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The IPL Trading Window – MI

Vinay Kumar is one of MI’s 3 new imports for the year. (Image from gocricket.com)

The IPL Trading window has been going very well so far. I’m personally very happy to see that teams are actually using it this time (as opposed to last year), and I’m also glad that I can actually understand why the teams made the decisions they did.

The Mumbai Indians have been the most active, dropping 2 of their players and acquiring 3. The two players they dropped were Praveen Kumar and Michael Hussey.

With PK, I can see why they did what they did. The seamer was, after all, only a replacement for Zaheer Khan, and while he did not underperform, he did not do enough to give MI enough reason to retain him. Still, I personally would have thought that MI would have done well to retain PK, owing to the fact that Zak is injury prone.

With Hussey, however, I was more surprised. Although he had a poor showing in the UAE, he made a strong comeback in the India leg of the tournament, and brought experience to the playing 11 that would have been much missed after Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement. This again shows the fickle nature of the Mumbai Indians unit in terms of their player choices. Players such as Richard Levi, Davy Jacobs, and Corey Anderson were all players who delivered momentary bursts of brilliance, and were immediately snapped up by the franchise. However, when they failed to show, they were discarded almost as quickly as they were purchased. Jacobs and Levi were dropped following the 2012 IPL, and Corey was not a part of the playing XI for any of MI’s games in their forgettable CLT20 run this year. Same thing has happened to Hussey here. I’m guessing that it’s because of the unexpected rise of Lendl Simmons as an opener. His revolutionary rise to the occasion when Mumbai were all but out of the IPL is probably what inspired them to give him their slot for overseas opener.

Now on to their purchases. With Unmukt Chand and Parthiv Patel, I believe that it is yet again a part of Mumbai’s black hole desire for opening batsmen. Since Tendulkar’s retirement and Dwayne Smiths’ leaving MI, they have been searching for that suitable pair to open the innings. Hence, players like Hussey, CM Gautham and Ben Dunk were tried, but in vain. This, I assume, is just a continuation of that need to fill the void. Parthiv Patel was scintillating for RCB in the first few games of the tournament, but he quickly sizzled out, and failed to make much more of an impact. Nonetheless, he has shown on numerous occasions that he can be a stable opener, and could well be the answer to MI’s opening issue. As with Chand, he received well below his due playing time in IPL 2014, which I assume is due to Karun Nair’s extraordinary form. However, he can be a forceful opener for the MI squadron, and I feel that spending some time under greats like Tendulkar, Johnty Rhodes, Shaun Pollock and Anil Kumble would give the youngster an excellent chance to hone not only his cricketing skill, but his leadership skills as well. This experience could be one that would prepare him to be a future leader of India.

As for Vinay Kumar, the only reason I can find for their picking him is Zak’s injury situation. Although he is by no means a very economic bowler, Vinay is an aggressive wicket taker, who can choke oppositions at the right times. The Karnataka skipper also brings some experience with him, which can be useful for nurturing some of the other young bowlers in the MI squad.

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Kolkata Knight Riders: Season Preview

As done with the last several posts, watch my podcast for my ideas on the squad as it came fresh out of the auction:

Following their purchases in the 2014 IPL Auction, the Kolkata Knight Riders received much criticism from people for picking a squad of either out-of-form or rejected players. While that is true, one cannot forget that the players in their lineup are match-winners, and have made a great impact in the IPL. For instance, Robin Uthappa has not played an international match since 2012, but we all know what he has done on the IPL platform in the past. Vinay Kumar had what was probably the worst night of his life during the final India Australia ODI in Bangalore, where he went for 102 in 9 overs, but his death bowling for RCB is still something to remember. Piyush Chawla also came into their ranks, and while he is not the most reliable spinner in the world, he may be a wicket taking partner for Sunil Narine. Nonetheless, this IPL will need to be a wake-up call for Yusuf Pathan, who despite being brought back by KKR, received only Rs. 3.25 crores (roughly $540,000), which is a 75% paycut from his original $2.1 million in 2011. On paper, the KKR squad looks fairly strong, with other quality overseas recruits like Jacques Kallis, Shakib Al Hasan, Morne Morkel, and Chris Lynn. Although the rustiness of their armor might turn on them, KKR still have the potential to pull off something spectacular.

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

Manish Pandey

Jacques Kallis

Gautam Gambhir (c)

Robin Uthappa (wk)

Shakib Al Hasan

Ryan Ten Doeschate

Yusuf Pathan

Vinay Kumar

Piyush Chawla

Sunil Narine

Umesh Yadav

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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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What a T20 side needs

So everybody knows about the T20 World Cup which is coming now right? So now here I’m about to give some advice on what a good strong T20 side needs. So here we go:

1) Always have a 6th and 7th bowler : A 6th and 7th bowler can be very useful and can offer a hand should 1 or 2 of your bowlers go expensive. If you have a fragile, or inexperienced bowling attack, then you must have 2 back-up bowling options. Chances are that you won’t have to use them, but better safe than sorry. You can either use your 6th and 7th bowler up-front and run through a few overs just in case, or keep them until 1 of your bowlers go expensive. These back-up bowlers need not neccisarily be fully-fledged all-rounders, but simply batsmen who can bowl, like Tillakaratne Dilshan or Virender Sehwag.

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Virender Sehwag

 

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Tillakaratne Dilshan

2) Play experienced bowlers over experienced batsmen Just as important as it is to have good experience in your batting, it’s very important to have experience in your bowling. Also on slow pitches, it’s important to have a bowler who can use the conditions to his advantage. And other than that they can give advice to the younger bowlers of the side, and also be the ‘go to’ man if the bowling plans don’t work. This is very relevant because even if your batsmen put up a sturdy total, it’s important to be able to back it up or else the opposition will plunder your bowlers. A vivid example of this is when the Deccan Chargers played 4 overseas batsmen and despite putting up a daunting total of 187-4, Delhi Daredevils chased it comfortably in 16.4 overs. All because of inexperience in the bowling lineup. So no total, not even 293 is useful unless you are able to defend it. So its always important to have an experienced bowler in your bowling attack. People like Zaheer Khan and Lasith Malinga fill that role with pleasure.

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Lasith Malinga

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Zaheer Khan

3) Always play bowlers who can bat: Having bowlers who can chip in a little with the bat is great in all 3 formats of the game, especially in the T20 format. The special part about having a strong tail, is that they can hit the ball well, irrespective of the pitch conditions, and give you a bit of extra insurance in conditions where the pitch is slow, or high scoring. So if you have 1 or 2 bowlers in your lineup who can bat, then you can be assured of a few runs extra down the order even if you lose a few batsmen cheaply. And in the T20 format, even those few runs can be the margin between victory and defeat. Bowlers like Vinay Kumar and Praveen Kumarare good at this.

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Vinay Kumar and Praveen Kumar

4) Always have good fielders: In the T20 format, it’s very important to save as many runs as possible in the field, because in T20s, the results can be decided by a margin of even 1 run. And also good fielding can choke the batsman for runs, forcing them to do something rather rash and get out. Also, very quick fielders can turn singles into wickets, and win lost games. And other than that, the runs saved on the field will come back as a bonus on slow or high-scoring tracks. Also, even if you are unable to include all of your more better fielders in your playing eleven, then you must use them as substitutes for slower fielders. players like Virat Kohli, and AB de Villiers are some of the greatest fielders of our time.

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Virat Kohli

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AB de Villiers

5) Always have a fully-fledged all-rounder: It may be the last point, but is easily the most important. You must always have an all-rounder who can be equally dangerous with both ball and bat. This is very useful as he can run through 4 overs for your side, as well as hit some runs for you with the ball. Also an all-rounder can be the pivot around which your side is balanced. For example the Chennai Super Kings side was balanced around their all-rounders Albie Morkel and Dwayne Bravo, who did their job very well. Another few such all-rounders are Jacques Kallis and Andrew McDonald. Both of them, put in a situation, can fire with both ball and bat. And if they fail in any 1 department ,you can trust that they will do well do well in the other.

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Jacques Kallis

Andrew McDonald

 

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