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KKR vs. RCB: The Poor Little Rich Attack

by iplgeek 0 Comments

Chris Gayle made his first IPL fifty in 2 years to give RCB their first win in IPL 2015 (Image from iplt20.com)

On Saturday night, the Kolkata Knight Riders slumped to their first defeat since May 5th, 2014. They played good cricket, but there is little you can do once Chris Gayle has gotten rolling. Even KKR’s famed spin attack – that has been stifling opponents since 2012 – seemed insufficient to take on the Big Jamaican.

I definitely feel that Chris played a major role in RCB’s success, but not in the obvious way. You see, RCB was able to gain momentum and keep the run rate from escalating too high due to the fact that KKR had long gaps of overs where they didn’t have any of their potent bowlers running through overs. And the reason for this can be directly attributed to Chris Gayle. See, Gayle – if you didn’t know – is a left-handed batsman. And most left-handed batsmen, especially those of Chris’ calibre, are known for being able to take on slow orthodox and leg spinners well, because their natural stock deliveries turn into the left-hander. Hence, Gambhir had lost access to two of his main bowlers – Shakib al Hassan and Piyush Chawla – as soon as Gayle had walked out onto the pitch. 8 overs of quality spin down the drain right there. To unlock them, needed to get Gayle out early. This is why I feel he bowled Sunil Narine as early as the second over of the match. If Gayle had fallen to Narine, Shakib and Piyush would be able bowl, and RCB would’ve had a tough path ahead.

However, Gayle survived Narine’s first 2 overs and Morne Morkel’s 3. Now Gambhir was under the pump. Morkel had removed Virat Kohli (who had decided to open the innings), but didn’t have the important wicket of Gayle yet. However, to give Narine another over would leave his death bowling reserves precariously low. Now this situation I think is the result of something that happened before the match even began: the dropping of Umesh Yadav. Dropping their only other specialist quick denied Gambhir another option to bowl the death, and more importantly, another speedster he could throw at Gayle early on. In fact, it was Yadav that removed Gayle the last time these two teams met. Leaving him out for KC Cariappa left Gambhir one less bowler who he could bring in later on. This raises questions as to whether Cariappa should have been brought in ahead of Piyush Chawla instead of Yadav. As shown, Gambhir trusted Cariappa to bowl to Gayle, something that he clearly did not trust Chawla with. If this had been done, Gambhir would have had four extra overs he could gamble with, and would not have been choked for resources as he was.

After Narine and Morkel were removed from the attack, Cariappa and Andre Russell came in to bowl. Neither could make make any impact against Gayle. Then, no one else to turn to, Yusuf Pathan – the part-time off-break bowler – was handed the ball. He produced immediate success, crashing into the stumps of Dinesh Karthik and Mandeep Singh. However, neither was Chris Gayle, so the objective had not been completed. Yusuf was handed an additional 3 overs, with the same purpose in mind, but this turned out to be more of a blessing for RCB than anything else, as both Gayle and AB de Villiers took Pathan apart, ending his spell at 4-0-40-2. This ensured that RCB’s required run rate never creeped above 11, and hence they were at relative ease, which might have made all the difference.

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India’s Missing Cog

Image from static.ibnlive.in.com

Imagine you’re a high schooler, like me. You’re going to write your SAT tomorrow, but you’re pretty darn well prepared. Just to savour the victory ahead of time, you decide to try out a practice test. However, you finish the test with a score of 1200 (which is a 22nd percentile, and enough to make your parents mad at you). Has that ever happened to you? Well, that’s exactly what’s happening to the Indian cricketing team right now. They’ve been in Australia for just about 2 months now, and they’ve still not tasted victory. With the World Cup just weeks away (which is by the way being played in Australia and New Zealand), no doubt both Indian fan and player alike would be feeling the heat.
The defending champs have shown on more than one occasion on this tour that they are fighters, but regrettably they have no win to show for their efforts. They’ve has some stars, such as the mature, peerless Ajinkya Rahane and the resurgent, vengeful Virat Kohli, but all in all their performance as a team has been average.
What is wrong with them you may ask? Well I personally feel that their issue is not batting quality (although that has been rather on-and-off as well), but their bowling. To be more specific, their fast bowling. Their quicks simply have not been able to step up, and therefore have not been able to make the dents that people like Mitchell Starc and Steven Finn have been making. Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav have been fast but too wayward, gifting too many runs to the opposition but not keeping up the pressure. Mohammed Shami has had relatively more success, but has still not quite been able to hold on his discipline when bowling long spells. Ishant Sharma was also good on some occasions, but again, he just didn’t have the “oomph” factor that men like Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris had. Even Bhuvneshwar Kumar, once India’s go-to fast bowler, made a very lackadaisical comeback from injury, barely troubling Australia’s batsmen. Now, if there’s something Indian need more than ever, especially with the World Cup looming over, it’s a top grade fast bowler. Not just a guy who can hit the 150’s, but a guy who you can rely on to hit the new ball hard and draw early blood, and then come back in the death and land the final kill. There are going to be plenty of these types of players coming into the World Cup, such as Dale Steyn, Mitchell Starc and Lasith Malinga. If India want to be able to hold on to their trophy, they will need such a bowler. It’s probably too late to call up a new face, so for now India will have to trust Shami, Umesh, Ishant and Bhuvi, and just hope for the best. However, in the long run, it is imperative that India look for a pacer who they can rely on.
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What have RCB Done Wrong?

 

Image Credits: BCCI

Chris Gayle. Virat Kohli. Yuvraj Singh. AB de Villiers. Albie Morkel. Mitchell Starc. Each and every one of these players is a game-changer in T20 cricket, and has a great reputation of absolutely decimiating oppositions to clinch victories. Inarguably, most IPL franchises would pay big money for any one of these players. But all of them in one team? That’s a “fantasy team legend”…. and the side RCB has this year. When they walked out of the auction with a squad like this most people were convinced that they were favorites for the cup. After all, with that many match winners, someone would get them over the line. However, it has been far from that for the Royal Challengers this year. With 6 losses and 3 wins from 9 games, they now stand at 7th place, just ahead of the Delhi Daredevils. One may ask, how did this happen? Quite understandably too. After all, the chances of Virat Kohli (the man who came out of the T20 World Cup with an average exceeding 100), AB de Villiers (Mr. Awesome), Yuvraj Singh (Stuart Broad’s nightmare), and Chris Gayle (Chris Gayle), fail to make it large? Well, here’s what seems to have happened. Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli have looked very scratchy, and have often given their wickets away cheaply. This is why we have often seen the RCB batting card with 2 in the wickets column well before they would have liked. Also, a scratchy Yuvraj Singh (barring his gallant shows of marvel against RR and DD) has stuck the wheels on RCB, and not allowed them to gain momentum. AB de Villiers has carried too much of the weight, and even he was in indifferent form back in the UAE leg of the tournament, and it took a show against his old buddy Dale Steyn to get him back in color. The other batsmen have done precious little as well, as Parthiv Patel, Rilee Rossuow, Nic Maddinson, Yogesh Takawale, and Sachin Rana all have fallen flat, and not done justice to their selections. Albie Morkel has not looked like the genuine all-rounder he has been known for, as his bowling has not been economic, and his shot selection has been simply terrible, especially considering the situations he often walked into. Mitchell Starc has actually often been smarter as a batsman than he has, and as a result lasted longer at the crease. Their bowling was stellar for the first part, with Yuzvendra Chahal, Starc, and Varun Aaron high in the wickets column. However, in the last two games against KXIP and RR, their fast bowlers received a mauling at the hands of David Miller, James Faulkner, and Steve Smith, and ultimately conceded extremely high totals.

Some potential remedies:

The batting needs to begin to settle. They need to find a combination at the top which can play a calm, composed game to build partnerships, and set a strong foundation for the finishers. Parthiv Patel looked good for this, but effort to try and go big too often in the last few games has sucked him in. Vijay Zol played some very good shots against Rajasthan before he fell, and would not be a bad opening partner for PP, if Gayle is unfit.

The Bangalore track has offered good purchase to spinners. However, the RCB attack – with only one pro spinner – has been unable to take advantage of this. With the poor form of Ashok Dinda, they may want to consider using Shadab Jakati, the experienced left-arm spinner from Goa. He had a good stint with Chennai from the 2008-12 era, and will have plenty to offer for RCB.

If they can do this, RCB might achieve a turnaround, and achieve the already-improbable semifinal berth.

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Royal Challengers Bangalore: Season Preview

First check out my podcast for my general views of the team as it came fresh out of the auction:

 

The Royal Challengers have been very similar to South Africa when it comes to playing tournaments: they cruise along gently in the beginning, before choking towards the end and failing to go for gold. They would definitely look to do better this season. They did the right thing by retaining the core of their batting lineup in Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, and made some great buys in Albie Morkel, Mitchell Starc, Yuvraj Singh, and Parthiv Patel. Their only key concern for the upcoming IPL would be that the majority of their squad (barring Kohli of course) looked slightly off-color. Yuvraj Singh, who played what could be called a “match losing” knock in the final vs Sri Lanka, will definitely be a subject of concern for RCB, particularly as they spent nearly half of their auction purse on him. However, on paper, their team looks fairly strong. The batting is self-explanatory, and the fast-bowling is well looked after in the hands of Starc and Morkel. However, their spin will be a bit of a question mark, as they have but two specialist Indian spinners, neither of whom is capped. This may go unnoticed, seeing that one of those spinners is the experienced Shadab Jakati, but it will mean that Yuvraj will have a fair bit of responsibility with the ball as well. While Muttiah Muralitharan is indeed an option, it will mean that they will have to drop either Starc or Morkel, both of whom are clutch players in the side.

Author’s Choice XI (Based on more recent times):

Chris Gayle

Parthiv Patel (wk)

Virat Kohli (c)

AB de Villiers

Yuvraj Singh

Vijay Zol

Albie Morkel

Mitchell Starc

Shadab Jakati

Ashok Dinda

Yuzvendra Chahal

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IPL Auctions 2014 – A Look Back

Hey guys,

Firstly, I’m really sorry I couldn’t do any pre-auctions reviews this year. I had an unfortunately high amount of work and also fell sick, so I really had no time to do them.

However, because of that, I’m going to make this post-auction review the best it can possibly be. I’m not going to go in depth on each team, but I’m going to touch on the highlights, and talk about a few things. Hope you enjoy 🙂

At ₹14 crore, Yuvraj Singh was this year’s most expensive player.

This IPL auction was something different for several reasons. Of course, it was the quarterly team revamp auction, but it also featured many different twists to it. For instance, it was done in Indian Rupees, included the Right to Match cards (which you can read about here), and also included uncapped players. While the other two definitely have their own effects, the latter is probably the most crucial, because it meant that teams would have to look to literally build their entire squads in this auction, and would not simply be able to buy some stalwarts in the auction and look to pick up the uncapped players later. Hence, it required a whole new scope of planning from the franchises as they made their purchases in this auction.

There were plenty of highlights of course; most of all was Yuvraj Singh going to the Royal Challengers Bangalore for a hefty sum of 14 crore rupees – which is roughly $2.26 million – making him the second most expensive player in IPL history. His inclusion into the RCB side, along with Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, and AB de Villiers, means that they have what is arguably the most devastating batting unit in the tournament. Next to Yuvraj was Dinesh Karthik, who was snapped up by his first franchise the Delhi Daredevils for an explosive sum of ₹12.5 crore which is around $2.02 million. It was also exciting to see Virender Sehwag  (I do not speak for Delhi fans when I say this) purchased by the Kings XI Punjab, even if it was for a relatively small sum for someone of his stature. Some of the other interesting purchases included the little-known New Zealand quick Matt Henry (CSK), the Zimbabwe wicket-keeper batsman Brendan Taylor (SRH), and the young Australian T20 opener Nic Maddinson (RCB). Another player who earned a surprisingly high sum was the uncapped Indian all-rounder Karan Sharma. Although he was eventually bought back by his former franchise the Sunrisers Hyderabad, it was not before his price had shot up from a mere ₹30 lakh to a mammoth 3.75 crores (about $600,000), which was more than what capped stars like Sehwag, Irfan Pathan, and Brad Hodge got.

The best post-auction squads, in my opinion, are those of the Sunrisers, Kings XI, and Royal Challengers. Kings XI probably made some of the best bargains of the auction, picking up players like Mitchell Johnson, George Bailey, Sehwag, Cheteshwar Pujara, and Thisara Perera; none of whom cost them more than 7 crores. The Sunrisers were probably one of the happiest franchises after the auction, after they walked out with guys like Aaron Finch, David Warner, and Naman Ojha combining with the already-retained Shikhar Dhawan to make up the SRH batting. In addition to this, their overall bowling attack now consists of Dale Steyn, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Irfan Pathan, Parveez Rasool, Amit Mishra, and Darren Sammy (which is already enough to make any batsmen pee in his pants), not even including their bench strength. The best part? None of their prices exceeded ₹5.5 crore. With RCB, it is easy to see why their side appears so intimidating. Not many look at a batting order containing Gayle, Kohli, de Villiers, Yuvraj, and Albie Morkel and say “that’s not good enough.” To add to their batting power, they pulled in former Sunrisers keeper batsman Parthiv Patel – who struck some crucial blows at the top of the order for SRH in both IPL 2013 and CLT20 2013 – India’s U19 World Cup hero Vijay Zol, and the talented Kenyan batsman Tanmay Mishra. Their bowling will be spearheaded by the Ozzie new-ball gun Mitchell Starc, ably assisted by Albie, Varun Aaron – one of India’s fastest bowlers today – Ashok Dinda, and Shadab Jakati. Hence, this RCB side resembles the one  the Delhi Daredevils had in 2012, with the beefed up batting and the pace-reliant attack.

Another thing that surprised most was that not many Sri Lankan players were picked at all. In fact, only two – Muttiah Muralitharan and Thisara Perera – were picked in the entire auction. While there are many factors that could possibly have lead to the franchises turning their back on them – most prominent of which is their tour of England that would lead them to miss a large portion of the tournament. Despite that, I find it very surprising that no franchise was willing to make a long-term investment in a T20 specialist like Mahela Jaywardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan, or Ajantha Mendis. Of course the franchises may show more interest when they appear in next year’s auctions, but the unconventional shortage of Sri Lankan stars will be something new to the league this year.

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India pull off unbeaten Champions Trophy win

After enduring through consistent showers and shortened playing time, the fans who grouped at Birmingham finally got the result of the final of this last ever Champions Trophy, and it was India who pulled out victorious. Chasing 130 for victory in the 20 over game, on a challenging track, the Englishmen were rocked as they lost their top four inside 10 overs, with the required rate climbing. Then Ravi Bopara – who had shined with the ball and in the field – bugged India once again as he put together a strong 64-run stand with Eoin Morgan. The two of them managed to simplify the equation to 28 needed of 18. Then Ishant Sharma – who’s arrival to the bowling crease that over had been greeted with heavy criticism – went from Zero to Hero in 2 balls as he removed both Bopara and Morgan in just 2 balls. That was the end of England’s chances of getting the cup. Looking at the rainy conditions, English skipper Alastair Cook gave his seamers the first ball. The Englishmen were very disciplined, and never really let India run away with it. Only Shikhar Dhawan (31), Virat Kohli (43) and Ravindra Jadeja (33*) made double digits. It was a marvelous tournament for the Men in Blue, as they were unbeaten throughout; including the Warm-Up games. This is quiet a contrasting result to the one expected by most people, looking at India’s squad – particularly the fast-bowling attack. Still, MSD’s men proved their critics wrong yet again, and shone bright to clench another cup. An example of just how dominating they were was shown as both the leading run scorer and wicket taker were both Indian (Dhawan and Jadeja respectively). This seems to show that India have finally struck a balanced side, and hopefully can carry this form onto their various other tournaments.

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Royal Challengers Bangalore – The Juggernaut in Jeopardy

The Royal Challengers Bangalore have been the most dominating side this IPL. Virat Kohli has been good in his captaincy, fielding, and batting, whereas Chris Gayle has taken the opposition apart, and their fast bowling attack – comprised of Vinay Kumar, RP Singh and Ravi Rampaul – has been pretty consistent. As I have said before, RCB definitely did their homework in the auctions. They brought in 4 fast bowlers (3 of them being Indian), and 3 all rounders, which had been what they were missing last year. Out of them, Ravi Rampaul has been the most successful. You see, what RCB lacked through this time, was that dominant fast bowler, who you can trust to take wickets and trouble the batsmen with the new ball. Deccan had Dale Steyn, Mumbai has Lasith Malinga, and Delhi has Morne Morkel. RCB had Zaheer Khan, but he wasn’t the threatening bowler that RCB needed. Although he was decently economic, batsmen didn’t have too much trouble facing him. Rampaul has done well here. He nips the new ball around and asks questions to the batsmen. He also takes wickets early, and gives RCB that early edge. Their other bowlers have also been dominant, particularly Vinay Kumar, who has put the slower deliveries and short balls to good use, in addition to his toe crushing yorker. After being replenished of his duty as a second spearhead, Vinay seems be in good wicket-taking form, as he now shares a joint 3rd place on the Purple Cap standings with Amit Mishra (but has a worse econimy rate). RP Singh has done reasonably well with the new ball, but has been expensive in the death, as shown in various encounters. However, he has taken wickets, and is now 8th on the standings.

Now onto RCB’s batting. Gaylestorm. Not much else to say here. Chris Gayle has utterly dominated the bowlers, as he has struck 450 runs already, with a strike rate of 164.23 and an average of 90. His dominance has given RCB that slight psychological edge over the fielding side, no matter what total. His 175 not out against Pune will not be forgotten very soon, and is just as far from being beaten. Gayle has been assisted very ably by Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, who have also enjoyed good form for most of RCB’s games.

Their problems are very simple. They don’t have a balance in their side. Their lack of dominant Indian batsmen has forced them to pull in 3 overseas batsmen, leaving their middle order very vulnerable indeed. Also, to accommodate all their bowlers, they are forced to play the 5-1-5 distribution, with 5 bats, a keeper, and another 5 bowlers. Of course some of their bowlers can bat, as Vinay Kumar and Ravi Rampaul demonstrated last game. However, their balance still isn’t good. Out of their 5 bowlers, if even one goes for runs, RCB will have problems. Either Gayle or Kohli will have to bowl. Neither of these are particularly good options. Another concern they will have is the scratchy form of Tillakaratne Dilshan. The 195-run chase at Mumbai was very doable, with Chris Gayle on one end. The only thing would be to play out the swinging new ball, and take on the bowlers in the middle overs. Here, Dilshan was trying to hit every ball sent his way by Mitchell Johnson and Lasith Malinga, and hit like 2 of them. His shot selection was rash, and he failed to make contact with much. So excruciating was his innings, that it was relief to see him perish to the more inexperienced Dhawal Kulkarni. This match also revealed a chink in RCB’s armor as neither Saurabh Tiwari nor Arun Karthik – who made up RCB’s middle order – put up many runs. It was Rampaul and Vinay who stitched together a 50 run stand in 36 balls to help RCB avoid the potential humiliation of losing by a hundred runs. Their rotation of the strike was an example of what RCB should have done in the initial overs.

Here’s what RCB should do for their game against RR. They must bench Dilshan, and bring in Sunny Sohal, the opener. Then, they must bring in Moises Henriques ahead of one of their bowlers, maybe RP Singh. Another interesting move they could employ against RR would be to bring Pankaj Singh. He would know the Rajasthan track well, having played for them last year. Playing him against Mumbai would have also been successful, as the Mumbai track had a lot of bounce in it, and Pankaj can bring out a deadly bouncer.

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Gayle, Vinay thwart MI

Yesterday evening the Royal Challengers Bangalore won one of the narrowest wins ever against the visiting Mumbai Indians. This also ended MI’s record of never being beaten by the home side here at Bengaluru. Observing the grass on the track, Ricky Ponting decided to give his pacers a chance to use the conditions by bowling first. Although RCB would have had some relief at the fact that Lasith Malinga wasn’t playing, his replacement Mitchell Johnson’s angle from left-arm over the wicket was very hard to score of for the RCB openers. In his second over, Johnson castled Tillakaratne Dilshan with a fuller delivery, and sent the off-stump out of the ground. Captain Virat Kohli showed flashes of aggression by taking on Johnson and Munaf Patel. Then he hit debutant Jasprit Bumrah for 3 boundaries in 4 balls before getting lbw on the 5th. Mayank Agarwal – who was batting at number 4 in the absence of AB de Villiers – perished shortly after, again to Bumrah. Chris Gayle then used Daniel Christan’s solidity at the other end to go for his shots. Although Christian fell to Harbhajan for 4 later on, the fact that he had stayed there gave Gayle the momentum he needed. Although domestic hero Karun Nair fell to Bumrah for a duck later, Gayle teamed up with Arun Karthik (19 of 19) to take RCB to a defendable 156. Just to demonstrate how Gayle’s aggression in the middle and death overs piled, consider this: he was at 21 of 20 at one stage, and finished at 92 of 58. Gayle went particularly severe on Munaf Patel, converting his figures from 0/8 in 2 all the way to 0/40 in 4. Many people had raised their eyebrows at the selection of the bowling attack, in which Jaydev Unadkat had been played ahead of RP Singh. Even more eyebrows were raised as he came in to bowl the opening over to the opening pair we have all been waiting to see since the auctions in Feb: Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting. Although the RCB bowlers were not outrageously expensive, Sachin and Punter were still scoring with little difficulty, and brought up a 50-run stand in 7.1 overs. However, some sharp fielding by Unadkat resulted in Sachin’s run out 2 balls later. RCB then forced their way back into the game as Murali Karthik had Punter stumped about 2 overs later, and Vinay Kumar dismissed Rohit Sharma for the 3rd time in their last 3 meetings. However, Dinesh Karthik didn’t give up so easily. He took Christian for 24 in one over, and his efforts made sure that MI needed just 10 of the last over. However, Vinay Kumar bowled the best death-over of his life. First Ambati Rayudu sneaked a bye. Then Karthik perished attempting to clear the stands again, then Vinay clattered Rayudu, who was on strike because they had run in KArthik’s dismissal. Bhajji took a single, and Pollard struck a boundry that was almost a six. Then, VK – with 4 to defend – bowled a beautiful yorker that Pollard could only dig out for a single. It was heartbreak for all the MI players – particularly Dinesh Karthik – as they had come so close, but failed to pull it off. Ironic, as MI have given so many other teams this heartbreak in the past. Chris Gayle was adjudged Man of the Match for his match-winning knock, although Vinay Kumar was very much in contention. Well, now we will progress on to Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Pune Warriors India, which is yet another interesting game. Check back for the preview in about half an hour. See ya!

Ricky Ponting failed to make it large on his debut as an IPL captain

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MI vs RCB – What to expect.

We saw a great game of cricket in the first game, and now the second game is hours away. This one, however, promises to be an even more interesting competition. The Royal Challengers Bangalore will take on the Mumbai Indians in Bengaluru. In the auctions, RCB were the most active team, with 7 buys: left arm pacer RP Singh, Windies Ravi Rampaul and Chris Barnwell, All rounders Moises Henriques and Daniel Christian, and Indian pacers Jaydev Unadkat and Pankaj Singh. MI were almost just as noisy with 5 players. Their buys were captain Ricky Ponting, million-dollar baby Glenn Maxwell, Jacob Phil Hughes, and all rounders Oram, and Nathan Coulter-Nile.

Now on the teams. Mumbai have changed their captain now to Ricky Ponting, and also brought him in as yet another potential opening partner for Sachin Tendulkar. This is something MI has really struggled with in the last 3 years. Davy Jacobs, James Franklin, Rajagopal Sathish, Aiden Blizzard, Herschelle Gibbs, and Richard Levi have all been tried, and discarded. If Ponting fires with Sachin, MI have very little to worry about in the batting department. In the bowling, Lasith Malinga is injured, and will not play this first game. This means that Mitchell Johnson now has a very good shot at an IPL debut. Johnson was not very special in the one and only test he played in the Border-Gavasker trophy, but still can be very effective as a bowler. He can also bat a fair bit, so it gives the MI lineup more depth. So Ponting and Johnson have now filled up 2 of the 4 overseas spots. Kieron Pollard will definitely get the third. The fourth will most likely go to Glenn Maxwell. Not because of his awe-striking form, but because of his $1 million price tag. Spots 3 and 4 will go to Rohit Sharma and keeper Dinesh Karthik. 5 will go to Ambati Rayudu. Munaf Patel will combine with Johnson to spearhead, while Harbhajan Singh and Praghyan Ojha will slow the ball.

MI POTENTIAL SQUAD:

Ricky Ponting (c)

Sachin Tendulkar

Rohit Sharma

Dinesh Karthik (wk)

Ambati Rayudu

Kieron Pollard

Glenn Maxwell

Mitchell Johnson

Harbhajan Singh

Praghyan Ojha

Munaf Patel

 

RCB have really done their homework this auction. They have brought in lots of bowling reserves, and two all rounders. On paper, they have a tremendous side. However, they don’t have a full strength side either. AB de Villiers is in South Africa playing for the Titans, and Zaheer Khan is recovering from a hamstring injury. This means that Arun Karthik will have to keep wickets. It also gives RP Singh the responsibility of spearheading the attack. Chris Gayle and TM Dilshan will make two of the 4 overseas players for RCB. Dilshan has been in the form of his life off late, while Gayle simply cannot be left out of any side. the third will probably go to Muttiah Muralitharan. The fourth will be fought for between the 3 Ozzie all rounders Christian, Henriques and Andrew McDonald, and also Ravi Rampaul. However, my preference would be McD, as the middle order is inexperienced, and a strong batsman is needed there. Also, McD was very succesful for RCB with the ball. If everything goes this way, RCB will have a better balance in the middle. Another thing is that Cheteshwar Pujara should bat up at number 3, as he has looked very good up there for India in tests, and Kohli is an equally flamboyant player at number 4. RP will be joined by McD and Vinay Kumar as they spearhead the attack while Murali will combine with Murali Karthik – who was recruited by RCB outside the auction – to slow down the ball. Saurabh Tiwari  – who is in a desperate need of some runs – will play at 6 while Karthik will play at 7.

 

RCB POTENTIAL SQUAD:

Chris Gayle

TM Dilshan

Cheteshwar Pujara

Virat Kohli (c)

Andrew McDonald

Saurabh Tiwari

Arun Karthik (wk)

Vinay Kumar

RP Singh

Murali Karthik

Muttiah Muralitharan

 

CLASHES TO WATCH OUT FOR:

Mitchell Johnson vs Tillakaratne Dilshan: Dilshan is one of those guys who likes to start playing his shots from ball one, but has had trouble with left-arm seamers. Ponting will definitely be relieved if Mitch can send Dilshan back early.

Chris Gayle vs Munaf Patel: Out of the 3 times MI have got Gayle out, two of them have been to the courtesy of Munaf Patel. So if Munaf can remove Gayle early, we’re in for something.

Muttiah Muralitharan vs Sachin Tendulkar:

Two legends playing against each other. If Murali can outfox Sachin and expose the middle order, game on.

RP Singh vs Ricky Ponting: RP was purchased by RCB with the hope that he can bring them some early wickets, and some good death bowling. If RP can take out the Mumbai skipper, the Challengers would definitely breathe easier.

Gayle and Virat hold the key for RCB
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IPL – What’s coming up

The frenzy of the Border – Gavasker trophy, where the Indians successfully whitewashed their opponents the Australians 4 – 0 in a thrilling contest. It was made far more interesting by the fact that Mickey Arthur sent 4 players home, but had to call back 3 of them because of injuries. (Kind of like a teacher sending kids out of the class because they didn’t do their homework, but having to call them back because half the other kids were absent). Of course, now the much awaited Pepsico IPL has arrived. This one, or course, promises to be just as good as the previous ones. However, there will be several players who will be missed, for the first few games at least. The ones who will be missed include Kevin Pietersen, Jesse Ryder (who is currently in coma because he was assaulted), Ross Taylor, Faf du Plessis, Micheal Clarke and JP Duminy. However, there are several new changes this year as well. For one, the Deccan Chargers’ franchise has now become Sunrisers Hyderabad, Ricky Ponting has become MI’s new captain, Angelo Matthews PWI’s, and Virat Kohli RCB’s. However, the biggest development has been that Sri Lankan players have been banned from playing matches in Chennai. This is an absolute outrage, as now every team will suffer while playing in Chennai – particularly MI (Malinga is their best bowler), DD (Mahela’s their captain), SRH (Sanga’s their captain/keeper, and Perera is a key all-rounder), PWI (Matthews is their captain, and Mendis is a key spinner), and RCB (Dilshan is a key top order batsman, and Murali’s their best spinner). As you may have noticed, CSK are not affected by this, as neither Nuwan Kulasekara and Akhila Dananjaya are crucial in their side. Although the other teams will have to play only one game in Chennai, it could still be the difference between qualify and drop. Also, the eliminator will be in Chennai, and it will be suicide for any team to drop key players at this stage. However, moving past that, let’s see what happens this season, and the first match report will be made sometime before the first game, on the 3rd of April. Well, see you then!

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