IPL-2 has just crossed the 1/3rd mark and I thought that an assessment would be appropriate.
IPL-2 has been a surprising hit in many ways. I did not quite expect the South African public to embrace IPL-2 as much as it has. There is no doubt in my mind that IPL-2 would have seen more live audiences in India. However, I must say I am somewhat staggered by how the locals have taken to IPL-2. While grounds have not been full, it does surprise me that the locals would troop in the grounds in such large numbers to see a Mithun Manhas or a Azhar Bilakhia or a Rob Quiney bat or a Shadab Jakati or a K. Appanna bowl! It just goes to show that if a right product is packaged in a right manner, consumers will queue up to buy it!
At the end of Game #22 (Chennai Super Kings v Rajasthan Royals), the IPL-2 Points table is:
|Kings XI Punjab||5||2||2||0||1||5|
Yesterdays’ matches #21 and #22 have actually helped make the points table more “even” and tightly spaced. Delhi’s win (against Deccan Chargers) and Chennai’s win (against Rajasthan Royals) have meant that Deccan Chargers have been hauled back from running away with it. It has also meant that Chennai has kept themselves in contention in the middle-pack.
For me, the early winners are Deccan Chargers and Delhi Daredevils. Of these, the Deccan Chargers has been the surprise. While I had predicted a good season for the Delhi team, the Deccan Chargers have been hugely benefited by some solid bowling performances by R. P. Singh and Pragyan Ojha. Of course, the Deccan team has benefited from the explosive form of Herschelle Gibbs and Adam Gilchrist. Interestingly, the Delhi team has benefited more from an all-round showing and have performed well despite the fact that Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir haven’t really got going. Moreover, the team hasn’t needed Glenn McGrath or David Warner yet! So watch out for this team. Delhi seem to have more left in the tank still.
The early losers are Kolkata Knight Riders and the early surprise package in this category has been the team from Bangalore.
I had predicted earlier that the Kolkata team would disintegrate in the face of infighting and the multiple complex theories of John Buchanan. And they have not disappointed us in disappointing us one bit! It is a team in disarray!
The team’s owner has gone back home to India, ostensibly to cast his vote in the general elections. However, on landing, Shah Rukh Khan indicated, “If my team continues to lose like this, I am not going back to South Africa. I will go only when they play well and win.” Surely it is when the chips are down that the team needs its leaders to stand with them! And therein lies the fallacy of having Bollywood entertainers — who do not necessarily like to have themselves associated with flops and losses — linked with sporting teams, for whom wins and losses are par for the course! Yesterday, the KKR owner was also fighting off claims that he was considering a fireside sale of the asset!
The surprising early loser is the team from Bangalore. I had predicted a good season for BRC and a good start it may well have been. However, the combined and concurrent failures of Kevin Pietersen, Jacques Kallis, Dale Steyn, Robin Uthappa and Virat Kohli have hurt this team. The only silver lining for this team has been the performance of Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble. Both of them have toiled hard although Dravid has just returned to India to be with his wife for the birth of their second child — a baby boy. The team has tried hard but hasn’t been able to lift its game. Time may be running out for this team.
The early disappointment is Chennai and the early surprise is Punjab Kings XI.
I expected Chennai to start more briskly and purposefully than they have and, in direct contrast, I did not expect Punjab to make as positive a start as it has!
For the first time since he started off as a leader, M. S. Dhoni has had a few stern questions asked of his leadership. Several experts have questioned his method and his approach. There has been a level of inconsistency in his approach that makes it hard to explain a few of his decisions. His over-reliance on Flintoff as a batsman is one of them. The over-use of Parthiv Patel is another. The under-use of Badrinath is baffling just as his non-use of spinner Ashwin despite having him in the playing XI!
A few weeks on from when I previewed the IPL-2 season, I said that the semi-final line-up would be Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore with Rajasthan as dark horses.
A few weeks into the tournament, some tables have turned and I am inclined to say that the semi-final line-up ought to include Delhi and Deccan! There are two places up for grabs and Chennai, Punjab, Rajasthan and Mumbai seem to be lining up to grab two of those spots. At this early stage, it might be a bridge too far for Bangalore and Kolkata, although funnier things have happened in cricket.
These first two weeks have set up the tournament nicely and given the close bunching of the points table, it makes the rest of the tournament that much more interesting.