Tag Archives: Rajasthan Royals

Mid-Table scrum makes IPL V interesting

The IPL V is nearing the Play-offs and we are yet to determine the 4 semi-finalists. The competition this year has been extremely close and we are still unsure of the two teams who will join Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Delhi Daredevils (DD). KKR and DD are without doubt the two strongest teams in the competition. They have won most of their games and have qualified for the play-offs. Both the teams have been excellently led by their respective captains and have a very good bowling attack. The rest of the teams though have been involved in an absolute fight for the final two spots. Let us look at the teams with a chance to make it to the play-offs.

Mumbai Indians – Mumbai Indians are the other strong team who has had a mixed IPL. They have managed to win 3 of their last 4 games and are probably closest to the play-offs with 5 games in hand. Mumbai Indians have struggled with their batting. They have heavily relied on Rohit Sharma and Sachin Tendulkar to get them over the line on most of the occasions which has been their undoing. Probably the induction of Dwayne Smith in the middle order might give them the required spark.

Rajasthan Royals – Rajasthan Royals are the other team who have risen above their underdog status and have posted a serious challenge to the play-offs spot. Shane Watson and Shaun Tait in the playing X1 have given them the required balance and are currently looking like a strong squad.

Royal Challengers Bangalore – The major issue for RCB this season has been their bowling attack. In spite of having Murali in their squad they have been unable to play him due to the squad composition. They have often conceded 170+ totals this season which has greatly affected their batting performance. Their batting too has been highly inconsistent. The heavy reliance on Chris Gayle and AB De Villiers has been striking this season but with Dilshan stepping up to the plate in the recent games things might finally look up for the 2011 finalists. It will be interesting to see if they manage to play Murali in the squad who in spite of taking 8 wickets in 4 games finds himself in the sidelines.

Chennai Super Kings – The defending champions probably have had their worst season by a distance. The team has struggled to find the right combination throughout. Their batting has failed to find consistency and their inability to finish off close games has been the bane for the team from the south. They still have 4 games in hand and are currently looking at winning all the games if at all they want to make it to the play-offs. Things aren’t looking that rosy for the two time champions.

Kings X1 Punjab – They are yet another team who started as an underdog but have far surpassed the pre-tournament expectations. They are currently place 5th on the table with a very good chance of qualifying for the play-offs. In the absence of their captain Adam Gilchrist, David Hussey has led the team admirably well and with the addition of Azhar Mahmood they look a good squad capable of defeating anyone on their day. They have a good bowling attack and are looking good to challenge the top teams this season. It will be interesting to see what their combination would be when Gilchrist returns.

This has probably been the first season where the competition has been so close. There are just few games to go and we are still not sure of the semi-final line up. All the teams mentioned above have a great chance of making it to the play-offs. The teams cannot afford a slip up anymore and the captains would be aware of that. The next few days will be extremely interesting and could decide the fate of most of the teams.

IPL V – Youngsters watch

The IPL every year gets exciting not for the matches but for the young talent on display. Last couple of years we have had talents like Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav, Ravi Ashwin, who have already made the transition to the senior side. Let us look at my top 5 young players of the IPL so far. I have only considered players who have gotten limited opportunity at the national level and players who aren’t known that well before this season of IPL.

AM Rahane (Rajasthan Royals)
(Runs: 332, Ave: 47.42, SR: 140.67)

AM Rahane has already represented India at the senior level. He has already played a handful of T20 and ODI games for India and has been fighting for that elusive spot in the Indian middle order. Rahane has been a rare case in Indian cricket in recent times who has not thrown into the limelight due to his IPL exploits. Much like Pujara who made the team on the basis of consistency in domestic cricket he too has forced the selectors to take a look at him with some brilliant batting in Domestic cricket. Rahane representing Rajasthan Royals has begun this season brilliantly becoming the highest run getter so far this year. His batting has been a treat to watch with his silken drives and orthodox cricketing shots. You hardly see him slogging yet he has scored at an amazing strike rate of 140.67. The more I look at him the more I am convinced that he should make the Indian squad soon. Rahane is the only batsmen in the list and he is been brilliant and it shows that there is clearly a day light between him and the rest of youngsters in India at the moment.

Nadeem S (Delhi Daredevils)
(Wkts: 6, Ave: 21.16, SR: 21.0, Econ: 6.04)

A young left-arm spinner from Jharkhand is another player who has impressed this season. Playing for arguably the strongest team this season Delhi Daredevils Nadeem has been able to exert control in the middle overs and PP overs chocking batsmen for runs. S Nadeem has been an integral part of DD squad this season as he has been extremely economical and has picked up crucial wickets for his side. Nadeem for sure has time one his side and probably needs to be looked at more closely. His economy rate at this year’s IPL is an amazing 6.04 and seems like he is more suited to the shorter format of the game.

P Awana (Kings X1 Punjab)
(Wkts: 9, Ave: 12.67, SR: 10.67, Econ: 7.25)

Awana is yet another Indian pacer who has impressed with his pace and wicket taking ability this season. He has already become an integral member of Kings X1 set up and has done exceedingly well for them. With 9 wickets already this season he is one of the top wicket takers in initial part of IPL V. Awana is a bowler who can consistently bowl over 140 K and maintain decent line and length. His wicket taking ability is a great asset and hopefully he can last the entire season without injuries. Awana is from Delhi and has a decent first class record with a good strike rate. He is another good addition to the Indian pace bowling list and with good performances in domestic scene might come into the radar of the selector. He is another Indian pace bowler to keep an eye on for the fans.

AB Dinda (Pune Warriors)
(Wkts: 8, Ave: 13.37, SR: 13.5, Econ: 5.94)

Dinda is not a new name for the Indian fans. He has been in radar for few years now but has hardly received consistent chances at the highest level. He has been performing brilliantly for his state side Bengal over the years and has been one of the best bowlers this season in the IPL. He did receive his chance in the Asia cup earlier this year but had two contrasting performances. He has been excellent for Pune Warriors so far and has carried their attack this season without much support. His economy rate proves that he hasn’t been easy to get away in the power play overs and he has also picked up wickets regularly. He has been very good with the old ball too as he proved against Pakistan in the high scoring encounter earlier this year in Bangladesh. He has been a vital member in the Pune Warriors squad and hopefully will continue to churn in good performances this season. A good season here might earn him a call back to the Indian squad.

S Dhawan (Deccan Chargers)
(Runs: 208, Ave: 41.60, SR: 126.82)

S Dhawan is probably someone who seems to be around for ages but yet he is only 26 years old. He has been a solid performer for Delhi and has had some good performances in the IPL over the years. Playing for Deccan Chargers this season he has been very good at the top of the order. He did play for India in few games and the one noticeable aspect of his game was his inability to convert good starts. In this IPL season too he has had similar issues kicking on after a start. He has had some good starts for Deccan but has failed to convert them into big scores. Dhawan again is a good young player who could not get into the Indian squad due to the embarrassment of riches at the top of the order. He has once again had a great start to this season of IPL and would want to keep performing to get the selection committee to notice.

Honorable mention:

KP Appana (Royal Challengers Bangalore)

The rest of the young brigade has been largely disappointing. Sourabh Tiwary (RCB), Mayank Agarwal (RCB), Ashok Maneria (RR) Manish Pandey (PWI), Rahul Sharma (PWI) and Ambati Rayudu (MI) all have been extremely inconsistent. All of them have made some crucial contributions to their sides but have not been consistent enough to make the list. Ambati Rayudu and Sourabh Tiwary have been the biggest disappointments. After a great season in the IPL in 2010 both the players had a forgettable 2011 and it seems like they have carried the bad form again to 2012 season. Even though Rayudu just played a blinder against Kings X1 to take his side home, he has been largely inconsistent. Hopefully this innings will help him to get back to form and stake his claim for the national side once again. The tournament has just begun and any of the above mentioned players can turn it around for their respective sides.

Even though T20 isn’t the right format to judge the capability of a player, these guys have put in their best efforts to get noticed. You can only perform in the stage given to you. These players have not only done well in T20 but have very good first class record to go with it. This means that they have only further emphasized their stature with some good performances in IPL. Performing well in the IPL means that you get noticed instantly and it for sure enhances your chances of getting picked for the national side.

No locals for the IPL teams

IPL V is in its first few games and again the teams find it hard to find nativity. Even though IPL is an interesting competition, the length is still a worry. The one and a half month tournament is sure to take a toll on the fans.

But the length of the tournament aside the major concern for me this year has been the team composition of the franchises. The teams have basically ignored the local talents in the team in search of glory. I thought that IPL was going to be used as a ground for nurturing and finding young talents but as the years passed by the franchises have gotten greedy. For example Ranji champions Mumbai are unable to find players from the Mumbai team to represent their IPL franchise Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan is even worse as they don’t even have a single local player representing them. The Pune Warriors does not have anyone from Maharashtra/Mumbai team in their X1 in the first game against Mumbai.

Rajasthan has been the worst offender off all the IPL teams. The franchise is been completely made up with Rest of India and the mandatory foreign players but there is no sign of any home grown talent. Ashok Maneria seems to be the only local boy in the Rajasthan Royals team. This I feel is ridiculous and shows how much money hungry the franchises have become. Mumbai Indians play just 2 players out of 8 in their team from the Mumbai team and Deccan Chargers somehow manage to play just one or sometimes 2 local players in their team. How do they expect locals to relate with the team if the entire team is made up of players from different teams? I am not against young Indian players getting a chance but ignoring local players takes away the charm of a city based rivalry.

Ranji teams like Maharashtra might have some good players and need to be explored and I hope that Pune Warriors team gives them a chance in the upcoming games. Creating a city based league is fine but forming a strong team with best talent across the country and the world was not what IPL promised us at the start. BCCI have to think to promote small teams and players. They do not get too much coverage. Rajasthan Royals and Pune Warriors seem to be the biggest offenders this year. The teams should be forced to play at least 2 home players in each team. It is not as if Rajasthan have a poor Ranji team.
This is the exact reason the IPL teams will find less success in the champion’s league. If you take Rajasthan and Pune for example, except for the 4 weeks of IPL none of their team members play together in any form of cricket unless they represent India. Entire year they play against each other and they are suddenly thrown together and are expected to gel as a team immediately. They will be playing teams in the CLT20 who play an entire year together and are more cohesive units in comparison to the IPL teams. The locals who play for team Rajasthan in Ranji trophy might actually feel little hard done by this situation. Teams like them who compete in the plate championship of the Ranji trophy hardly get any visibility with the selectors and a global tournament like the IPL should be used to showcase their talents.

Even though the tournament has been a success and is here to stay, the organizers need to look to correct the above glaring anomalies.

IPL 2011 Auction– Sourav’s Snub and Kumble’s wise decision

The IPL “Tamasha” auction just concluded last weekend and the biggest surprise of all was non inclusion of Sourav Ganguly. Sourav was one of the high profile players who found no takers at the auction. West Indians Brian Lara and Chris Gayle were the others to not find any bidders. Sourav who was an icon player for his home side Kolkata Knightriders for the first three seasons was not retained by his franchise. He entered this year’s auction with a base price of $400,000.

The biggest surprise was the lack of interest in one of the greatest captain’s of the Indian team. He did not have a bad IPL III either. Kolkata who did not retain him also did not make an attempt to get him back in the auction. I would say that it would have been a very bitter pill to swallow for Sourav and I don’t think he deserves such treatment. There have been lots of money shed over few players who I feel have been extremely lucky as some of them haven’t played any form of cricket for a long time.

Sourav’s snub should rank as one of the worst in the IPL till date. Being one the greatest players for the Indian team he deserved better and I hope that he gracefully exits the IPL scene. I do not want him to accept any sort of coaching opportunities presented by Kolkata owners as the damage has already been done.

Rahul Dravid and Laxman who also weren’t retained by their respective franchises were extremely lucky to have been picked up by the Rajasthan Royals and Kochi respectively. . Anil Kumble though made the wisest of choices as he decided to pull himself out of the auction at the last moment. He might have had to play for a different state team which probably he might not have wanted or he probably thought that he might also be snubbed in this auction so wanted to stay ahead of the game. Not exactly sure what the reason behind his decision was but it was a brilliant one. He has been made as the “Chief Mentor” for his former franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore.

With most of the teams already settled, it’s sad to see that Sourav Ganguly had to bow out this way as a player from the IPL. I am not sure if he would continue playing domestic cricket either. For all the laurels he had brought to the team India, he for sure needed a better send off. The Kolkata team owner Shahrukh Khan in an attempt to pacify the angry Sourav fans offered him a management position but I am not sure if Dada would be interested in the same. The damage has been already done and a severe blow has been dealt, so accepting a coaching role would only add insult to injury.

World T20 squad and India’s future bowling options

Ashoke Dinda was one of the few Indian pacers to impress in IPL III

The Indian team for the World T20 was announced couple of weeks back and there was hardly any surprises in the squad. Vinay Kumar got his maiden call up to the national team, a reward for his excellent performances in the domestic arena. Piyush Chawla too gets a call up ahead of Ojha and Mishra as the second specialist spinner in the squad. The rest of the team picked themselves.

The fact that Ashish Nehra makes it to the squad right after a prolonged injury break with hardly any practice proves how much the selectors are deprived of options. Praveen Kumar the other pace bowler in the squad has been pretty ordinary in the IPL after few good games at the start. Mithun and Tyagi have been pretty disappointing in the IPL and don’t look like T20 bowlers, similar to Ishant. Ishant himself has been pretty ordinary for the past couple of years.

So we are going into the world cup with two world class bowlers in Zaheer Khan and Harbajan Singh, one debutant, one bowler coming back from injury and one bowler making a comeback into the team. The selection pretty much emphasizes the problem we have with the bowling. So basically the selectors have done the best they can with the limited resources at their disposal.

But heartening thing is that after a pretty bad beginning by the Indian bowlers in the IPL III the second leg has showcased some good young bowlers. Ashoke Dinda of KKR, Sid Trivedi of Rajasthan Royals, Harmeet Singh of Deccan Chargers and Umesh Yadav of Delhi Daredevils have all impressed with their bowling at crucial junctures for their respective teams. The spinners also have been on song like Ravichandran Aswin, Pragyan Ojha and Jakati have been fantastic throughout the tournament.

So it seems we have some gas left in the tank after all. The problem is tapping the talent and giving them breaks at the right time. Bowlers like Mithun and Tyagi should not be ignored either. More than having talents at your disposal, knowing when and how to give them chances are important. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the bowlers and using them appropriately is something the selectors have to look into.

Even though the bowling looks thin for India in the World T20, I am happy that the selectors at least tried something different by giving a break to Vinay Kumar.

IPL III report – No locals and no home games

Pankaj Singh from Rajasthan signed up by the Royal Challengers does not find a place in the Rajasthan Royals squad

IPL III is in its third week and with the race for semi-final spot heating up every game seems like a knockout for the teams. Even though IPL as a competition has been interesting this year, the length is still a worry. It already feels like too long and I am not sure how we will feel next year with 94 games.

But the length of the tournament aside the major concern for me this year has been the team composition of the franchises. The teams have basically ignored the local talents in the team in search of glory. I thought that IPL was going to be used as a ground for nurturing and finding young talents but as the years passed by the franchises have gotten greedy. For example Ranji champions Mumbai are unable to find players from the Mumbai team to represent their IPL franchise Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan is even worse as they don’t even have a single local player representing them.

Rajasthan has been the worst offender off all the IPL teams. The franchise is been completely made up with Rest of India and the mandatory foreign players but there is no sign of any home grown talent. This I feel is ridiculous and shows how much money hungry the franchises have become. Mumbai Indians play just 2 players out of 8 in their team from the Mumbai team and Deccan Chargers somehow manage to play just one or sometimes 2 local players in their team. How do they expect locals to relate with the team if the entire team is made up of players from different teams? I am not against young Indian players getting a chance but ignoring local players takes away the charm of a city based rivalry.

This is the exact reason the IPL teams will find less success in the champion’s league. If you take Rajasthan for example, except for the 4 weeks of IPL none of their team members play together in any form of cricket unless they represent India. Entire year they play against each other and they are suddenly thrown together and are expected to gel as a team immediately. They will be playing teams in the CLT20 who play an entire year together and are more cohesive units in comparison to the IPL teams. The locals who play for team Rajasthan in Ranji trophy might actually feel little hard done by this situation. Teams like them who compete in the plate championship of the Ranji trophy hardly get any visibility with the selectors and a global tournament like the IPL should be used to showcase their talents.

The other issue is the curious case of Deccan Chargers. Due to the political issues in Andhra currently the Deccan Chargers are playing at other venues which are currently proving to be a disadvantage for them. While rest of the teams has received excellent local support for their home games Deccan have struggled in that regard. Deccan have played both their games against Mumbai Indians in Mumbai which is ridiculous I feel as whom do you think the Mumbai crowd will support in a matchup between these two teams? I feel that Deccan have received a pretty raw deal with the fixtures.

Even though the tournament has been a success and is here to stay, the organizers need to look to correct the above glaring anomalies.

DD and DC rule in IPL 2

IPL 2 is in its second week now and as I write this article DD are playing RR in their 5th game. Well it cannot get more contrasting for the last year’s champions as they are struggling to find their magic. The Rajasthan Royals led by Shane Warne have found winning hard this year and have struggled with their batting. The tournament has been similar for the last year’s finalists Chennai Super Kings too. For them it’s been their bowling which has deserted them this year. They have had couple of close losses but still languish somewhere near the bottom of the table along with RR, and BRC.

Royal Challengers though continued their horrible run this year too. Yeah they started with a win over RR this year contrary to their start in IPL 1 but since then it has been downhill for KP’s side. KKR too have been ordinary this year and found winning tough. Buchanan’s multiple captain theory received lots of flack from the media and experts and did not help the team spirit I guess. Their over reliance on Chris Gayle and Dada was clearly evident in the first few games.

The biggest improvement of this year has been the Deccan Chargers who have found the right combination at last. They were at the bottom last year with the BRC but are leading the table this year after the first 4 games. Their batting lead by their captain Gilchrist is clicking and their bowling led by RP Singh is doing great. They have been brilliant till now in the competition and have posted good wins till now.

Delhi Daredevils have also been brilliant this year and have continued their good form from last year. Their batting has been brilliant and their bowling has been okay defending their totals. Devilliers and Dilshan have been their stars till now in the competition. It seems like them along with DC will be in the Semi-Finals this year.

Finally Kings X1 Punjab have had mixed results in this year’s competition. Semi-Finalists last year started off with two losses in IPL 2 but won their last two games to end up behind the top two. They have a good side too with Yuvraj, Sangakkara and Mahela forming the crux of their middle order.

Well all in all the bowlers have found it easy on the South African pitches and the batting has not been that easy. The fact that there have been no 200+ score till now in the competition says a lot about the pitches which have been good cricketing surfaces. Targets of 130 have been successfully defended and have made this year’s competition interesting for the viewers.

The oldies have come to the party in SA. Warne, Kumble, Hayden, Sachin, Dravid, Gilchrist have all made significant contributions to their respective teams breaking the notion of T20 being young man’s version. All in all IPL 2 has been fantastic with closer games and fantastic crowds. Hope the same continues in the coming weeks.