IPL Preview – Part 1Ganeshbabu Venkat |
With the IPL returning to India after their African safari last year, here is Cricket Web’s two part preview of the teams featuring and how they are expected to fare. Part one features defending champions Deccan Chargers, runners-up from last year Bangalore Royal Challengers and the losing semi-finalists from last year Chennai Superkings and Delhi Daredevils.
It was a classic case of rags to riches for the Deccan Chargers,finishing last in the 2008 edition and becoming the champions in 2009.Boasting two of the most expensive and explosive players, Andrew Symonds and Adam Gilchrist, Deccan Chargers rose from their dismal 2008 campaign to clinch the title in the 2009 edition.Their bowling was the key in winning the championship ably supported by their batting, The bowling which looked inept and lacked penetration and depth in 2008 suddenly came alive with R.P.Singh and Pragyan Ojha taking over the mantle and being amongst the wickets. The raw pace of Fidel Edwards was also a handful for the opposition.Left arm fast bowlers Chaminda Vaas and R.P.Singh would lead the attack this time and should be a handful. The absence of Edwards should be compensated by their US$ 720K big purchase of the exciting young Bajan Kemar Roach.
Chargers learnt a lot from their debacle in 2008 and under the coaching of Darren Lehmann improved by leaps and bounds in 2009. With only a handful of players bought from the auction this time the one name that stands out is Kemar Roach of the West Indies, who is an excellent prospect,but the jury is still out on him for ODI’s and T20’s where he has been rather inconsistent and has proved to be expensive. Given their batting is overly dependent on Adam Gilchrist and Andrew Symonds one wonders if they might have missed a trick by not romping in the ICC’s # 1 ranked All-Rounder Shakib-Al-Hasan of Bangladesh who was available for a very low price tag. Their batting looks promising with the Aussies Gilchrist and Symonds, India’s Rohit Sharma and the Protean Herschelle Gibbs. These four were the top- performers for the chargers last year. Venu Gopal Rao was another one who showed patches of consistency and helped them win the tourney. All of them are in decent form and should be able to replicate their last year’s performance.In all this VVS Laxman is completely a forgotten man.
With Scott Styris out, Dwayne Smith of West Indies should be taking the all rounder’s spot.Smith’s penchant for hitting big sixes and the live wire he is on the field, he should provide them with some firepower down the order and also turn his arm over when needed. Ojha should provide the spinning option and has shown enough to suggest that he has the talent to unsettle good batsman. However there is this sneaky suspicion that there would too much pressure on Gilchrist and Symonds to deliver every time. It will take a bold man to write off a team consisting of Gilly and Symonds but chargers will be hard pressed to repeat their heroics from last year and it would be a huge surprise if they reach the semi-finals and would be a huge shock if they go on to defend their title.
Players to Watch: Adam Gilchrist, Andrew Symonds, Kemar Roach and Rohit Sharma
Bangalore Royal Challengers
Resembling a Test team with cricket’s technically accomplished batsmen trying to come to terms with the shortest form of the game Bangalore surprised everyone by being runners-up last year. Rahul Dravid, Jacques Kallis, Shiv Chanderpaul and Wasim Jaffer did not set anyone’s pulse racing in the last two years. However with Kevin Pietersen taking over the team for the first half of the season and Anil Kumble for the second half and with some change in personnel, they found a new vigor and finished as runners-up to the chargers, with some luck they could have been the champions.They had an excellent record winning eight of the 14 league games.
With Anil Kumble leading the side full time they look solid and spectacular. Kumble injected some much needed energy to the side with his innovative captaincy and his accurate bowling. With Robin Uthappa and the “wall” Rahul Dravid at the top of the order they have the right pair to open a T20 innings with agression and defense. The mercurial Kevin Petersen, veteran South Africans Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher along with the New Zealander Ross Taylor can shore up their middle order. For 225K they probably had a steal in the form of Eoin Morgan.With the presence of players like Cameron White and Steve Smith from Australia and the young guns of India Virat Kohli and Manish Pandey waiting in the wings challengers have a well rounded batting unit with more than adequate bench strength.
Challengers’ bowling looks real impressive with the South Africans Dale Steyn and Jacque Kallis leading the pack alongside Indian all-rounder Praveen Kumar, although they would miss the services of the Australian Nathan Bracken, Who has been in the ICC’s top five bowlers for some time now. With the presence of a large number of South Africans in the squad they are bound to save more runs in the field than any other team.It would be a fairy-tale for Vijay Mallya and his contingent, if they can lift the title that everyone thought would be theirs last time. Challengers are red hot favorites this time around and it would not be a surprise if they go all the way to lift the title.
Players to watch: Kevin Petersen, Dale Steyn, Manish Pandey and Eoin Morgan
Chennai Super Kings
Would third time be the charm? Started as favorites both the years and were unlucky runners-up in 2008 and lost in the semis in 2009 and I dare say they are the team to beat this year. On paper they have one of the most devastating batting line-ups with Matthew Hayden,Mike Hussey,Suresh Raina, M.S. Dhoni and Albie Morkel leading the charge. With Justin Kemp added to the mix there is no shortage for fire power. These guys on their day can make great bowling attacks look very ordinary. In Dhoni they have one of the coolest heads as captain and a great finisher to an innings. Their batting looks imposing to set huge totals and chase down any target with considerable ease.
Their bowling looks very well balanced with Makhya Ntini, leading the attack with his fellow Protea Albie Morkel. Young Sri Lankan turk Thissara Perera would be hard pressed to fill Andrew Flintoff’s shoes, although with the omnipresent Muttiah Muralitharan they have an attack with more than thousand international wickets under their belt, add to that CSK are coached by the astute Stephen Fleming, who engineered some magical moments when he was the kiwi skipper. If there is an area of concern, it would be their fielding with a number of veterans in the side. Nevertheless their strength in the batting and bowling should mask any shortcomings in the field.
The presence of vastly experienced international cricketers and the IPL restriction in place to select only four foreign players, CSK could have a tough time picking their playing eleven for every game. CSK has an embarrassment of riches in both the batting and bowling departments with some talented Indian cricketers like Subramaniam Badrinath,Hemang Badani, Parthiv Patel, Lakshimpathy Balaji and Suddep Tyagi present in their squad in addition to the international stalwarts. All these things suggest that they could go on to win the elusive crown this time.
Players to watch: M.S.Dhoni, Matthew Hayden, Justin Kemp and Albie Morkel
Delhi Daredevils possess the lethal Indian opening pair of Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag. With these two present it was indeed surprising that they could not go beyond the semi-finals in the last two editions, In fact the tag of chokers would suit them perfectly for they were embarrassed in the semis both times by teams they defeated comfortably earlier in the league. Further strengthening their top-order batting this time will be the Sri Lankan Tilakaratne Dilshan, who re-defined limited overs batting with his audacious stroke play as an opening batsman. Add the dangerous left- handed batsman David Warner to the order, they look solid in the top and should provide rich entertainment to the spectators.
Delhi’s Opening pair and bowling was instrumental for most of their wins during the last two tourneys. Their strong middle order of AB DeVilliers, Shikar Dhawan, Paul Collingwood and Dinesh Karthik under-performed and was the main cause for their downfall in many matches during last year. However all the aforementioned batsman are in great nick and should boost their performances. Delhi could find themselves in the same situation as Chennai and their new captain Gautam Gambhir could be pulling his hair to select his playing eleven for every match.
Delhi’s bowling looks a little thin with Pakistan’s Mohammed Asif missing the tournament and Glenn McGrath being bought out by the club, which was a surprising move to say the least. However with Ashish Nehra re-inventing himself as an ODI bowler and the presence of Dirk Nannes should compensate that loss. They will be supported by the young Indian prospects Avishkar Salvi and Pradeep Sangwan. The absence of the affable kiwi Daniel Vettori is a huge blow as well. With this said their bowling does not inspire confidence and could prove to be their Achilles heel, I do not see them making the semi-finals. However if Sehwag, Gambir and Dilshan can fire that will be forgotten and Delhi could yet again find themselves in the final four.
Players to Watch: Gautam Gambhir, Virendar Sehwag, Tilakaratne Dilshan and Ashish Nehra