Friday, May 22, 2009

IPL 2......the final four !!!

So IPL 2nd edition is now at the last stages, with semifinal slots decided.

Its Delhi Dare Devils vs Deccan Chargers Hyderabad on 22nd May, ie today for the 1st semis & tomorrow it is going to be between Chennai Super Kings vs Royal Challengers Bangalore in the 2nd semis. Both the matches promise to be a humdinger of a contest, with each one of these four teams having the necessary arsenal & think tank to cross over to the finals & take a pot shot at the coveted trophy.

The Delhi Dare Devils have been the most consistent of all the teams till now. Their batting is now looking superlative with Sehwag & Gambhir along with David Warner running into form at the top of the order. With AB DeVilliers & Dilshan along with Karthick & Manhas managing the middle order, the batting looks unending & murderous. In the bowling, Dirk Nannes, Pradeep Sangwan, Ashish Nehra & Mahroof are hitting the deck with pace & bounce, getting wickets regularly, with able support in spin from Amit Mishra & Daniel Vettori. Imagine having to keep Glen McGrath in the extras. The team looks extremely balanced & capable of taking away the glories. The only worry has been the complacency that has crept in from time to time & they will need to guard against this especially at this time of the tournament.

Last year's finalist, Chennai Super Kings have been the best team on paper thus far & under the super cool Dhoni, the team has been quite steady in reaching the semis. At the top, there is the murderous Hayden who has been extremely consistent with his hittings & has been owning the orange cap as the top scorer since almost the beginning of this edition of IPL. He along with Parthiv Patel or George Bailey are sound at the opening slots. Middle order is brilliantly manged by Raina, Badrinath, Dhoni, Albie Morkel & Jacob Oram. If Mike Hussey also comes into the squad now, the batting looks deep & strong enough to chase any scores or putting up imposing totals upfront. The bowling looks rock solid again in the hands of Morkel, Murali, Sudeep Tyagi, Oram & Balaji, with unexpectedly brilliant support from Raina, with his wicket to wicket spins. The team looks good to be in finals once again, & as last year's winning team's Captain Warne puts in, CSK are the favourites to take away the IPL this year.

Royal Challengers Bangalore continue their dream run, & surprise everyone with 8 wins till now in the tournament. They have beaten the best of the teams, when no one gave them a chance, & under the captaincy of Anil Kumble, the team looks a menacing lot. The batting has been revolving round ageless Kallis at the top. With Taylor, Boucher, Dravid Merwe & Virat Kohli anchoring the middle order, there has been a sensation find in Manish Pandey, who scored a breathless century in the last match against DCH, the first Indian ever to do so in IPL till now. The batting has been able to chase down imposing totals & has a quiet confidence in its applications. In the bowling, Kumble has been leading from the front along with able assistance from Akhil, Praveen Kumar, Appanna, Dillon Preez, Merwe & Kallis. However, bowling looks a little low on depth & batting has sometimes struggled at the top. However, as a resurgent team, RCB are a dangerous lot, & should not be taken lightly at all. The acid test is now for them against the CSK in the semis.

Deccan Chargers, last year's laggards are the boom boom team this year. They have looked a solid team both on paper as well as in the field, & that has been very well exemplified with their march to the semis. Gilly & Gibbs at the top of the order have been in devastating form. However their good starts have been messed up at times by the middle order, out of sheer panic or overconfidence, & they have lost quite a few games ike this. The middle order has rich talent in Dwayne Smith, Rohit Sharma, T Suman & Venu Rao & are now further strengthened by Symonds, who has just joined in & has been in blasting form. The bowling is working like a well oiled machine with RP Singh at the top with the purple cap, as the leading wicket taker till now. He has good support from Pragyan Ojha, Symonds, Harris & Suman. However absence of Fidel Edwards hurts them at the top of the bowling, & may well be the reason any poor show ahead.

Last year's winners Rajasthan Royals did not look the team they were last time, though they came quite close to reaching the semis, losing out to KKR in a crunch match, as the batting let them down sorely. Warne had been inspirational as a leader, but lacked depth to pull the team through. Much in the same light, last year's semifinalist, Kings XI Punjab, made a mess of things when it mattered the most & paid the price by losing out of the race. Mumbai Indians flattered to decieve & KKR had enough of inhouse problems to perform on the field.

Let us look forward to some good cricket from the top four teams ahead & may the best team win.