IPL2 has now reached the semi-final stage.
Bollywood has been kicked out as Priety Zinta (Punjab), Shah Rukh Khan (KKR) and Shilpa Shetty (Rajasthan) head home along with the land of Bollywood itself (Mumbai)!
What’s left behind is real cricket sans the glitz and packaged entertainment from Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Delhi; three teams from the South of India and one from the capital city! Make of all of that what you will.
A few weeks back in my IPL-2 Preview, I had predicted a Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai finals. We almost got that! Mumbai has been my major disappointment of the season. Bangalore was almost fading away until Kumble came on the scene. He transformed the team into winners and showed — as he has done all through his career — that Shane Warne is not the only magician in town! Except that Kumble has always chosen to perform his magic without the glitz!
Rajasthan just did not have the team to make the semis this year. Without Sohail Tanvir and Watson and with a struggling Graeme Smith, they were always going to struggle. They did.
As Shane Warne said, in his characteristic flourish, “Mate, the only positive thing to emerge for me at this year’s IPL might be my blood test!” They have a lot of work to do in the off-season.
KKR have issues aplenty. The coach and his entourage has to go in my view. Their season was derailed by Buchanan from the start of the campaign and it did not recover from there on in. We had a fake-IPL player
reveal itself as a shadow yesterday! The revelation compelled Shah Rukh Khan to launch into an explanation in elementary physics! He said, “Shadows … being merely negative projections that are created due to a light source being blocked by an opaque object, have no … qualms!” Phew! I also think that their captaincy was in the wrong hands. But I tell you what? Having one lousy captain was a darned sight better than having 5 lousy captains on the field, each trying to outdo the others’ mistakes! On completion, KKR skipper, Brendn McCullum (in reference to the “shadow” fake-IPL player) said, “I suppose this is the first time that a shadow has thrown light on something. Heh heh!” KKR have a heck of a lot of work to do in the off-season too. And one of them would be to ask if Ganguly’s time is completely up!
Punjab have issues too! They need a right-handed batsman in the team! And the captain has anger-management problems! He said, “Well, actually it is getting the worst out of me. I am getting very angry on the field, I don’t know why.” They have a lot of work to do if they want to challenge consistently good teams like Delhi and Chennai.
Mumbai was the biggest disappointment for me. With Jayasuriya, Tendulkar, Duminy, Malinga, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan and Dwayne Bravo in the team, they were an early pencil for me for the last-4 berth! That list above was a set of 7 constants in every team that took the park! That is a fantastic starting card for any team to have in its armoury! All they needed to do was to fire up a wicketkeeper (and they had Pinal Shah and Takawale to chose from) and three local boys — and in Abhishek Nayar, Ajinkya Rahane, Dhawal Kulkarni and Rohan Raje, they had all that they needed! But they blew chance after good chance through a mix of bad captaincy, bad decisions and poor play. I do think Sachin Tendulkar needs to sit down with Mukesh Ambani and re-think his captaincy role!
Chief Mentor Shaun Pollock said at the end, in what I think is a brutally frank assessment, “We’ll look at the positives. Our captaincy was positively puzzling, and our batting was positively ridiculous.”
So that leads us to the semi-finals. I would be very surprised if it is not Delhi Vs Chennai. But I’d also be quite happy to be surprised!