The 4th Edition of the IPL started with much less fanfare than earlier versions. A few mostly rotund men and women strutted their stuff for a brief period before the first game got under way. We did not see too much of the chest-thumping openings of previous editions. This was quieter. Instead of Lionel Ritchie, we had some Raghupati Raghav Rajaram or some such performer, whose name I didn’t quite catch — appropriate, considering a Gandhian was fasting at Jantar Mantar, in Delhi, at about the same time.
Unlike the opening ceremony of IPL3, which was witnessed by a clutch of A-list celebrities, IPL-4 got off to a much more subdued start. Perhaps that has more to do with the fact that Chennai is mostly under-stated when compared to Mumbai, the venue for the opening of IPL3. However, I strongly suspect that the sober start had more to do with the fact that, after a horrible year, the IPL itself must rebuild and re-establish itself.
In an article in The Age today, Peter Roebuck tears into the IPL. He will be lampooned and castigated for this article. India fans will hate him for his rant and tirade. But I do not believe he is getting stuck into India. As far as I know he loves Indian cricket. He loves India. That does not necessarily mean he has to accept all things India. He is a cricket purist and to him, the IPL is everything cricket should not be.
His article contains too many doomsday scenarios for me to accept it too seriously. Sample this: “Cricket is finished as an international game. It faces a long and slow decline caused by an international cricket board that lacks vision and integrity, a board of knaves and fools that makes one-star decisions while staying in five-star hotels.”
And he gives away his biases completely when he writes, “Through no fault of the ICC’s admirable employees…”. Eh? Since when did the ICC have admirable employees?
Nevertheless, it is clear that, after a torrid year, the IPL must repair the wounds caused by its successes and its excesses. And these wounds must heal appropriately. Perhaps last year was the “norming” that was necessary in the storming-norming-performing cycle. Who knows? But this must be a year of quiet re-establishment for the IPL, if it is to be anything more than a spark that fired once and briefly.
In last nights’ opening game, Chennai Super Kings manage to get through… just, against a strong Kolkata Knight Riders. KKR presented a a new team, a new captain, a new year. However, the same-old Kolkata Knight Riders mindset meant that the South Africans now look like kindergarten students in the School of Panic.
Today, we see two matches.
Deccan Chargers Vs Rajasthan Royals
Unlike CSK, The Deccan Chargers team has a very different look to previous years. The players I am most looking forward to seeing is Daniel Christian. I’d like to see why he was worth $900,000 when a proven player like Manish Pandey could command no more than $40,000!
Unfortunately, I look at the Deccan Chargers team and say, “Who are some of these guys?” In previous editions, Deccan were at best “They Can”, but certainly not “They Will”. Mostly because their Indian players were not quite there. That problem seems to persist. However, with a strong bowling line-up, it is likely that they will do much better this year.
Possible Deccan team:
DB Ravi Teja / S Sohal / AS Yadav
JP Duminy / KP Pietersen
DT Christian / CA Lynn / J Theron / CL White / Dale W Steyn
Harmeet Singh / B Chipli
Others: A Ashish Reddy, Anand Rajan, Ankit Sharma, AA Bhandari, KH Devdhar, IR Jaggi, I Malhotra, JN Shah
The Indian player strength of this squad is really quite weak in my view. As a result, despite a strong bowling attack, it could be a struggle for Deccan.
Rajasthan Royals have always believed in making ordinary talent do some extra-ordinary things. This year’s team appears to stick to that Royals tradition.
Aakash Chopra (Shane Watson is not available for the first few weeks)
AL Menaria / AM Rahane / FY Fazal
Pinal Shah (wk)
J Botha / Jacob Oram
DL Chahar / Siddharth Trivedi /
Pankaj Singh / STR Binny
Others: Amit Singh, AA Chavan, AP Dole, ND Doshi, SM Fallah, S Narwal, AG Paunikar, , AS Raut, D Salunkhe, DH Yagnik
Kochi Tuskers Kerala Vs Royal Challengers Bangalore
The evening game today between KTK and RCB promises to be a cracker.
The Kochi team has a reasonable balance to it. Again, it is likely that the pace bowling stocks in this team will be largely Indian.
M Klinger / BB McCullum
Tanmay Srivastava / VVS Laxman
Brad Hodge / Thissera Perera / Owais Shah / Steve Smith
M Muralitharan / John Hastings / SNJ O’Keefe
R Vinay Kumar / B Akhil
Others: DA Chougule, Y Gnaneswara Rao, RV Gomez, KM Jadhav, C Madan, SH Marathe, P Padmanabhan, Yashpal Singh
The Royal Challengers have retained a look-and-feel that is not too different to their image from IPL-2 and IPL-3. They have pinned a lot of their hopes — as they have in previous editions — on South African players. This may have been motivated by availability considerations.
CA Pujara / MA Agarwal
TM Dilshan / Luke Pomersbach / JJ van der Wath / JD Vandiar
AB de Villiers
CM Gautam / Mohammed Kaif
Dirk Nannes / ANPR Fernando / CK Langeveldt / RR Rossouw
Others: KB Arun Karthik, BN Bharath, RR Bhatkal, AA Kazi, R Ninan, AUK Pathan
Do not be surprised if RCB make the finals. This is a strong team. There is dash and solidity to the batting and there are some strong bowling options too. Most of the players will be with this team for the entire duration. So this team should start working together towards the middle part of the tournament. I like the balance in this team. The composition above means that de Villiers will have to ‘keep in every game. RCB do not have any other keepers in their roster. This can’t be a bad thing. With de Villiers and Vettori (as captain) playing all games, this leaves just 2 other overseas-player spots to pick — a batsman and a bowler. These choices are clear. The local talent that works around this selection is also strong.
More fun and merriment. Four more team previews to go and then we will be done with the previews.
– Mohan (@mohank on Twitter)