The first delivery IPL faced, I don’t really know what happened because the pitch was so damned dusty that nothing could be seen for a few moments. But once the dust (read: money) settled, all I could see was an exciting prospect, with great teams! I bet there have been a lot of articles on what the IPL could do to World Cricket, will the players choose clubs (read: money again) over country as is the case in NBA or almost the case in European Football! I don’t want to talk of the kind of help it does or doesn’t to the condition of our domestic cricket. My piece is actually meant to launch myself as a cricket analyst. It’s my turn to play Harsha Bhogle!
Let me start with the Chennai Super Kings (owned by India Cements), who bought M.S. Dhoni for an astounding 6 crores! Their batting line up is a pretty good one with Hayden (Aus), Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Stephen Fleming and Jacob Oram (New Zealand) being part of it. With Ntini (South Africa) and Muralitharan (Sri Lanka) the bowling department also seems satisfactory. The fielding looks pretty neat too with Raina leading the pack!However they have a stiff challenge to overcome in the form of team Hyderabad. Symonds, Gilchrist (Aus), Shahid Afridi (Pakistan), Herschelle Gibbs (South Africa), Rohit Sharma and VVS Laxman are capable of annihilating any bowling attack. The bowling department with the experienced Vaas (Sri Lanka) and the young RP Singh looks decent. Though Nuwan Zoysa could turn out to be the weak link. Mean while the fielding seems superb with both Gibbs and Symonds sharing the field. If Symond is in Chennai, Preity Zinta’s Mohali has Yuvraj ‘the 6-pack’ Singh! Along with him the Lankan duo of Sangakkara and Jayawardena make quite a menacing batting force. However with Irfan Pathan, Sreesanth and BrettLee (Aus) in their ranks, they have arguably the best bowling department. The fielding, with Yuvi in the side looks better than good!If the Prince is in Mohali, the Maharaja is in Kolkata, owned by another King- King Khan! The batting line up boasts of the fiery Chris Gayle (West Indies), Ricky ‘no one’s better’ Ponting (Aus), and Ganguly. The bowling looks good too with the Rawalpindi Express Shoaib Akhtar steaming in from one end and the lanky Ishant Sharma from the other. Ajit Agarkar could, however turn out to be a bad buy! Ponting is brilliant on the field while the rest (leaving out the King) are good enough! Now then, after the Prince and the King comes the God and he is in team Mumbai! Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar leads from the opening slot with the 38-year old Lankan, Jayasuria and the young Uthappa. Pollock (SA), Malinga, Fernando (SL) and Harbhajan make up the bowling attack. Okay again. However, you never know with the Gods!! The fielding is just about above average on the whole.Another team that looks well equipped is the Bangalore Royal Challengers. With Dravid, Kallis, Boucher (SA) and Chanderpaul (WI), its batting looks steady on paper and Zaheer Khan, Nathan Bracken (Aus), Dale Steyn (SA) and Anil Kumble make up for a pretty fine bowling attack. The fielding though is pretty average. Then come our very own Delhi Daredevils. Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Shoaib Malik (Pak), Tilekratne Dilshan (SL) are fine T20 players. Bowling shouldn’t be a problem with Mcgrath (Aus), Mohammed Asif (Pak), and Vettori (NZ)! The fielding is as good as Mumbai’s.And now the team that looks the weakest on paper- Jaipur. Graeme Smith (SA), Younis Khan (Pak) and Kaif lead the batsmen, while Munaf does it in the pacers department! Doesn’t look that good? The only bright spot-the return of Shane Warne! I guess the only way they could do some damage would be if Warne could deliver a few of those balls of the century! The fielding would even itself out with Kaif and Munaf at the two opposite extremes!If you ask me, my bet is on Hyderabad though Mohali or Chennai are as good or as bad. These are the BIG 3! Kolkata seems to be the dark horse at the moment. Mumbai and Bangalore will need some inspirational performances by their ICONS (read: SACHIN and DRAVID). Delhi is a young team and the T20 format always favours a young team for an outside chance. And with Mcgrath you never know!However for Jaipur, I only have this to say- Warne…save them!!!Purav Goswami
[image courtesy: http://www.timesnow.tv/ImageGallery/N2685.jpg]