Daily Archives: 15 April 2009

IPL-2: A Preview…

The second edition of the IPL will now be played in South Africa. Matches will commence at odd times in South Africa to coincide with peak TV audience times in India! Eight teams and all their hangers-on will now be based in various cities around South Africa.

One wonders why Egypt or Russia were ruled out as IPL-2 hosting-country choices! It is fair to say that we (at i3j3Cricket) haven’t been great fans of the IPL’s relocation — away from the people that made IPL-1 such a success! We even wondered out aloud whether India was capable of hosting “major events”!

It will be interesting to see if IPL-2 is as successful as IPL-1.

Be that as it may. The second edition of the IPL will go ahead as planned. If some fans had trouble identifying with a specific team in IPL-1, their difficulty has suddenly increased by an order of magnitude this time around! I can’t see a fan in Nagpur or one in Bowral zeroing in easily on either the Kolkatta Knight Riders or The Rajasthan Royals (say) — they won’t know whether their team is going to be based in Durban or Pietermaritzburg!

Either way, eight teams will line up to face each other barely 3 days from now. The Cricinfo site — one of the most frequently used and updated cricket portals/sites — still says that the games are going to be played in Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi! It is just symptomatic of how Indian cricket is organised and run! Things will fall into place at the last minute, one hopes!

Time to assess the teams and see which one has the potential to come through:

Rajasthan Royals:

No one expected the Royals to come out victorious in the finals last year. They did, thanks to some Shane Warne magic! I did not rate them last year. I do not rate them this year! Without Shane Watson (likely call up for Australia ODI duties) Kamran Akmal and Sohail Tanveer, they are short on a few options. I’d be surprised if they make the semi-finals. if this team does make the semi-finals, it might be due to some Shane Warne magin once again! Shane Warne talks highly of uncapped Kamran Khan, a left-arm seam bowler they picked up from a Mumbai bowling competition/camp.

Below is a possible list of 22 players that the Royals might pick in batting order — with names of possible replacements for each “role” in brackets, remembering that only 4 “foreign” players can play in any team in a match.

Edited on 16 April 2009 in view of the news that Mohammed Kaif and Dinesh Salunkhe have been “let go” by the Royals! This is most surprising. Kaif did not exactly set the world on fire in IPL-1, but apart from his leadership qualities — apparently he was Warne’s go-to man in the team in IPL-1 when he wanted to communicate to some of the younger players who did not perhaps know enough English — one would have thought that he had it in him to make strong contributions to the team! Suddenly, this team looks even weaker to me!

Likely team (22 players):
1. Swapnil Asnodkar, 2. Graeme Smith (Shane Watson, Rob Quiney, Justin Langer), 3. Mohammad Kaif, Raiphi Gomez 4. Niraj Patel, 5. Yusuf Pathan, 6. Ravindra Jadeja (Dinesh Salunkhe), 7. Tyron Henderson (Dimitri Mascarenhas, Morne Morkel), 8. Naman Ojha (Mahesh Rawat), 9. Shane Warne, 10. Lee Carseldine (Shane Harwood, Shaun Tait), 11. Munaf Patel (Siddharth Trivedi, Kamran Khan, Amit Singh)

This is a bits-and-pieces team. I think their weaknesses are #1, #3 and #11 with an additional unknown on the wicket-keeping slot! That is one too many question marks for my liking. From a Team India point of view, it will be interesting to see how Shane Warne whips Munaf Patel into shape in season-2 of the IPL.

Note: Amit Singh’s name was included in the above list after a comment from Chandan in the comments section of this post.

Chennai Super Kings:

Like every other team, CSK has also announced a 25+ member team. I have no doubt this will be trimmed down. I have only taken into account the cohort of players that I think will play in the final mix! Some of the 29-member CSK squad will probably watch the IPL from the comfort of their living rooms! I predict big things of the Chennai outfit in IPL-2. I won’t be surprised if they meet either Mumbai or Delhi in the finals.

Likely team (23 players):
1. Srikkanth Anirudha (Murali Vijay, Abhinav Mukund), 2. Matthew Hayden (George Bailey), 3. Suresh Raina, 4. Subramaniam Badrinath, 5. Andrew Flintoff (Michael Hussey, Jacob Oram, Vidyut Sivaramakrishnan), 6. MS Dhoni (Parthiv Patel), 7. Albie Morkel, 8. Palani Amarnath (Manpreet Gony, Joginder Sharma), 9. Lakshmipathy Balaji (Sudeep Tyagi), 10. Ravichandran Ashwin, 11. Makhaya Ntini (Muttiah Muralitharan, Thilan Thushara) [Coach: Stephen Fleming]

The success of this team will, I think, depend on how the max constraint of 4 overseas players is used. Other than that success will depend on #1 and #8. I do think, however, that there are several sound options and alternatives for each of these two ‘vulnerable’ positions. The rest of the team has a very settled look to it. I therefore rate the chances of CSK quite highly.

Note: Again, thanks to a comment by Chandan, I have included Vidyut Sivaramakrishnan’s name in as a replacement for the #5 “role”. This is because Andrew Flintoff will leave the team in 2 weeks and there is a question mark over the participation of Michael Hussey and Jacob Oram.

Mumbai Indians

Of all teams that did not make it to the big league last year, the most surprising omission was the Mumbai Indians! I did expect them to make the finals of IPL-1. But through a combination of poor form, a rudderless ship, an unfortunate post-match slap and through Sachin Tendulkar’s absence, their season never quite took off. I expect bigger things from this team this year. They have a stronger team this year and have made some smart acquisitions in the break (Zaheer Khan, Duminy, to name two). I expect them to make the semi finals.

Likely team (22 players):
1. Sanath Jayasuriya, 2. Sachin Tendulkar, 3. Ajinkya Rahane (Shikhar Dhawan, Saurabh Tiwary), 4. Jean-Paul Duminy, 5. Abhishek Nayar, 6. Luke Ronchi (Yogesh Takawale, Pinal Shah), 7. Ryan McLaren (Graham Napier, Dwayne Bravo, Mohammad Ashraful), 8. Harbhajan Singh (Chetanya Nanda, Jaydev Shah), 9. Zaheer Khan, 10. Dhawal Kulkarni, 11. Dilhara Fernando (Lasith Malinga, Kyle Mills)

This is a well balanced team. I suspect that their success will be determined by how number 3, 5, and 11 fare in the above list. If the team plays the first named in the above list, it could have as many as 9 bowlers. That is, if Sachin Tendulkar is included as one of these bowlers. These would be Fernando, Dhawal Kulkarni, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Ryan McLaren, Abhishek Nayar, Duminy, Tendulkar and Jayasuriya. Provided Fernando (or his ‘replacements’, Malinga or Mills) bowl well, this is a strong bowling team. Provided Rahane and Nayar click as batsmen, this could turn out to be a really strong team.

One somewhat unfortunate selection is that of a wicket-keeper as an overseas player. Luke Ronchi is a terrific player and I rate him really highly. In matches that he plays, either Sanath Jayasuriya or an overseas bowler has to make way for him. If Jayasuriya sits out in games that Ronchi plays, the ‘keeper can open the innings. He is an explosive bat in the jayasuriya mould. In matches that Ronchi sits out, Takawale or Pinal Shah could keep wickets.

Given its overall balance, I rate Mumbai very highly in IPL-2.

Delhi Daredevils:

This team flattered to deceive last year. They started strongly and then faded away as the competition progressed. It has a strong look to it, especially with their off-season recruitment of Dirk Nannes and David Warner. Moreover, with Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir being in such explosive recent form there will be a battle to see who opens for this team. Opposition bowlers should reach for their prayer beads prior to grabbing the ball! This team should be disappointed if they do not reach the semi-finals.

Likely team (22 players):
1. Gautam Gambhir, 2. Virender Sehwag, 3. David Warner, 4. Mithun Manhas (Manoj Tiwary), 5. Rajat Bhatia, 6. Paul Collingwood (AB de Villiers, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Owais Shah), 7. Dinesh Karthik, 8. Andrew McDonald (Dirk Nannes, Farveez Maharoof, Daniel Vettori), 9. Yo Mahesh (Ashish Nehra, Aavishkar Salvi, Pradeep Sangwan, Umesh Yadav), 10. Amit Mishra, 11. Glenn McGrath

In my view, the teams’ success could depend on #4, #5 and #7. The team has some excellent overseas players and it is likely that several of them will be with the team for almost the entire duration. So, much will depend on how these players are used and rotated.

Overall, this looks like a well-balanced team with some explosive batsmen and some sound bowling options. One of the reasons I fancy Delhi (apart from the top-3 batsmen who would drive any T20 nut into bouts of salivation — is because most of their players are available more or less through the tournament. Once Collingwood (and perhaps Owais Shah) leave, they will have de Villiers settled in for the long haul!

I certainly expect Delhi to make the semi-finals and perhaps even reach the finals — perhaps along with Bangalore!

Kings’ XI Punjab:

This team performed much better than I thought it would in IPL-1. It is, in my view, a slightly over-rated team! I’ll be surprised if they make the semi-final cut this year.

Likely team (24 players):
1. Shaun Marsh (Luke Pomersbach), 2. Tanmay Srivastava, 3. Karan Goel (Sahil Kukreja), 4. Mahela Jayawardene (Simon Katich), 5. Yuvraj Singh, 6. Kumar Sangakkara (Uday Kaul), 7. Ravi Bopara (Yusuf Abdulla, Burt Cockley), 8. Irfan Pathan (Ryan Ninan), 9. Brett Lee (James Hopes, Jerome Taylor), 10. Ramesh Powar (Piyush Chawla, Sunny Sohal), 11. VRV Singh (Ajitesh Argal, Wilkin Mota)

This is another team that has 5 o/s players in the list included and presented above and that is because of the presence of Sangakkara. In matches that Sangakkara plays, I suspect that one of the other o/s players will have to sit it out. I suspect that that might be Shaun Marsh (with Sangakkara opening instead). In matches that Sangakkara sits out, Uday Kaul could keep wickets.

This team has too many question marks for my liking. I do not believe it has the right mix of overseas players. With Sreesanth’s injury and with the likelihood of Brett Lee’s early departure, the backup is just not there in my view.

Bangalore Royal Challengers:

This is a team with the maximum number of players on its list prior to being trimmed. I suspect that the list will be trimmed drastically and soon. Even after an initial cull, I am left with 27 players! I have only included in the list below those that I think will make the final cut.

The Royal Challengers was touted as a Test Team in IPL-1. It was a Test team.

Thanks to a few off-season purchases and one clever transfer, the team looks set for a better showing in IPL-2. I have a feeling that the team will make the semi-finals along with Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi with the Rajasthan Royals being the dark horses (again!). Time, as they say, will tell!

Likely team (27 players):
1. Jesse Ryder (Wasim Jaffer, Bharat Chipli), 2. Robin Uthappa (Jagadeesh Arunkumar), 3. Rahul Dravid (Gaurav Dhiman), 4. Kevin Pietersen (Ross Taylor, Jacques Kallis), 5. Virat Kohli, 6. Mark Boucher (Shreevats Goswami), 7. Cameron White (Roelof van der Merwe, Dillon du Preez), 8. Praveen Kumar (Balachandra Akhil, Vinay Kumar), 9. Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Pankaj Singh, Tinu Yohannan), 10. Dale Steyn (Nathan Bracken), 11. KP Appanna (Anil Kumble, Sunil Joshi)

I quite like the balance of this team. I can’t see too many weak spots. The teams’ overseas purchases and the acquisition of Uthappa has plugged some glaring gaps. As I said earlier, the team ought to be very disappointed if it doesn’t make the semi-finals.

Like the Mumbai Indians (Luke Ronchi), Punjab (Kumar Sangakkara), Deccan Chargers (Adam Gilchrist) and Kolkatta (Brendon McCullum), Bangalore has also gone for a ‘keeper as an overseas player. This is why I have included five o/s players in the above list for Bangalore.

However, I suspect that Boucher will play or not depending on whether or not Jesse Ryder is used as the opener. Sreevats Goswami, the backup for Boucher is quite solid anyway. I suspect that if Jesse Ryder plays Goswami will ‘keep wickets instead of Boucher. In games that Boucher plays it is likely that Bharat Chipli may open (or Goswami may play as an opener-batsman)! So that may have worked out well for this team.

I would be most keen to see how Bhuvneshwar Kumar goes in the IPL. Last season, he handed Sachin Tendulkar his first duck in domestic cricket in India. He has a nippy action and had a wonderful domestic season last year.

As I said earlier, I don’t see too many weaknesses in this team other than the fact that Pietersen is only available for 2 weeks! Don’t be surprised if this team meets Chennai in the finals of IPL-2!

Kolkatta Knight Riders:

The team looked good on paper in IPL-1. They lost their way. It looks like the team has already lost its way before IPL-2 commences, with signs of infighting or confusion. Chief Coach, Buchanan wants a team full of captains. Perhaps he thinks that a team with “Many Chiefs and No Indians” will work?

Despite its on-paper strength, I’ll be surprised if this team makes it anywhere near the semi finals.

Likely team (24 players):

(Edited on 18 April to record McCullum as captain, replacing Sourav Ganguly. With Ganguly no longer the captain and with McCullum declaring he will open, this opens up a few possibilities and tweaks in the batting order. It is no longer necessary for Ganguly to play all games. Hence the order below sees a change!)

1. Chris Gayle, 2. Brendon McCullum (Wriddhiman Saha, Sheldon Jackson), 3. Sourav Ganguly, 4. Cheteshwar Pujara, 5. Brad Hodge (David Hussey), 6. Gnaneswara Rao (Aakash Chopra), 7. Moises Henriques (Mark Cameron), 8. Laxmi Shukla (Sanjay Bangar, Ajit Agarkar), 9. Ishant Sharma, 10. Ashok Dinda (Murali Kartik, Saurasish Lahiri, Iqbal Abdulla), 11. Ajantha Mendis (Mashrafe Mortaza, Charl Langeveldt, Angelo Mathews)

It is a bit of a mixed bag really. I am not too fond of the look of this team, although they did well by picking up Moises Henriques in the off-season. The team has 5 o/s players in the above list. Again, this will depend on whether McCullum is a keeper/opener or ‘keeper with Gayle opening the batting. For me, however, #6 and #8 are big risks in this team. Investing in Shukla, Bangar and Agarkar does not a T20 competition make!

However, if some of the overseas players in this team click early, we could be in for a bit of fun with McCullum, Gayle and Hodge in the mix! I feel that Brad Hodge is one of the best T20 batsmen going around and it looks like the KKR will have him keep the teams’ company for a long time in IPL-2. It will also be a first sighting of Ajantha Mendis for a lot of the players in the IPL. However, I somehow doubt that this team will make it to the semi-finals. I would be happy to be surprised though.

Deccan Chargers:

The Deccan Chargers commenced IPL-1 as the favourites. The team had a delicious line-up that included Herschelle Gibbs, Adam Gilchrist, Andrew Symonds, Rohit Sharma, V. V. S. Laxman and Shahid Afridi. Some would have said that that was a dream line-up! However, this was another team that promised a lot, delivered little and then bickered through the off-season.

In the fall-out of all of that, Laxman was replaced by Adam Gilchrist as captain. I am not sure that will make too much of a difference to this team. But I rate them as an outside chance of making the semi finals because of the presence of Gilchrist, Gibbs, Rohit Sharma and Symonds.

The teams’ weak-link is its bowling and in an attempt to bolster that department, the team invested in Fidel Edwards and Dwayne Smith in the off-season. These were not what one would call inspired picks! I’d have expected them to battle hard for an Andrew Flintoff or hit the transfer market hard. But then they sat on their fingers instead!

Likely team (20 players):
1. Herschelle Gibbs (Chamara Silva), 2. Adam Gilchrist, 3. D. Ravi Teja, 4. VVS Laxman, 5. Rohit Sharma, 6. Andrew Symonds (Ryan Harris, Scott Styris), 7. Venugopal Rao (Arjun Yadav), 8. Fidel Edwards (Dwayne Smith, Chaminda Vaas, Nuwan Zoysa), 9. RP Singh, 10. Pragyan Ojha, 11. D. Kalyankrishna (P. Vijaykumar, Shoaib Ahmed)

There are too many weaknesses in this team. Much like KKR, this team has invested far too much in the talent pool from its catchment area. The team has many such unknown players that I have left off the above list. I also feel that it hasn’t invested wisely enough in its overseas recruits to plug some glaring gaps in its pace bowling stocks. I have a feeling that Ravi Teja will have a good IPL-2. He is an attacking opener who might have to come in at #3 because of the presence of Gilchrist and Gibbs/Silva as opening options. But he is an attractive player and is one to watch.


Overall, it should be interesting to see how IPL-2 pans out. I do not believe it will be as exciting as IPL-1 but I’d be most happy to be proved wrong. I expect the 4 semi-finalists to be Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore — with Rajasthan being a dark horse in all of this.

— Mohan