Tag Archives: Twenty20

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.

Emerging Talent makes IPL special

I call myself as a cricket fanatic. Give me any cricket game and I will watch it. It may be a International game or a domestic game or even a club level game, if it’s on TV then I will give it a go. It’s just the love for the game which drives me and not the level at which it is played. So IPL is something which I cannot let pass. Who wouldn’t want to see legends of the game all under the same roof? Even though I don’t agree with the elaborate and boring format of the tournament overall but watching young Indian players locking horns with International stars is something which makes IPL special.

Franchise based sport is new in India and it will take a little time to catch on. The American style will not work in India as the country has a national team which is playing throughout the year. So the Indian fans will be mostly loyal to the Indian team rather than Chennai or Mumbai or Kolkata. The fact that the teams are shuffled every three years also makes it hard for the fans to relate to their teams. You suddenly have Rohit Sharma playing for Mumbai Indians while he was playing for Deccan Chargers in the previous editions.

For me watching IPL is an avenue to have a look at future Indian prospects. It’s an opportunity for the youngsters to get noticed. This year has thrown some interesting names too. There were some known names that reaffirmed their status and there were some new names too. The biggest impact this year was made by two cricketers, one was Paul Valthathy and the other was Rahul Sharma.

Paul Valthathy did an excellent as an opener for Kings X1 Punjab this season. He was explosive and impressed one and all with his stroke play. He even held the orange cap for the while during the course of the tournament. Now we have to wait and see if he is a one tournament wonder (Asnodkar, anyone?) or if he would back up these performances in the domestic arena. The other standout performer was Pune Warriors Rahul Sharma. The young leggie who fought a career threatening injury to stage an inspiring comeback to competitive cricket was absolute joy to watch this season. A bowler of Anil Kumble mould was brilliant and one of the most economical bowlers of the season. He was the only shining light in an otherwise disappointing season for Pune Warriors. The other bowler to impress was Varun Aaron of Delhi Daredevils. Varun bowled with extreme pace and troubled the batsmen with bounce. It was unfortunate that we did not get to see more him in this IPL. I just hope that he keeps working on his bowling and hopefully will get selected for team India sooner than later if he maintains his consistency.

Ajinkya Rahane and Manoj Tiwary were others who impressed with the bat. Both these youngsters are rated highly by the experts and we got to see why during the course of the IPL. The others such as Iqbal Abdulla of KKR, S Aravind of RCB and Abu Nechim of Mumbai Indians impressed in the IPL 4.

There were few comeback stories too. RP Singh and Ishant Sharma made a great comeback after being out of radar for the Indian team selection. Ishant was brilliant with his bowling and it seems like he has regained his pace and control which he had lost about a year back. He has been rewarded with an Indian call up for the upcoming West Indies tour. RP Singh too was brilliant for Kochi Tuskers. He bowled with pace and troubled the batsmen with movement of the pitch. I hope that he continues on this trail and makes a comeback to the national side in the near future. The others who were consistent among bowlers were Ashwin, Mishra, Bajji and Munaf, all of whom will be travelling to West Indies earlier next month.

In the batting front, Subramaniam Badrinath was rewarded for having a brilliant domestic season and for performing brilliantly for CSK in the current IPL. His selection for the West Indies tour was a great reward for his consistency. Rohit Sharma also continued his great form in IPL and we have to wait and see if he can translate that form to International cricket. The biggest disappointment of the season was Irfan Pathan, who albeit returning from an injury was way off color with both bat and ball. He did bowl some good spells but lacked consistency with the ball. Ambati Rayudu was brilliant once again for Mumbai but Saurabh Tiwari was unable to replicate his success from last year for Royal Challengers Bangalore.

All in all IPL 4 was great as it threw some new names into the mix of youngsters. Even though these names add lots of spice for the future we have to keep in mind that IPL performances cannot be considered as a yardstick for national team selection. I guess this just gives the selectors a list of names whose progress needs to be followed in domestic cricket. All these players are extremely talented but performance in domestic cricket and “A” tours need to be given more importance for the Indian team selection. IPL 4 has been great for the new talent but I am still disappointed with the franchises reluctance to try out young players. A tournament which began as platform for young talent has just become a money making exercise. The teams are mostly interested in playing established International stars. Players like Varun Aaron did not get enough opportunities due to the same reason. Even though long, IPL 4 has been good viewing this year and if the organizers can cut the tournament little shorter we might actually have more people interested in the same.

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.

Sports updates 1 – India bounced out once again, Armaan sizzles in Morocco

Since I have not posted for a while I decided to compile all the happenings in the sports world in a single post. I have decided to split this into two parts.

World T20 – Bounced out once again

Indian batsmen were sitting ducks against short pitched bowling in the recently concluded World T20

The Indian team cut a sorry figure in the recently concluded World T20 as they were bounced out yet again two years in a row in the super 8 stage of the championship. This year was an exact replica of the 2009 edition in England where the Indian team failed to win a single game in the second stage of the tournament. The batsmen looked sitting ducks against the pace of the Australian and West Indian bowlers and handed the games without a fight.

The performance of the Indian batsmen was baffling to say the least as they very well knew what to expect after their experiance in England last year. Raina, Sharma, Pathan and Ghambir struggled last year in England against short pitched stuff and they repeated the dose once again in West Indies. The bowling was bad a usual as except for Harbajan Singh everyone else was either unfit or inconsistent. The team selections were confusing and the fielding appalling.

This year’s exit was made even worse when the team coach lashed out against few players calling them unfit to play any form of cricket. The coach Gary Kirsten even said that he was fitter than few players in the Indian team at 42. And there was also a report of few players engaging in a pub brawl after their defeat against Sri Lanka. All in all it was another pathetic ICC World event for India under Dhoni. The silver lining though is that India has chosen a young team under Raina to participate in the tri series in Zimbabwe and I hope that we unearth some good players in that series.

Formula two – Armaan sizzles in Morocco

Armaan Ebrahim was brilliant in Morocco as he finished 6th in both the races

Armaan Ebrahim finished 6th in both the races in Morocco to cap off a brilliant race in the 3rd and 4th rounds of Formula two championship. Armaan’s top 6 finishes was despite the fact that he did not do that well in the qualifying as he finished at 8th and 11th respectively. With a brilliant performance in the Morocco leg of the championship he currently sits at 7th in the overall championship race.

Ajith Kumar also had a good race in Morocco as he finished identical 13th in both the races. Ajith would be really happy with this performance as he was able to finish 4 races in a row and would like to improve on his standings in the upcoming races starting with Monza on the 23rd of May. Parthiva Sureshwaran though had a mixed round 3 and 4 as he finished 11th in the first race and had to retire in the race 2.

All in all it was a good performance from the Indian contingent and it seems like we are not that far away from a podium finish. Please visit Formulatwo.com for the latest updates on the Monza race.

Chennai Super Kings the deserving champions

Chennai Super Kings win the IPL III defeating Mumbai Indians

Two semi-finals and one final appearance later Chennai Super Kings lead by Dhoni won the IPL title defeating Mumbai at D Y Patil stadium in Mumbai. It was a brilliant win by CSK as they were almost down and out half way through the tournament. Credit has to be given to the captain and the support staff along with the players who showed tremendous mental fortitude to script this turnaround.

For Mumbai though this was a day of mistakes as dropped catches and poor decisions with batting order punctuated their performance in the finals. Sachin Tendulkar will be really disappointed as Mumbai Indians were the best side in this IPL. Even though I was happy to see Chennai Super Kings win, I was really sad to see Sachin in the losing side. But in the end Dhoni’s captaincy and Chennai’s superior fielding was the difference between the two sides.

When Dhoni won the toss and elected to bat everyone knew that Chennai had the upper hand as teams chasing at the D Y Patil stadium had struggled in the past. The Chennai batsmen started cautiously with Hayden’s continued struggle at the top of the order and with Vijay having to do the bulk of the scoring. But the real push for the Chennai innings came when Dhoni joined Raina at the middle as they both hammered the Mumbai bowlers to set up a competitive total. Mumbai Indians did not help themselves as they fluffed two chances both of Suresh Raina and the Chennai batsman made them pay with an unbeaten 57 of 35 balls.
When Mumbai began their chase in the pursuit of 169 to win the IPL III crown Doug Bollinger and Ravichandran Ashwin choked them for runs. Bollinger sent Dhawan early and Sachin along with Nayyar forged a decent partnership but the run rate was well within control for the CSK. Murali, Ashwin and Jakati were difficult to get away and the Chennai fielders put lots of pressure on the Mumbai batsmen. Even though Keiron Pollard’s late flourish gave some hopes to MI chances, Chennai Super Kings won the game comfortably by 22 runs in the end.

It was a brilliant display by the Chennai team which was brilliantly led by their cool captain Dhoni. Stephen Fleming the coach of Chennai Super Kings also deserves a special mention along with the other support staff. Chennai was helped by the arrival of the Aussie Doug Bollinger as his presence in the team provided the much needed potency to the bowling attack. Dhoni’s decision to open the bowling with Ashwin turned out to be the masterstroke as the youngster responded brilliantly to finish as the most economical bowler of the IPL III. Suresh Raina as usual was brilliant and the turnaround of Vijay from a correct player to a swashbuckling opener was amazing. Badri was consistent and Anirudha Srikkanth played couple of crucial knocks in the end. Murali and Morkel should not be forgotten as they both contributed handsomely towards the CSK progress throughout the tournament.

Dhoni was brilliant with the bat and was very shrewd with his captaincy. Even though Chennai was not the best team in IPL III but they were the most consistent team across the three IPL’s. They were for sure the most deserving champions in IPL.

CLT20 – IPL Teams Review

Adam Gilchrist and Anil Kumble in a press conference ahead of CL T20

Adam Gilchrist and Anil Kumble in a press conference ahead of CL T20

The inaugural CL T20 began yesterday with Bangalore Royal Challengers taking on the Cape Cobras from South Africa. CL T20 has been touted as the first global domestic league and has received lots of press. The Challenger trophy event which is being played simultaneously has almost gone unnoticed. The Challenger trophy for me is more the measure of a young talent than the Bang Bash CL T20. Anyways keeping that aside lets analyze the IPL teams participating in this event and how they stack against the rest.

Bangalore Royal Challengers:

Touted as the Test X1 as opposed to a T20 team in the first edition of IPL, they surprised one and all by entering the finals in the second edition. Yesterday they played the Cape Cobras and put up a decent show. BLR scored 180 batting first only to be defeated by a great innings from Jean-Paul Duminy who remained unbeaten on 99. Bangalore team is a mix of youth and experience but very light on bowling. Yeah they have Kumble but he doesn’t bowl often these days and if they don’t choose Steyn then their bowling is pretty thin. Kallis has not had a great time with the ball in T20 and Praveen Kumar does not have the pace to trouble the batsmen in the final overs. It seems like the bowling depends too much on Steyn and Kumble. Batting wise they have some exciting talent. They have Ross Taylor, Virat Kohli, Manish Pandey (Scored the first hundred by an Indian in T20) and then experience with Rahul Dravid, Kallis, Uthappa and Boucher. But when you compare BRC with the rest of the teams in the competition, it will be a surprise if they make it to the final stages.

Deccan Chargers:

They are the winners of the IPL 2 and have a balanced lineup. The team has fire power in batting as well as in bowling. The bowling has pace with Edwards and batting has Adam Gilchrist and Andrew Symonds. They will do okay in the competition if they bat well. RP Singh has been in a really bad form which means that they have to play Vaas in his place. The spin department will be taken by Pragyan Ojha who has been great whenever he played for the country. But one thing noticed in the IPL 2 was that their bowling lacks consistency and they rely too much on Gilchrist to get them off to a flier.

They will miss Hershelle Gibbs in CLT20, who was one of the main contributors in the IPL 2 for DC. Even though they have some good youngsters in the middle order, their chances squarely rest on how Adam Gilchrist plays. That probably might be a big disadvantage for the team. Rohit Sharma off course will have to play a major role along with Venugopala Rao. I guess they have the fire power to make it to the semis, more so than BRC.

Delhi Daredevils:

Probably the best team among the three IPL entrants in the competition. Explosive batting and a good bowling lineup makes DD one of the favorites where ever they play. Batting comprises of Sehwag, Dilshan, Ghambir, Devilliers and also Dinesh Karthik. The batting is solid and the bowling also is pretty solid with Nannes, Nehra, McGrath (If he plays), and Mishra. So that sums up the squad pretty much. The batting has quality and aggression and bowling has consistency and pace. Sehwag is making a return to competitive cricket after a break and would want to get back to his groove before the all important series against the Aussies. Ghambir newly named as the captain of the Daredevils has been in fantastic form. Dilshan has been explosive over the past year and has played some blinders for SL in that period.

The bowling also has pace with Nannes, consistency with McGrath and Nehra and spin will be in good hands with Mishra. All in all DD have the best chance of reaching the finals of the three IPL entrants in this competition. They play Victoria later today and I hope that they start their campaign on a winning note.

That pretty much ends my analysis of the three IPL teams in the competition. I would have personally preferred youngsters like Kohli playing in the challengers rather than in the CLT20 but thats my opinion. I hope the youngsters in the teams take this as an experiance and pick the brains of the stalwarts they are privileged to share the dressing room with. Dhoni pretty much summed up the T20 leagues after India’s CT exit when he said “T20 should not be the yardstick for the team selection”. So I dont think this is going to help any youngster to improve their skills but can be used as a experiance to play against the best in the world.

IPL – CSK and BRC throw the tournament open

As I write this article, CSK have just thumped DC to register their 3rd consecutive victory in IPL2 to move to top position in the table. The last one week has been brilliant for BRC and CSK as they have shrugged of the indifferent form to get back into the tournament. This IPL is much closer than last year and it seems like any of the 7 teams (KKR excluded) can make it to the Semi-Finals.

This was a disappointing week for the Deccan Chargers as they have had 3 poor games in a row now. Their batting has failed and their fielding also has let them down. Dropped catches and misfields have cost them dearly in the last few games. Delhi Daredevils have also had couple of losses in a row now. Their batting let them down on both the occasions.

Sehwag and Ghambir haven’t fired yet for them and that is costing DD a lot in IPL 2. DD though would be really happy with the debut of Australian David Warner as he made a brilliant 50 against the CSK over the weekend.

The other team on the rise is BRC. BRC were the worst team in the first edition but this time they seem to have found the right combination. They thrashed Mumbai Indians by 9 wickets yesterday to register their 3rd consecutive win and fourth overall to reach the top 4. Kallis seems to be in great form and with Dravid back in the side and Boucher firing in the middle order they seem to be serious contenders for the semi-finals spot. Uthappa also came back to form with a brilliant 60 odd against the Mumbai Indians.

Mumbai Indians and RR though have had mixed results over the last one week and are also in the running for the semi-finals spot with 3 wins and 3 losses. MI had their batting to blame against the BRC yesterday and it seems like they rely too much on Sachin and Jayasuriya to give them a good start. Kings X1 Punjab have also had a good tournament so far after losing their first 2 games. They have won 4 out of the next 5 games which puts them at 2 spot currently on the table behind CSK.

KKR are languishing at the bottom of the table and have had another poor week. They haven’t won any games in the past week and look like the only team who don’t have any chance of making it to the Semis. Their biggest problem has been their batting. Ganguly and Mccullum have been the biggest offenders. Brad Hodge has been consistent and with Chris Gayle going back to resume his National duties, it’s going to get tougher for them. The good news though for them is that David Hussey might be back for them this week as Aussies have wrapped up the ODI series against the Pakistanis.

There will be few Aussies who will return to join their franchises this week. Brett Lee will join Kings X1 and Shane Watson will join the RR. These two will be the biggest in terms of the effect they can have on their respective teams. Shane Watson is in brilliant batting form and is a good bowler and his return will give Shane Warne a big relief.

All in all it’s been another brilliant week of cricket with lots of close games. I am happy as my team CSK is doing great.