Dale Steyn was picked up for quite a bargain price. ( Image from indiatoday.in )
The 2016 IPL Auction was arguably the most interesting of all time, not just because of the influx of players from the now-suspended Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals franchises, but also because of the fact that two teams – Rising Pune Supergiants and Gujarat Lions – had to build their teams pretty much from scratch in what we consider as one of those “team strengthening” auctions. While I saw many buys that just had me scratching my head, I also saw a couple of excellent bargain buys, five of which I shall highlight in this article.
#5 – Stuart Binny (Rs. 2.00 crores – roughly $295,000) – Royal Challengers Bangalore
I realize that many may not think Binny as a marvelous bargain made in this auction, and they are not wrong to do so. However, we must consider the team that he has been brought into. RCB has been in search of a proper Indian all-rounder since…well, forever. Yuvraj was a good shot, but 14 crores was a weight too big for the RCB purse to bear, and he was let go. Acquiring Binny may have finally solved that problem. Although he hasn’t been in prime form over the last year, if he can roll his arm over for 2-3 overs at 8 or less, and swing a couple of sixes at the end of the innings, he will be quite and asset for the franchise. Of course, the question of whether or not he will actually perform remains, but I feel that for the risk, 2.00 crore is not a bad price to pay.
#4- Kevin Pietersen (Rs. 3.50 crores – roughly $515,000) – Rising Pune Supergiants
Even though his standing with the English Cricket Board is flaky at best, it is undeniable that Kevin Pietersen is a true mascot of the sport of cricket, and a worldwide entertainer. He has not donned the English jersey since England’s unceremonious loss of the 2013-14 Ashes Down Under, yet he continues to ply his trade in various T20 Leagues around the world – such as the Big Bash League, the Carribian Premier League, and the recently started Pakistan Super League. Wherever he has gone, he has given fans a marvelous display of T20 skill and power. He captained the Delhi Daredevils to their disastrous 8th place finish in 2014, and had to opt out of his Sunrisers contract last year to ply his trade at county cricket in a bid to return to the international squad. This year, he will be at Pune, alongside the likes of MS Dhoni, Steve Smith, and Faf du Plessis. While 3.50 crores is a significant amount of money, for someone in the form that KP is in, it is quite a steal.
When we think of India’s devastating Bangladesh ODI series in June 2015, Mustafizur’s name comes up almost the same way Hitler’s does with World War II. The man picked up 5, 6, and 2 wickets in the first three games respectively, giving his team a 2-1 victory. The young 20-year old has not stopped his carnage there, however, as he holds averages under 15 in both T20 and ODI cricket. With a great abundance of Indian pacers in the Sunrisers lineup, not to mention Trent Boult vying for that bowler’s overseas slot, it will be difficult for Mustafizur to get games on a regular basis, but regardless, a price of 1.40 crores for him was a real jackpot for the Sunrisers.
Since he was made a regular opener by the Mumbai Indians in 2012, Dwayne Smith has taken the IPL by storm. His belligerent hitting played a vital role for MI in 2013, as he covered up for Sachin Tendulkar’s injury and helped them win their first title. When he was contracted to CSK in 2014, he simply picked up from where he left off, partnering with Brendon McCullum to make one of the most devastating opening pairs in all of IPL. In fact, he came within tasting distance of the 2014 MVP Award, only to lose it by half a point to Glenn Maxwell. Considering that they drafted McCullum beforehand, they will be very happy that they could pick up his CSK opening partner for such a modest price.
Despite the fact that he’s going through a rather rough patch, with injuries and lapses in form, Dale Steyn is still one of the best bowlers in the world today. Like he showed in 2012 with the Deccan Chargers, he can single-handedly lead a team’s bowling attack to some success. When Gujrat came out of the Player Draft, many questions were raised about how they were going to acquire someone to spearhead them for a price that their budget would permit. Hence, picking someone like Steyn up for just 2.30 crores was a true bargain.
CSK have been one of IPL’s most successful franchises of all time (image from livecricketscore.io).
If you’ve browsed IPL memes on the internet, you’ve probably seen this one (or some variation of it):
Image from indianexpress.com
Just based off this meme (and many, many others online), you can pretty much conclude that the Chennai Super Kings are one of the IPL’s most dominant franchises. Again, this year, they are sitting pretty on the top of the points table with 12 points in 8 matches.
Now if you’re an non-CSK IPL fan, you’ve probably asked yourself: how are they so good? Many people have said match fixing, many people have said N. Srinivasan, and others have said match fixing by N. Srinivasan. Illegal activities aside, this is why I think CSK have been the best franchise this IPL:
1. They’ve got depth: Very few franchises will be able to say that they don’t have room for Michael Hussey in their first playing XI. CSK, though, have got that kind of depth. This is why, as we saw yesterday, they could recover from 90-5 and still make it to 150-odd.
2. They’re not afraid to be aggressive from the onset: A lot of teams walk out to bat with the mindset of “let me play out these first overs and go big later.” CSK, however, don’t do that. With guys like Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith and Suresh Raina in their order, they won’t be afraid to go after you from ball one. As a result, they immediately push their opponents into playing catch-up cricket, which then allows them to consolidate and set up for the big score. It must be noted though that this aggressive attitude has often cost them quick loss of wickets at the top of the order.
3. They’ve got a stable playing XI: Throughout the IPL, CSK have been known to not really change their squad much. Same thing here. They’ve not tinkered with their lineup too much, and just kept things simple with the same players. After, if it ain’t broke, you don’t fix it.
4. They back their players: This is a tie-on from my previous point, but is still important. There are franchises that keep changing out their squad after rough performances, and don’t really give individual players many chances. However, CSK have been rather generous in this sense, and have always backed their players to come back strong.
5. They Work as a Team: This is one key element that you see in every successful sports team (not just cricket teams). Teams that are carried by one or two people can come far, but the teams that take that final step over the line to make history are the ones that have powerful teamwork. CSK are one such team. If you look at the way they play, you can barely ever pinpoint one man and say he’s the sole cause for CSK’s excellent form. Rather, it’s all the players coming together: the batsmen knocking the runs, and the bowlers and fielders backing them up. This is a crucial element of every champion team.
Yuvzendra Chahal has been one of the finds of the tournament. (Image from iplt20.com)
IPL is here. The most awaited event in the cricketing world barring World Cups, the IPL brings in a new essence of fickleness and thrill to cricket. In fact, we’ve already seen a 200-run chase, even though its been only 4 days since the start of the tournament. We’ve also seen how unpredictable it can be, as Mumbai Indians cartwheeled from a well-poised 60-2 in 9 overs to a paltry 115-9 in their 20 overs. Overall, its been a fabulous tournament already, and I can’t wait to see what the next month and half will bring!
The start of the IPL has was awaited event for me. Of course, watching it from South Korea is rather hard, owing to the fact that the 8 PM game begins at midnight, but being a hardcore cricket fan, I’ve managed to fight that obstacle and stay awake to see my favorite players rock the stage. I failed to catch the essence of the first game, owing to my over reliance on starsports.com (which apparently only streams in the subcontinent), and ended up with a terrible quality stream, to which I preferred simply catching the highlights next day during lunch break. For the rest of the games, however, I managed to find the correct YouTube streaming channel, and have managed to catch each and every match. And boy, did my dedication pay off. As mentioned in the intro paragraph, I’ve already been treated to Glenn Maxwell’s reverse sweeps, Yuvzendra Chahal’s googlies, Sunil Narine’s mystery, and Lasith Malinga’s yorkers, to name a few. There’s been some lovely contests, as Glenn Maxwell out shined Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith as KXIP successfully chased CSK’s 205-run total, and Virat Kohli combining with Yuvraj Singh to barrage the hapless Delhi Daredevils for sixes to successfully chase 145 with 20 balls to spare.
So far, I feel that two players who have impressed greatly are Parthiv Patel and Yuvzendra Singh Chahal. Since the moment Richard Madlee’s hammer hit the deck (and SRH declined to use ther RTM), Parthiv was doomed to be the minnow in the shadow of Gayle, Kohli and de Villiers. After all, what could be expected from a little man with an average barely over 20 and a strike rate barely over 100? However, Parthiv has been the not hid in the shadow, but cast his own. So far, he has epitomized the ideal opening partner for Chris Gayle. He’s played with beautiful temperament, and has taken the pressure off the rest of RCB’s batting lineup. Versus Delhi, he lead the charge with some aggressive batting to allow Virat Kohli to settle in, and against Mumbai he played a steadying innings to help RCB get off the hook after they were at 17-3. His good form also covered for Nic Maddinson’s lapses, and I am sure he will be incredible when Chris Gayle returns. Chahal was, I admit, a surprise choice as first spinner ahead of the much more experienced Shadab Jakati. However, it was nothing to the incredibility of his performance. He has taken 3 wickets across 2 games, with economy rates under 5 in each game. He is also yet to concede a boundary this tournament. However, his true beauty lies in his variations. For example, he bowled a beautiful legbreak to bowl over Murali Vijay on the very first ball of the season he bowled, and then bowled some beautiful wrong-uns vs MI to remove Kieron Pollard and Rohit Sharma. All the more impressive, considering he has played only 1 IPL match before this. Overall, Chahal looks like a promising talent, and RCB can rest their spin responsibilities on him.
For the last time, watch the podcast for my views on the team as it came out of the auction. In case you want to view my other podcasts, you can always watch them here.
The Rajasthan Royals have always been admired as a franchise that takes what little it has, and makes it large. This was more than clear when Shane Warne picked up the least-likely-to-succeed team he was given, and took it to a victory. Although Rajasthan had rather lean times after that, they came back strong to secure third place last IPL. In the auction, they were frugal spenders, their most expensive buy being Steve Smith at Rs 4 crore ($660,000). The walk into this IPL with an abundance of young talent, in the form of Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson, Unmukt Chand, Dhawal Kulkarni, Karun Nair, and Iqbal Abdullah. These players, working under brilliant mentors such as Paddy Upton and Rahul Dravid, will definitely blossom. In terms of overseas firepower, RR are not far behind either. Along with the already retained James Faulkner and Shane Watson, they brought back Kevon Cooper and Brad Hodge, and also pulled in the accurate Tim Southee, the hard-hitting Ben Cutting, and the ferocious Kane Richardson. I feel Ajinkya Rahane will have a crucial role to play for the Royals this year, as Rahul Dravid’s retirement makes him the most experienced Indian batsman in the playing team. Also, it will be interesting to see Shane Watson leading the side this year, as he has not had any experience captaining Australia and how he manages this young squad will be interesting to watch.
Its the new year 2014, and the IPL Auctions 2014 are dawning upon us already. With less than 30 days to go for the first phase of what is arguably the best domestic league in the world, teams are beginning to stir, waking from their long slumber. The list of retained players has already been announced, and if you so desire you can view them here. This auction plans to be much more interesting than the ones before, not only because it is the quarterly-arriving time where the entire teams are reformed, but also because of several new concepts introduced in this auction. The introduction of the “Right to Match” cards are amongst these interesting reforms, in addition to the retention limit going from 4 players to 5. I will do a thorough post that explains what the rights to match card does in another post, as I plan to do a lot of pre-auction posts anyways. In this particular post, I’m going to talk about 10 players who will definitely be on the buying lists of many franchises, and what will make them so valuable. Just so you know, the order they’re listed in has no statistical significance; its just the order I thought of them in. Here we go:
1. Cameron White (Australia)
The hard hitting Victorian has been known for inconsistency in the past, but in the on-going Big Bash League he has made himself heard, leading from the front with 201 runs at an average of 33.83, reinforced with a strike rate of 138.62. He also holds the reigns of captaincy for the Melbourne Stars, and is yet to lose a game this season. Such stats will definitely make White someone the IPL franchises will be looking for. For teams looking for new leaders and complete reform – namely the Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils – this experienced campaigner would be a good option.
2. Luke Wright (England)
While his fellow countrymen were being deep-fried Down Under in the Ashes, Luke Wright was having quiet a ball for the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League. Opening the innings with White, he has amassed 275 runs at a strike rate of 151.93 and an average of 34.37, and is the highest scorer for the Stars this year. He is no fool with the ball either, and in fact had an economy rate of 6.5 during Chris Gayle’s memorable assault on the Pune Warriors India during IPL 2013. He is a flexible batsman, and can bat anywhere from opening down to number 6 or 7. I feel that all the teams would love to have him on their side, but with the ECB being touchy about IPL, availability might be an issue for Wright. Still, franchises like RCB and MI would gladly take the risk, as combinations like Gayle and Wright would be beyond deadly.
3. Pragyan Ojha (India)
Pragyan Ojha is arguably India’s best test spinner today, but unfortunately he has been overlooked in the limited overs formats, where India’s bowling has taken a severe berating off late. His peak of form in terms of IPL cricket was in the years 2009 and 10, where he played a crucial role in Deccan Chargers’ unexpected title win in 2009, and semifinal place in 2010. He also won the Purple cap in 2010. In 2013, he played an instrumental role in Mumbai’s victory, as he claimed 16 wickets with an economy rate of 7.28, including the crucial wicket of Albie Morkel in the final. It is likely that he will be up for fair auction, as MI chose not to retain him, and are more likely to use their right to match card on Mitchell Johnson. This means that all the franchises will be after him, including MI. The Royal Challengers Bangalore might be willing to invest a lot in him as well, owing to the fact that bowling has been a concern for them in the last few years and Ojha would be able to remedy that well.
4. Dwayne Smith (West Indies)
The West Indian all-rounder is known for packing quiet a punch, and I doubt that there will be anyone to doubt that theory. He was devastating from the moment he set foot in the Mumbai Indians camp in 2012, and is remembered for smashing a six and two boundaries off Ben Hilfenhaus’s last three deliveries in the 20th over to snatch MI an improbable victory against the Chennai Super Kings in IPL 2012. However, he struggled in the middle-order from then on. His promotion to opener saw hell break loose, as he absolutely mauled the opposition bowlers and played an instrumental role in Mumbai’s victory of IPL 2013, scoring 418 runs at a strike rate of 122.58. He – like Ojha – will most likely be up for fair auction, as Mumbai did not retain him either, and as I said before, are more likely to use their right to match card on Mitchell Johnson, who was in red-hot form for the Ashes. While his former franchise will undoubtedly do everything they can to snap him up again, teams like CSK and Sunrisers Hyderabad – who are looking for in-form batsmen to open their batting – will have their eyes on him as well.
5. Aaron Finch (Australia)
Aaron Finch was in utterly decimating form this Big Bash League season. With 262 runs at a strike rate of 148.02 and an average of 52.40, he currently tops the run charts, he has truly been an example of “leading form the front” as he also captained the Melbourne Renegades. Unfortunately, international duty made him unavailable for their last 2 games, and that was only a catalyst that sped up the downfall of the Renegades, as they finished 6th in the league. Nonetheless, his performance is still enough to catch the eyes of any selector. He also scored a whoop-de-do 156 of just 63 against England in August last year, a score which stands as the highest individual T20I score ever. Finch led the now-defunct Pune Warriors India in 2013, and his 456 runs at a strike rate of 135.71 was the most for any batsman from his team, and gave a silver lining to PWI’s otherwise miserable season. The fact that his franchise cannot use a right to match card on him (because they don’t exist anymore) will make him up for fair auction, meaning that he will be under heavy bidding from about every franchise. Teams like Sunrisers Hyderabad and Delhi Daredevils, who are seeking batting reforms, will be particularly interested in him.
6. Bhuvneshwar Kumar (India)
Just about a year ago, Bhuvneshwar Kumar made his international debut, and he steamed through batsmen like a hot knife through butter. It has been more than evident that he lacks pace, and has been expensive at the death because of that. However, he is able to swing the new ball both ways, and is capable of wrecking havoc to top-order batsmen, and has even quelled Chris Gayle on many occasions with typical outswingers that caught edges. Although his form has deteriorated slightly over the last couple of months, which led to his dropping from the Test side in favor of Shami Ahmed, he is undoubtedly one of the best of the new-ball bowlers India’s got today, and it’ll be very strange if no IPL franchise decides to go for him. Teams that are looking to reform their teams altogether – such as Delhi or Kings XI Punjab – or teams that have struggled with bowling in the past – such as the Royal Challengers Bangalore – will definitely put a lot of money in him.
7. Ryan McLaren (South Africa)
This South-African all-rounder has been an integral part of South Africa’s limited overs side, and has guided them to multiple close wins. As a bowler, he has worked with Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel to good effect, and was a part of the 5-man pace attack that South Africa used to barrage the Indian visitors on their recent tour. As a batsman, he has not fired quiet as much, but has played quiet a few crucial knocks for RSA, as well as his IPL franchises. Most notable of these knocks was during Kings XI Punjab’s first game of the 2011 IPL, where he came in at 36-5, and made a crucial 43-ball 51, which saved his team many blushes, although they went on to lose the game. Considering also that the IPL may take place in South Africa, McLaren would be a handy player for any team to have on their side. After James Faulkner profited on their home pitch, Rajasthan might want to give McLaren a go as well, to add to their international flavor in their attack.
8. James Neesham(New Zealand)
The New Zealand all-rounder made a large impact in the T20 world after his exploits for the Otago Volts in the CLT20 of 2013. Although his team just missed their semifinal berth, his highlights gave a silver lining for the Volts to remember. He made 92 in 54 balls across his 3 matches, and got out only once. He was able with the ball as well, taking 3 wickets across his 10 overs while keeping his economy rate to a mere 7.00. His best highlight of the league was probably during the super over between Otago Volts and the Highveld Lions, where he managed to defend his total of 13 runs despite giving 10 in the first 2 balls. Neesham’s abilities will be valued by about every team, but teams like RCB – who have been looking desperately looking for one of those all rounders who can be equally brilliant with both bat and ball – should be willing to shell out a large amount for him.
9. Jackson Bird (Australia)
Jackson Bird has been one of the key standout performers in the Big Bash league season this year. Amassing 13 wickets across 7 games with a miserly economy of 6.71 and a stunning average of 14.46, he has been an integral part of the unbeaten Melbourne Stars’ success so far. He currently stands second on the highest wicket takers table, with Cameron Gannon of Brisbane Heat ahead of him. Teaming up with Lasith Malinga, Bird has been Cameron White’s weapon of choice against opposing batsmen throughout this league. The teams that will probably go hardest for him are teams that have lacked the genuine spearhead bowler, such as Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore. However, it would also be just as wonderful to see him in Mumbai Indians or Sunrisers Hyderabad, bowling in tangent with Malinga or Dale Steyn.
10. Corey Anderson (New Zealand)
Corey Anderson has been the sensation of the year 2014 so far. After his world-record 36-ball ton against a hapless West Indies attack got everyone to look at him, he’s begun to show some more of his real class. In India’s tour of New Zealand, he whipped up a barrage with the bat, which included a 17-ball 44 that was just a six short of beating the record for fastest ODI fifty as well. He’s no amateur with the ball either. His left arm fast is probably not the most economic source of bowling, with his economy ranging well around the 6-an-over-mark, but he’s picked up nearly 20 wickets in just 12 games, and has already collected a 5-wicket haul. This shows that Corey may well be the vintage T20 all-rounder who gets the top bid for this year’s auction. Although about every team will look to go for him, it will be nice to see him in RCB, since the batting-friendly Chinnaswami Stadium track would definitely be able to bring out the best of Corey.
The Pune Warriors India have been very poor this IPL. Very poor indeed. They’ve managed only 2 wins in their 10 games, and now they are pretty much out of the tournament. It’s really remarkable how such a team could end up in such a situation. They are team adorned with all-rounders like Yuvraj Singh, Angelo Matthews, Mitchell Marsh, Marlon Samuels, and Luke Wright, and batsmen like Ross Taylor, Aaron Finch, Robin Uthappa, and Steve Smith. They are also joined with bowlers like Rahul Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ajantha Mendis, and Kane Richardson. Many teams would pay and arm and a leg to get one of these players, let alone all of them. Still, Pune have failed to click as a unit. They need to find the right combos here. Their home ground, the Subrata Roy Stadium in Pune is very similar to Eden Gardens, which is home to the Kolkata Knight Riders. It gets slower as the game goes on, and spinners will find good purchase here. So Pune need to find the right combination now. I think that it’s time for Yuvraj Singh to step up and bowl. Due to their “almost nothing to lose” situation, they can safely leave out Ashok Dinda for Parvez Rasool, the J&K offie. Another thing they could do is leave out Kane Richardson for Ajantha Mendis. This will give them the kind of combination that the Kolkata Knight Riders had last year, and which worked so well on their home track.
The other big thing the Warriors seem to be missing is a good captain. Angelo Matthews – as we’ve seen – was a flop as both leader and player. Only Ross Taylor seemed pretty good as a captain, but his poor form caused him to be dropped from the side. Aaron Finch hasn’t been amazing as a captain, and I think Pune should try either Yuvi or Smith as captain. Yuvraj has been very mediocre as a player, but Smith has been one of Pune’s sole bright spots. Trying either of them won’t hurt, as they really need to try for a good combination now.
Pune Warriors India were probably the most unlucky team in IPL 2012. They began with a bang, beating KXIP, MI, and CSK in 3 of their first 4 games. However, they could only manage one more win in their other 12 games. Their side’s first piece of good news will be Yuvraj Singh’s return to cricket after being diagnosed with cancer in 2011. Some other good news for their side will be Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Marlon Samuels’ good form. Other than that, Ashish Nehra and Rahul Sharma will have this chance to make the selectors take note. Strangely, PWI released two of their best performers: Steve Smith and Jesse Ryder. Along with them, Micheal Clarke, Callum Ferguson, Tamin Iqbal, James Hopes, and Nathan McCullum were some of the big names to leave PWI. Looking at their performances in IPL 2012, I believe that Pune’s bowling has never been a big problem. It’s their batting. Their batting has constantly choked. Probably because of Saurav Ganguly’s inability to have a decent strike rate, or the fact that they didn’t give their performers a fair chance at the top of the order. Whatever it is, I feel that Yuvraj’s return will help rectify that. Still, I believe that they need a top-order batsman, overseas or domestic, who is in form. They might want to consider Luke Pomersbach, who hit a brilliant hundred for Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash League semifinal. Another option would be Aaron Finch, who also exhibited good form in the BBL. If they have that, then their all-rounded middle order consisteng of Yuvi, Marlon, Luke Wright and Angelo Matthews, can definitely do the rest.
Yuvraj Singh (c)
Robin Uthappa (wk)
If extra spinner is needed, Ali Murtaza comes in for Nehra
If extra pacer is needed, Wayne Parnell (or Alfonso Thomas) comes in for Marlon Samuels
If Wright is not allowed to play be ECB, then Finch comes in for him
The Mumbai Indians were, until 2011, the costliest franchise in the whole of IPL. Their team has always been on the favorites list since the inaugural IPL, with players like Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh, and Lasith Malinga in their ranks. However, they didn’t win anything until CLT20 2011, whic
h they were least expected to win owing to the injuries of several players (the irony there is so thick you could cut it with a knife 🙂 ). After releasing 6 players, in the form of Clint McKay, Davy Jacobs, Richard Levi, Thisara Perera, Sujit Nayak, RP Singh, and Jaydev Shah. And they have finally managed to find a good opening pair for Sachin in the form of Dwayne Smith, and Dinesh Karthik has taken the keeper gloves. However, the Little Master (“God” knows why he’s still called that 😛 ) has been going through a very rough patch in his test career. However, he has also retired from ODIs. That means that other than the Australia tests, it’s very unlikely for him to have to play any international cricket until the South Africa series, that is supposed to take place sometime in November 2013 and go on till January 2014. This could either be a good thing, or a bad thing. A good thing, because MI will get a fully rested Tendulkar for IPL, bad because he might have lost whatever touch he had in the last couple of tests he played. However, I think that it’s very unlikely for the later to happen. All the same, MI should have a back up option in the event that Sachin is out of form. Even though that is extremely unlikely that he will be so woefully out of form for IPL (like most players, he has that magic touch that always appears during the IPL and mysteriously disappears after). And for those rare instances, I would say Jesse Ryder would be a great option. He hasn’t played much cricket off-late, but having him in the side will be a big boost for the Indians. If they really need Indian, Wasim Jaffer is another great option. He opened with Sachin in the Ranji Trophy, and doing it MI would bring lots of smiles to the fans. Other than that, there’s really nothing wrong with the MI lineup. Mitchell Johnson was in good form, as he gave a Man of the Match show for Australia, claiming 6 Sri Lankan wickets and scoring 92* as the Ozzies stormed to yet another test victory. Also James Franklin held his nerve as New Zealand just scrunched past South Africa by 1 wicket in the first ODI.
Dinesh Karthik (wk)
Harbhajan Singh (c)
If extra pacer is needed, Munaf Patel comes in for Praghyan Ojha.
If extra spinner is needed, Robin Peterson comes in for Mitchell Johnson
If extra batsman is needed, Dwayne Smith (or James Franklin) comes in for Mitchell Johnson
The group matches are over. The semifinals are over. The final is here. And the Highveld Lions will take on the Sydney Sixers in a thrilling contest. The Lions, using their home-field advantage, have played clinical cricket, and have edged past everyone, excluding their one game against the Sixers. The Sixers on the other hand, have utterly destroyed every team that they’ve faced so far, and despite Shane Watson’s departure mid-way, their team lost none of it’s potency. They were still strong with the bat, and clean with the ball. Brad Haddin must be very proud of his side. This game is currently being advertised as “Home favorites vs Tournament favorites”. For the Lions, their spearheads Dirk Nannes and Sohail Tanvir have done a good job upfront, and left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso has slowed down the ball as the game progresses. In terms of their batting I think Neil McKenzie and Gulam Bodi have been the top two. Skipper Alviro Petersen will want to find some form, as he’s not looked in great touch so far. For the Sixers, their batting has been lead by Micheal Lumb, and supported by Steve Smith. Still, it is their pace duo of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, assisted by Josh Hazelwood, that’s won them the majority of their games. Like I said in my previous post, this tournament has been a bowler’s tournament. With the 180 mark being crossed only twice, this tournament has been looked down on by the previous edition of CLT20, in which RCB alone hit 200+ three times in a row. Still, expect a cracking contest. And to conclude, let me give you a few clashes that should be interesting (all of my predictions on the WCT20 final came true 😀 )
Mitchell Starc vs Gulam Bodi- In their previous meeting Bodi played a valuable knock upfront, and the Lions will be more than happy if he can do it again. Starc on the other hand, would do a great service to the Sixers by removing him early.Micheal Lumb vs Dirk Nannes- Nannes has been pivotal in getting early breakthroughs for the Lions. Lumb, on the other hand, is someone who can either lay anchor, or go for it from ball one. So if Nannes can remove Lumb, nothing like it.
Steve ‘O Keefe vs Neil McKenzie and Sohail Tanvir- In the second semifinal, O’ Keefe bowled very economically, despite going wicketless. So if McKenzie can latch on to him, it will be a big bonus for the Lions. On the other hand if O’ Keefe can knock over McKenzie, it would make the Sixers’ day. Also, O’ Keefe openned the innings in that same game. So if he does open again, then Tanvir will want to knock him over. Also O’ Keefe won the Man of the Match yesterday despite going wicketless, which means he really hit well. So if he latches on to Tanvir, game’s on.
The CLT20 has finally reached the semifinal stages. There are many unique statistics regarding the teams that have qualified this year. For example:
1) This is the first time 2 South African sides have qualified
2) This is the first time only 1 IPL side has qualified
Still, with the threat of rain looming, this might be a flop show worse than any other. So definitely, everyone will be praying that nature decides to spare the last 4 days of CLT20 2012. Our semifinalists are the Sydney Sixers, who stormed unbeaten into the semifinal, the Titans, who have played exceptionally good cricket, except for their unsuccessful encounter with KKR, the Highveld Lions, who have put on an excellent show with both ball and bat to qualify, and the Delhi Daredevils, who’s pace battery and beefed up batting lineup have not yet failed. So far this CLT20 has been more of a bowler’s game. The highest score is 188. That says it all. And because of the constant rains, I think the pitches are supporting swing and seam better, which would explain DD’s success with the ball. So expect some cracking cricket. Here are the upcoming fixtures:
Delhi Daredevils vs Highveld Lions (Today, 8:30 PM)
Titans vs Sydney Sixers (Tomorrow, 8:30 PM)
THE GRAND FINALE! (28th October 2012, 8:30 PM)
So now you know when to get the popcorn out, let me brief you on some of the key players:
Morne Morkel: He has been brilliant so far. He has led the Delhi attack strongly, but can he click when it matters most?
Neil McKenzie: The Highveld batsmen has been in good form throughout the tournament, and if he can get going, the Lions will definitely have something to roar about.
Steve Smith: Though his batting has not been extraordinary, Smith has shown maturity as he has batted according to the conditions, and he will be a deciding factor for the Sixers
Jacques Rudolph: He’s shown extreme maturity on the top of the order, and laid foundations for many of the Titans’ innings. And his performance could well be the deciding factor for the Titans.
Another player who will be of importance is AB de Villiers, who recently underwent fitness tests. It’s unlikely that he will play, but if he does, then the Titans will definitely be a force to be reckoned with.