the other hand gives CSK with lower order batting along with his left arm swing. Josh Hazlewood gives them with control with the new ball.

This for sure will be a hard choice as there is space for only one foreign pace bowler in the X1. Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar will also be in the mix as one of them has to play in the X1. The other selection trouble for CSK is the spin bowling department. They have Imran Tahir in the squad as well but again Piyush Chawla who was snapped up for a fortune in the auction last year will take the second spinner spot in the X1. Only one of Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur will find space in the X1.

The pace bowling combination is something which CSK will have a lot to think about. To decide between 3 world class bowlers will not be easy at all considering they might be able to play only one of them at most times.

CSK have a great squad this time with the right amount of experience and talent. The biggest challenge for them this season would be to get the right combination on the field. The team management will have lots of thinking to do ahead of their clash against last years champions Mumbai Indians in the first game of the season. It will be interesting to see what Stephen Fleming and MS Dhoni have in mind regarding the team combination.

My CSK XI for the first game:

Murali Vijay, Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu, Faf Du Plessis, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (WK & Capt), Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Piyush Chawla, Lungi Ngidi, Deepak Chahar

 

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Mumbai Indians will start as the favourites tonight in their crucial encounter against Chennai Super Kings

So after 56 games with 8 teams battling out for 4 spots in the play-offs, we are finally in the business end of the IPL 2019. Chennai Super Kings will take on Mumbai Indians in the first qualifier later today in the MA Chidambaram Stadium,Chennai. Mumbai Indians have been the team to beat this year. They have qualified at the top of the points table after the league stage and possibly have the best balanced side of the competition this year.

Their bowling has been brilliant throughout with Lasith Malinga and Jasprith Bumrah leading the attack and the batting has come to its own at the latter half of the tournament. Rohit Sharma and Suryakumar Yadav batted well and look in good form going into the play-off. They have beaten Chennai Super Kings in both the games this season and will start as favourites for tonight’s encounter. For CSK though the sailing hasn’t been as smooth. Despite being one of the top sides of the season, they haven’t quite performed as a team this season. Their batting has been a suspect and MS Dhoni has been the talisman who has dragged them to victories in some crucial games in the league stage.

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CSK will be hoping that their batters finally click in the all important game against MI tonight

Shane Watson except for the one innings has struggled and the rest have been inconsistent which makes their task much harder in the play-offs. The bowling though has done well especially at home with Imran Tahir being their chief wrecker. The biggest advantage though for CSK is that they are playing at home where they have been brilliant again this season. Their only loss though has come against Mumbai Indian whom they will be facing off in the play-offs tonight.

Key Players:

MS Dhoni (CSK) – There is no bigger player in the CSK camp at the moment than the captain himself. CSK have struggled in games when the captain has been absent and his performance on the field and the bat will be crucial for the success of the team. He so far has been brilliant and has scored 368 runs at an average of 122 with a brilliant SR of 139.92. He will for sure be the key player for the home side.

Imran Tahir (CSK) – Tahir has been the go to bowler for MS Dhoni throughout this season. He has been brilliant at home and in away games for CSK. He has been economical and has also picked up wickets at crucial moments for his side this season. He is currently second in the list of highest wicket takers this season with 21 wickets with a brilliant economy rate of just 6.5. On a slow Chennai pitch, he will be crucial in the middle overs.

Hardik Pandya (MI) – For MI this season, even though Quinton De Kock and Keiron Pollard have played some brilliant knocks, it has been Pandya who has been the X-Factor for them this season. He has scored 380 runs at a SR of 198 so far and will be crucial for them once again in the play-offs.

Lasith Malinga & Jasprith Bumrah (MI) – These two have been so brilliant this season with the ball that it is hard to separate them. Both Bumrah and Malinga have been hard to get away this season and they have also picked wickets at crucial stages through out. They have taken 32 wickets between them and have been fantastic at the death.

This game will be a cracker and both the teams playing tonight have won the IPL three times each. The advantage of finishing in the top 2 means, both these teams will get another crack at making the finals even if they lose tonight but that will be the last thing on their minds at the moment. Even though Mumbai Indians start as the favourites for this game, MS Dhoni & CSK cannot be written off in an important game like this. Don’t see many changes in the XI’s of both sides but due to injury, CSK have to look for replacement for Kedar Jadhav. For MI though they have been unlucky with the pace bowling stocks but for Chennai, they might need an additional spinner. They might bring back Mayank Markande in the XI for today.

 

IPL evokes mixed emotions among fans across the world. Some people call it great entertainment whilst the others call it a meaningless slogathon. The only thing as an Indian fan which compels me to watch this long drawn out tournament is the young Indian players. In the past the only way to know about a young talent is when they made the Indian team. In the last 15 years or so television has brought domestic games closer to us but still not a lot of us get time to follow them. The IPL though is something which sheds light on these young talents. The current IPL is no different. Performances in the IPL need to be taken with a pinch of salt. Even though there are some great bowlers taking part in the tournament, flat pitches and small boundaries kind of negate any sort of impact they might have on the batsmen. In spite of all that it takes a special talent for an uncapped player to perform in front of record crowds and against some international greats. So here is the list of players that impressed me this season. I am only including their list A and FC records as a yardstick as I don’t think performances in IPL should be taken into account when selecting players for ODI’s and test cricket.

Shreyas Iyer (FC: 50.56, LA: 54.60)

Of all the young players this season none impressed me more than this 20 year old. Shreyas Iyer opened the batting for Delhi Daredevils and has performed brilliantly with the bat. Shreyas represents Mumbai in first class cricket and has made an impressive start to his career. He already has 2 hundreds in 10 first class games and averages 50. His List A record is also impressive as he averages 54 with a hundred already to his credit in 6 games. Shreyas looks primed for India debut sooner than they would have imagined but again it will be interesting to see if the selectors go for him in the upcoming tour to Bangladesh. Shreyas looks like a test prospect for India and I hope he is not thrown in too soon in that format.

Deepak Hooda (FC: 50.63, LA: 40.60)

Here is another youngster who has had an impressive beginning in first class cricket for Baroda. Deepak Hooda has 2 first class hundreds in 8 games at an impressive average of 50.63. He had a brilliant start to IPL for Rajasthan Royals but has fallen off the grid as the tournament progressed. Hooda has brilliant hand eye coordination and has shown that even at the age of just 20 he can hit long balls. Hooda looks a perfect middle order prospect for ODI/T20 format for India as he can bowl part time off spin if needed. Hooda is another brilliant find this season by Rajasthan who lead the way in unearthing good Indian talent.

Pawan Negi (FC: Bat – 27, Bowl – 42, LA: Bat – 6.00, Bowl – 33.66)

The Delhi left arm spinner who plays for CSK does not have enough FC experience at this point. The 22 year old though has shown enough spark in the T20 games to suggest that he could be a good back up for Ravi Jadeja in the shorter formats. Pawan is a good lower order bat and a good left arm spinner who has done well for CSK in IPL games. He needs to play more FC games for us to judge if he can represent the Indian team beyond T20’s and ODI games. Pawan has shown great talent with the bat which augurs well for India in the shorter format. Let’s hope that with experience he can become a good bowling all-rounder for India in all formats.

Sarfaraz Khan (FC: 23.75, List A: 29)

Young Sarfaraz is all of just 17 years of age and has been a revelation for RCB in IPL 2015. He has played couple of crucial innings for RCB this season and looks like a great prospect for team India in the future. Sarfaraz hasn’t played too many FC games to take his stats seriously. He is just 17 and has few more years to find his feet at this level. His talent is apparent but we need to make sure that he is not rushed to international cricket. Sarfaraz needs few years in FC cricket before he can be considered for Indian team and I hope that he gets there.

Yuzvendra Chahal (FC Bowling: 40.06, LA Bowling: 23.28)

Chahal is a good young leg-spinner who has held his own this season for RCB. The Haryana leg-spinner does not have earth shattering FC record but has a very good LA record. With India looking for a good leg-spin option in shorter format, Chahal can fit the bill. He has great control for the shorter formats and his economy rate of 3.98 in LA games show that he can be miserly as well. A bowler who can pick wickets and also keep the lids on the scoring is a perfect recipe for shorter format. The Indian selectors need to keep a close eye on him for the future as he can be a useful addition to the Indian ODI/T20 bowling line up.

Shreyas Gopal (FC Bat: 34.86, FC Bowl: 23.55)

Okay Shreyas Gopal hasn’t played many games for Mumbai Indians this season. In fact he just played one game at the start of the season and has not been considered again for MI in this season. Shreyas is a brilliant prospect for India in all formats. A leg-spinner with good control, Shreyas provides great variation the Indian team is looking for in the bowling lineup. Not only Shreyas is a good leg-spin option he also has 2 first class hundreds to his name at an average of 35 which makes him a very good option in tests and ODI. I included Shreyas because he is very talented even though we hardly saw him play this season. Hopefully the selectors are keeping an eye out form as he has performed brilliantly for Karnataka in Ranji trophy.

Honorable mention: Anureet Singh (FC Bowl: 26.67, LA Bowl: 23.36) and Jagadeesha Suchith

The above players might get a look in sooner if the selectors are going to send in an experimental squad to Bangladesh earlier next month. There are also others like Sanju Samson, Suryakumar Yadav, Sandeep Sharma and KM Jadav, who are consistent performers for their state sides over the years and have also performed excellently in the IPL who will be hoping to get a look in, in the upcoming tour. It will be interesting to see what team the BCCI decides to send to Bangladesh. The performance of Bangladesh against Pakistan at home would probably sway BCCI to send much more balanced squad this time but again there is scope for some experimentation. It will be interesting to see if any of the youngsters find a place in the ODI team. Sanju Samson, Sandeep Sharma, Anureet Singh and Kedar Jadav will be in the top of the pile as some regulars are expected to miss out.

The IPL season 5 is all set to begin tomorrow in Chennai with a grand opening ceremony. Like in 2011, CSK (Chennai Super Kings) will again start as the favorites. They have been the most consistent team across the seasons with 2 wins, 1 finals and 1 semi-final appearance. The success of the CSK team has been their squad. They were able to retain almost all their key players who made their franchise a grand success. Suresh Raina, Murali Vijay, Mike Hussey, Badrinath and Dhoni have been pillars of CSK batting since season one. Albie Morkel and Dwayne Bravo have fitted perfectly well as the all-rounders in the middle order with Ashwin and Bollinger being the bowling stars.

Ravindra Jadeja has been the only addition to the already strong CSK side. He will probably play in the place of Jakati or Bravo in the squad. The addition of Ben Hilfenhaus will for sure bolster their weak pace attack this season. So overall like all the other seasons, it will be hard to write of Dhoni’s Chennai super kings. They will for be one of the favorites to at least reach the knock-out rounds.

Mumbai Indians (MI) has been the other strong side across the seasons. They were the losing finalists in 2010 and made the semis last year. With Tendulkar stepping down as the captain, this will be a great opportunity for Harbajan Singh to take MI over the line this time. The Mumbai team also has some great batters but their strength has been their bowling. The biggest drawback for the MI team has been their over reliance on Sachin Tendulkar to hold their innings together. The form of Pollard might give some relief to the Mumbai lower order this season.

RCB (Royal Challengers Bangalore) is the other team with an opportunity to win this year. The team is extremely talented and has Chris Gayle in their ranks. The in-form Indian sensation Virat Kohli was the only one retained in the squad from the season 1. The batting in spite of having some good hitters has heavily relied on Chris Gayle to provide them with a blistering start. This strategy of RCB cost them dearly in the finals in 2011. The teams realized that they just had to get Gayle early and they couple pressurize their middle order. They CSK bowlers succeeded doing the same in the one-sided finals last year.

KKR (Kolkata Knight Riders) are the fourth team with a shot at the title this year. The team led by Ghambir had a great 2011 IPL and finally looked like a team playing to their potential. The KKR management completely revamped their side and it worked wonders for the franchise and they will be hoping that their team can go all the way this time too.

The other teams have been hardly consistent and will have to play out of their skins to challenge the top four. The IPL begins tomorrow with a clash between the defending champions Chennai versus Mumbai Indians in the MA Chidambaram stadium. It will be a keen contest but both teams for sure will be little rusty. Even though the tournament is exciting the length of the tournament is definitely a dampener. Hopefully we will see some good young talents coming out at the end of this season.

Deccan chargers with the IPL trophy

Deccan chargers with the IPL trophy

Who would have thought at the start of IPL 2 that DC and BLR will be in the finals? It was just a scriptwriter’s dream as to how these two teams made it to the finals against all odds. The IPL 2 was a big success considering that it was staged outside India. The grounds were full all the time and the support from the South African public was phenomenal. First of all thanks to the people of SA for the excellent support and hope they were entertained.

When the IPL started the favorites were the RR, DD, CSK and Kings X1 to make it to the last four. KKR was the most hyped team and I never thought they had a chance to make it to the semis. When the tournament reached the final stages only DD and CSK fulfilled their potential. The final four was a surprise to everyone when BRC and DC joined DD and CSk.
BRC’s biggest signing of the year KP was the biggest flop for them in terms of both captaincy and a player. The franchise owners should realize that getting expensive international players isn’t going to help their cause. As Dhoni rightly pointed out, teams with good domestic players will have the edge. KKR does not have a good pool of young Indian players and their over reliance on foreign batters cost them heavily. The fact that they had to play 4 foreign players in the top order forced them not to play Langaveldt and Mortaza till the final two games.

The fairy tale ride for BRC began when KP went back to England to face WI and Anil Kumble was made the captain of the team. Anil led by example and bowled beautifully throughout the series and claimed most wickets for his team with a brilliant economy rate. BRC recovered exceedingly well from an early slump to claim a semi-final birth alongside CSK, DD and DC. They unearthed a little gem in Manish Pandey who scored a brilliant hundred and the first by an Indian in the IPL. He is just 19 years old and I hope that he has a great future.

DC though had a different route to the finals. They started off in a brilliant fashion winning their first four games but had a bumpy ride after that. They needed Chennai to beat Kings X1 to assure them a Semi-Finals spot. Their biggest assets were their youngsters like Suman, Rohit (Who even got a hattrick this season) and RP Singh. Adam Gilchrist made the captain this season also helped Deccan a lot as he led them brilliantly and also was their highest run getter.

DD and CSK though will be very disappointed with their Semi-Finals effort and both the teams lost pretty easily in their respective games. Batting deserted both DD and CSK when they needed the most and the tags of favorites also probably put lots of pressure on the youngsters. DD relied heavily on foreign recruits for their batting as Sehwag and Ghambir were not in great form. CSK though had Matthew Hayden in brilliant form at the top, followed by Raina, Badri and Dhoni who were a great supporting act. All in all it was a brilliant season for the tournament favorites but they will be really disappointed with their efforts in the Semi’s.

The final though was played between probably the worst two teams of 2008 edition of the IPL. It was a brilliant game and both the teams fought tooth and nail for the trophy and finally Deccan Chargers emerged victorious by a whisker. Chasing 144 to win in the finals on that pitch should have been achieved by the BRC batters but the constant pressure applied by the DC bowlers caused them to lose wickets at regular intervals.

All in all it was a brilliant tournament and in terms of cricketing standards, it was better than IPL 1. The games were closer and so was the tournament. 7 teams had a chance to get in to the semis till the last week. Bowlers had more of a say this time. Totals over 200 was achieved only once this year and totals under 120 was defended successfully twice.

Congrats again to Deccan for the brilliant win and also to Adam Gilchrist who led by example and sparked a great turnaround for the franchise.

How things can change in couple of weeks in cricket. I wrote an article couple of weeks back about DD and DC dominating the IPL2, but while DD are still at the top of the rankings, DC is fighting with the rest of the teams for the Semi-Finals spot. CSK have been the biggest movers in the last few weeks. They have now won 5 games in a row to move to the second place behind DD.

CSK have got the right combination going with Jakati and Tyagi being great additions to the team. Batting at the top has been firing for them and the bowlers are doing their job. CSK have almost got themselves at the door for the semi-finals spot. They have 4 games to go and 1 or 2 wins will ensure them a spot in the semi-finals. The only concern for the CSK is their fielding. They have dropped awful lot of catches in the tournament and almost lost the game against Kings X1 due to their bad fielding.

Dhoni was quick to acknowledge the same. They gave an improved performance against the Rajasthan Royals over the weekend but they have a long way to go in that respect. Batting has been phenomenal with Hayden at the top doing wonders for them with great support from Raina, Badri and Dhoni. Bowling has been adequate with Murali doing well with Balaji, Tyagi, Jakati and Morkel doing the support act. All in all it has been a brilliant week for the Dhoni’s men. I hope that they lift the trophy this year.

Delhi has continued their brilliant run in the competition with couple of wins over the past week and has done well without Sehwag. Ghambir has captained the team well and David Warner has done the job for them in the absence of Sehwag. Their bowling also has been consistent with Nannes and Nehra doing a brilliant job at the top and Mishra doing a good supporting act. I would like to see McGrath getting a game in the competition. Probably they can rest Nannes for a game and give McGrath a go as Delhi are almost a certainty for the semi-finals spot.

The Rajasthan Royals though have had a good week too. As I am writing this article they are playing Deccan Chargers in an important game. RR have won 3 and lost 1 over the past week and are currently sitting at number 3 in the rankings. Batting has been the biggest worry for the RR’s and Shane Watson pulling out due to injury would have been a big setback for them. RR though has found a good opening partner for Smith in Naman Ojha. He has been consistent and has looked good. RR though is still to find a consistent playing X1. They are also well placed for a semi-finals spot at this moment.

DC though has had a bad week. After four wins on the trot, they have just won 1 out of the next 5 games. They are barely hanging on to the top four at this moment with Kings X1, Mumbai Indians and BRC breathing down their neck. With KKR totally out of contention, it’s between, Punjab, Mumbai and Bangalore to compete to get to the top four this week.

Bangalore play KKR tomorrow and a win would place them in top 5 and a shot to push for the semi-finals spot this week. All in all it has been another fantastic week in IPL2 with constant changes in the ranking with every game. The top spot has changed at least 3-4 times over the last week which shows how close all the teams are this year. I am happy as my team has finally captured the form which got them to the finals last year and I hope that this year they go one step further.


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