SO, you’ve spent anywhere up to $333m in buying your franchise, nearly $10m assembling a handful of world-class players, and you’ve dusted down the mantelpiece in anticipation of showing off your brand new, shiny Kingfisher Fair Play Award.
Now, just sit back for eight weeks, and hope that everything clicks into place, whilst you console Preity Zinta as she holds back the tears every time a young Kings XI bowler gets hit for six. Sounds great, right?
In theory, yes. You’ve done the groundwork, and it’s too late to entirely overhaul any struggling personnel.
But, in this fast-moving tournament, it is wise to live by this mantra: If you’re not proactive, you’re inactive.
Staleness and complacency can creep into sides, as and poor tactics and strategy will inevitably be the bane of your side.
With that in mind, out of the goodness of my own heart, we have devised report cards for each team – please note that grades are not just based on overall performances, but also based on how each side is faring with their available resources.
Record: W2, L3
Star Player So Far: Ravi Jadeja (yes, seriously)
Where have they struggled?
Up top. Murali Vijay has looked a shadow of the IPL specialist he once was. With 31 runs in 5 innings, time is running out for the other Murali.
Luxury of choice. Ravi Jadeja has come in and done brilliantly, but as Albie Morkel put it perfectly: “When you have a big batting line-up, you sort of lose your responsibility as a player, because you know that you have guys behind you.”
Albie Morkel’s bowling has always been a liability in the IPL, with an econ rate of 8.40 and overall average of 28.8. So far, he has just two wickets in five matches.
In our hearts, Jadeja will always be a Kochi player. #NeverForget
Batting. As Albie Morkel intimated, having a deep batting line-up is a double-edged sword. This year, they have The Beast coming in as low as no. 8, and Ravi Ashwin – with a Test century to his name – coming in at no. 9. Chennai have tried to have a fluid batting order, which essentially means demoting the ever-luckless Badrinath in every innings! Faf du Plessis has been the surprise package so far, with 171 runs at a strike rate of 144.9.
They know how to win. Even though Chennai have got off to a rocky start, it is unlikely that they will go on a downwards spiral – once they get on a run, they will be fiercely competitive. Having chased down 205 against Bangalore, Chennai showed why they are two-time defending champions – scoring 64 off the last four overs of a chase is unheard of, and a feat you wouldn’t back any other team to achieve.
How can Chennai improve?
Murali Vijay isn’t just out of luck; he is totally out of form. As a result, Badrinath is being wasted down the order – give him a promotion to the top, and bring in Shadab Jakati for Vijay. Both Dhoni and Raina have generally disappointed so far – in five games to date, Dhoni has only managed four boundaries (three of them coming against RCB). Doug Bollinger is Chennai’s best pace bowler – in fact, their only passable one – yet they dropped him for their last game against Pune. Doug ‘The Rug’ Bollinger must be an aut0-starter for Chennai to reach the final four yet again.
Take a bow, Doug…take a bow.
Report Card: CSK are definitely struggling more due to the lack of pushover sides this season. As a team, they’re still playing in first gear, with an air of stale complacency, in stark contrast to their ruthless and clinical approach to previous editions. After five games, it’s a C for Stephen Fleming’s side.
Record: W0, L3
Where have Deccan struggled…?
At the auction, and now with their batting, bowling, strategy, closing out a game…erm, well, everywhere. Let’s put it this way: the only place Deccan haven’tstruggled is with Darren Lehmann clearing out the hotel buffets.
What is the point of appointing a female anchor if you are going to show only Darren Lehmann’s face?
— IPL RAGE (@iplrage) April 7, 2012
Deccan’s current batsmen have just 9 IPL fifties in 107 innings batting for them, an astonishingly poor record. This is in large part due to their stuttered batting order, in which they have generally insisted on sending lesser-able Indian batsmen for an early innings momentum kill. Deccan have been consistently unable to recover, and the ‘Bharat Chipli goes cheaply’ joke has been done to death.
Deccan have made a habit of selling their best players. At this level, the best overseas players are hard to pick apart in terms of quality, so it should make little difference if you get rid of a Gilchrist and replace him with a Sangakkara.
However, Deccan will continue to struggle due to their poor Indian stocks – in the past two seasons alone, they have managed to get rid of Rohit Sharma, Rahul Sharma, Pragyan Ojha, Harmeet Singh, and RP Singh. Goodness knows what Deccan’s strategy at auction has been, but it’s one that even Arsene Wenger would raise eyebrows at.
Dale Steyn. The South African has been a phenom so far, terrorizing all-comers, and bowling one of the best overs you will ever see to Richard Levi in the nail-biter against Mumbai.
Potential. On paper, Deccan match most teams in terms of international quality – Sangakkara, Christian, Duminy, Steyn make for a dynamic quartet, and the IPL has seen worse opening partnerships than Dhawan and Li’l Parthiv Patel.
Where can Deccan improve…?
With two reasonable knocks, it remains to be seen as to whether Cameron White has exited his prolonged slump – with 52 runs in two innings, he is already only a handful of runs away from eclipsing his Big Bash League total. However, JP Duminy has undoubted pedigree in this format, and as well as being an exceptional fielder, he can also chip in with a few overs – Deccan correctly made a tough call in dropping White for their third game, and Duminy duly came good with a superb knock off 56* off 24. Frankly, Duminy’s non-selection is such a howler that it should call Lehmann’s competency into question.
JP Duminy – all class, he would slot into most sides in the world.
Ever since Darren Lehmann took charge of the Chargers, he has looked to promote his mediocre Indian batsmen above his international superstars. It’s fine to give them a chance, but once they have failed more than an old Nokia searching for 3G reception, you’ve got to bin them.
In T20s, you MUST have your best batsmen facing the most overs - Rajasthan have proved this with Rahane and Shah – yet Deccan still haven’t cottoned on to this seemingly obvious fact. The logic to the promotion of Chipli seems to involve sandwiching an inadequate batsmen in between two quality batsmen, and hoping that it will turn out right. In reality, Chipli just isn’t talented enough, and his slow starts in the past two seasons have put pressure on the better batsmen, stifling the early runs and putting the Chargers well behind the eight-ball early on.
After over a season of faffing around, Deccan finally cottoned onto this fact in their third game, having Sangakkara opening with Dhawan, along with Christian and Duminy following at 3 and 4. No surprises then, that they looked a totally different unit, scoring 195. Better late than never, eh? The lower order is weak, but if one of their international stars bats through, they should be well set for most games.
Report Card: If only Deccan hadn’t sold some of the best Indian players on the circuit, they’d be one of the teams to beat. As it is, they’ll be struggling uphill this year – they must do some serious soul-searching and look at the sheer number of quality players leaking out.
Sure, the transfer money is obscene for Indian players, but I bet it doesn’t come close to offsetting the inevitable losses from finishing bottom of the pile. Only three games in so far, Deccan get a C. The Chargers seem like the classic side that need to ‘learn to win’, and they could well get on a decent run.
Record: W3, L1
Star player so far: Ajit Agarkar.
Where have Delhi struggled…?
Delhi’s sole loss came in their second game, where they failed to chase RCB’s 157. In this match, they lacked any sort of direction in the middle order, but Delhi can afford to write it off as a blip. This is due to the fact that since that game, they’ve been blessed to have Kevin Pietersen, Mahela Jayawardene and Mr Midwicket himself – yup, it’s Ross Taylor – slot into the top order. With Sehwag to boot, this really is the stuff that cricketing wet dreams are made of.
Even Kevin Pietersen has confessed to being “emasculated by Ajit’s sheer presence.”
Bowling. Morne Morkel has only been matched by Dale Steyn this season in terms of sheer pace and all-out brutality. He has been a revelation for Delhi, and his success is in large part due to his ability to land toe-crushing yorkers. For the first time in five seasons, Delhi have bowled as a unit, with Umesh Yadav and Shahbaz Nadeem backing him up impressively. In fact, Morkel has been bowling so well that he’s even threatened to outshadow the mighty Ajit Agarkar.
Batting. Spare a thought for poor Naman Ojha, who opens the innings, and has to somehow keep pace with Sehwag (front-slogger), Pietersen (clutch), Jayawardene (finisher), and Ross Taylor (back-end slogger). Delhi not only have quality, but they have brilliant balance. Pietersen has looked especially good in his two innings to date, and after a long time, there is finally a palpable sense of ‘uh oh, this could be ugly’ when a bowler trundles up.
The Original KP is at his best when he is enjoying his game, and this whole tournament suits him perfectly – after a gruelling winter with England, the IPL is his deserved dessert. Pietersen will be challenging for the (garishly fluorescent) Orange Cap this year.
GQ Magazine never did get in touch with Kevin Pietersen…
Where can Delhi improve…?
Apart from opening the batting and bowling with Agarkar – lest we forget, he is the man with a Test century at Lord’s, and who is also the (former) fastest bowler to 50 ODI wickets- Delhi don’t have much improving to do. They have a wealth of experience. I’ve never been convinced by Sehwag as captain – he’s far too ‘meh’ to be a good leader.
However, with Pietersen, Jayawardene and Taylor, they have three others with vast experience, and various captaincy stints under their belt. The only area Delhi need to improve in is their no. 7 batsman. I rate Y Venugopal Rao highly as an arse-saver, lifeboat type of batsman, and he deserves to be an auto-starter.
Report Card: If Sehwag is allowed to be Mahela’s captaincy puppet, Delhi could well win the tournament. After a great start, they deserve an A.
Record: W2, L3
Star players so far: Preity Zinta, closely followed by the highly-skilled army of cameramen who zoom in on Preity’s pretty face after every wicket, four, six, single, and strategic time-out/cold shower.
Preity, there’s a 0.1% chance you’re reading this…we should totally go to dinner so I could choke on some food, sneeze out a a hunk of broccoli, and go back to wishing I could go to dinner with you. Just once.
Where have Punjab struggled so far?
Batting. Adam Gilchrist has looked a shadow of his former self, and former IPL great Paul Valthaty has been in such poor touch that he has been dropped altogether. Shaun Marsh remains the IPL’s all-time most successful batsman, but he has continued his unconvincing form from earlier this year. David Hussey is – by a distance – their best batsman, what what damage can he do, if you keep sending him in at no. 5?
It’s a familiar story from throughout this analysis, but it’s plain for all to see: your best batsmen MUST play for as long as possible.
Shastri on Gilchrist: “His family is here, he’ll be looking to make an impression.” Really? On his children?! #IPL
— Alternative Cricket (@AltCricket) April 18, 2012
In Preity Zinta and Piyush Chawwwwla, Kings XI Punjab boast the most pinchable cheeks in the competition.
Punjab wearing green helmets in recognition of energy conservation. Quite appropriate – Preity could light an entire city with her smile. — Alternative Cricket (@AltCricket) April 18, 2012
How can Punjab improve?
Ask their team mascot, The Dalai Lama, to pray for their sins, because Punjab are my strong favourites for the wooden spoon.
MR LAMA! NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO PLAY HARD TO GET!
With Gilchrist and Marsh out of nick, and a dearth of quality Indian batsmen, Punjab have about as much chance of making the semi-finals as I do of eloping with Preity to Acapulco, where Lalit Modi serves us Pina Coladas on the shorefront. Well…I guess I’m cheering on Punjab now.
Report card: Kings XI Punjab get a D-, but only because I couldn’t bare to see Preity’s face if she found out I flunked her team.
Record: W3, L3
Star player so far: The TSA employee who violated Shah Rukh Khan.
Sunil Narine was a big buy at $700,000, but so far, he has bamboozled all-comers. Expect him to challenge Malinga for top wicket-taker, as tail-enders run down the pitch and walk past a delivery that fizzes past the edge – Narine is wickedly difficult to pick, and even the best will struggle against him.
Middle overs bowling. Batting sides are usually looking to accelerate from the 12th over onwards, but with Narine, Bhatia and Balaji, Kolkata have the best unit in terms of slowing down momentum. Bhatia and Balaji have proved virtually unhittable with their accurate slower balls on the Eden Gardens dustbowl.
Where have Kolkata struggled so far?
Yusuf Pathan – better known as ‘The Bear Jew’ – has looked bang out of form, and totally unreliable as a lower-order smash-and-grab merchant.
Gautam Gambhir is taking this tournament very seriously. Perhaps oo seriously. Every time the camera pans to Gambhir in the dug-out, he looks like a cop straight out of a film noir, in deep self-contemplation.
Always a good sign to see happy faces in times of strife.
After five seasons, Kolkata keep making the same mistakes. KKR after famous for their unerring ability to make the worst out of a good situation, and this is because despite always having one of the best squads, and always ending up in match-winning positions, they have often found a way to stuff it up.
KKR have had tried four different 1-2-3′s in their first six matches, and are evidently clueless as to what their best team is. The latest iteration of Kolkata’s top order is their most illogical yet – Jacques Kallis is a liability if not played as an opener, and realising he would stride out at no. 4 against Punjab was a true facepalm moment. They also have no idea who their best overseas players are, and world-class ODI all-rounders Shakib-Al-Hasan and Ryan ten Doeschate must be wondering what they need to do to get a run of games!
The big dilemmas that KKR have at the moment are with McCullum and Kallis – two players who haven’t performed to their best, and in McSlogga’s case, outright overrated. There’s no doubt that Kallis is one of the greatest, but in this format he tends to put pressure on those around him, and is best suited to the lower chases, but it’s tough to see him scoring a match-winning knock in a chase of 200. Ten Doeschate is a quality player and a like-for-like replacement, except that he’s more dynamic than Kallis in this format.
Not even Jacques Kallis’ O-Face can tempt us to change our mind.
Bringing in Shakib for McCullum is more of a no-brainer – in awesome form through the BPL and Asia Cup, Shakib should have been an auto-starter for KKR.
Kolkata’s dubious strategy of using a Random Number Generator to choose their line-up is ill-advised at best, and they clearly need some help…so let’s help them out!
1. Gambhir (captain, curmudgeon) 2. ten Doeschate 3. Bisla (wk), 4. Manoj Tiwary 5. Shakib-Al-Hasan 6. The Bear Jew 7. Das 8. Lee 9. Bhatia 10. Narine 11. Balaji
Report card: Kolkata have the raw ingredients to be champions, but year after year, nothing has changed. Despite doing relatively well so far, Kolkata Knight Riders get an F, for repeating the same mistakes over and over again. They will not win the IPL unless they consider changing it up.
Record so far: W3 L2
Star player so far: Lasith Malinga, who keeps proving himself as the best T20 bowler in the world.
Where have Mumbai struggled…?
With Tendulkar out with a damaged thumb – [insert Hand of God reference] – Mumbai’s heart (and liver, kidneys, lungs) is absent. Without Tendulkar, the Mumbai batsmen have panicked like Jesse Ryder at a salad bar.
The manner of dismissals should be most concerning for Mumbai’s South African brains trust – they have not just struggled against the quality pace of Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn, but they have lost their cool. They have attempted rash shots, and thrown their wickets away when calm heads were required.
Bowling. Mumbai did some of the shrewdest business in the transfer market this year, nicking RP Singh and Pragyan Ojha from Deccan. They are one of the few teams to have sussed that most batsmen at this level are of a high standard, and it’s the bowlers that will set a team apart. This is shown perfectly in Lasith Malinga, who has the incredible economy rate of just 4.54 in his four games to date.
Lasith Malinga is the IPL’s all-time leading wicket-taker and face-piercer.
With Malinga, Munaf Patel, Ojha and Harbhajan, Mumbai have a near-perfect top four. However, their fifth bowler has been a liability in previous seasons, and will remain that way whilst Pollard and Franklin are lurking in the background, ready to leak runs at the death.
How can Mumbai Improve…?
Richard Levi was picked up by Mumbai, chiefly on the strength of one innings - albeit an eye-catching one! Still, the IPL is littered with such let-downs and one-hit wonders, and after scoring 50 in the opening game, Levi has struggled in his remaining four innings, scoring just 22 runs. Once Mitchell Johnson enters the fold in place of James Franklin, Mumbai should have a perfect balance in their line-up.
Mumbai are another team who have a luxury of options, but their ideal team composition seems fairly straightforward:
1. Tendulkar 2. Herschelle Gibbs 3. Rohit Sharma 4. Rayudu 5. Kieron Pollard 6. Rayudu 7. Mitchell Johnson 8. Harbhajan (c) 9. Malinga 10. Munaf 11. Ojha
Against some sides, it would be good to see Mitchell Johnson promoted as a pinch-hitter. Pollard’s slot should be as a floater – he is allergic to hostile pace bowling.
Report Card: Mumbai get a B – they are heavily reliant on Tendulkar, but he should paper over the cracks.
Record: W3 – L2
Star Player So Far: Steve Smith.
Where have they struggled?
Running between the wickets. The talented Jesse Ryder and legendary-but-geriatric Sourav Ganguly make for a tragicomic pairing. After three partnerships together, Ryder has been run out twice, and Ganguly once for good measure. A remarkable stat, yet not altogether shocking.
Sourav Ganguly. It’s disappointing that Ganguly’s fitness has been so terrible, considering that a) he is captain b) he is on borrowed time c) the likes of Adam Gilchrist are still in peak fitness. So far, Pune are lucky that his negligible fitness efforts in the off-season have not permeated through to the rest of the side, but Ganguly’s role as a top order batsman simply isn’t tenable if he can’t run more than a single at a time.
As a result of this poor fitness, Ganguly’s fielding has also been embarrassing – Dada looks like he needs a golf cart to ferry him between overs, and I’m sure I’ve seen him take a puff through an oxygen mask during a strategic time-out…
The likes of Brad Hodge and Brad Hogg show that T20 might isn’t just a young man’s game; but it is certainly not a lazy man’s game.
In addition, Ganguly’s batting has never clicked in the IPL, with a lifetime strike-rate of just 108. Considering Pune have so many reasonable batsmen in their side, it is criminal that Ganguly should be allowed to waste the Batting PowerPlay at less than a run-a-ball.
Fewer more comical sights in cricket than Ganguly and Ryder running between the wickets hard for the first and both turning down the second — Achettup (@achettup) April 14, 2012
Sourav Ganguly. As poor as his fitness has been, his leadership has been decisive. The fervent support he receives from the Pune crowd have ensured that the – modestly named – Subrata Roy Stadium will likely remain a fortress for a long time to come.
Steve Smith. It’s hard to believe that as captain of the winning Big Bash League side, Steve Smith was unsold at auction, only later being picked up by Pune. He has been outstanding in the field and chipped in with some match-winning cameos with the bat. He is turning into the type of game-changing utility player who will be the envy of every team.
Was only ever going to be a matter of time before Steve Smith took over the world.
Bowling. In Dinda and Nehra, Pune have two highly experienced IPL bowlers, even if the latter has proven to be a liability at the death. History has shown that the best T20 sides have plenty of spinners, and Pune have the pick of the bunch in this tournament – Murali Kartik is a clutch slow-left armer, Rahul Sharma continues to confound with his #NotKumble non-spinning leggies, and if they continue with Marlon Samuels, then they have one of the few spinners in the tournament who is reliable at the death.
However, Wright and Mathews need to focus on bowling cutters during the middle overs – otherwise, they are medium pace fodder who most batsmen will dream about facing.
How can Pune improve?
Ganguly should be prepared for an ego-check. At the moment, he is a liability in the field but can be accommodated. However, in the batting line-up, can you afford to accommodate someone eating up balls when they should be racing along?
When Pune have to chase a big score, they will be absolutely hamstrung by Ganguly – he should be prepared to demote himself in these cases, whilst attempting to anchor the innings. My preferred option would be to have Ganguly as a specialist captain, batting at 8…but woe betide the support staff who bring up this small matter.
Replace Marlon ’730′ Samuels with Luke Wright. I rate Samuels very highly as a Afridi-esque bowler, even if his action is about as straight-armed as a darts player. However, as a batsman, he is another liability, alongside Ganguly. Scores of 4 (4), 46 (39), 2 (11), 8 (15) and 34 (20) highlight that Samuels is far too inconsistent to be trusted in the top order. After finally being warned for chucking, it’s surprising that he was picked for the next match – if he is called again, he will be banned for the season. Quite ironic, considering he is wearing the shirt number ’730′ – the same number of days he was banned from international cricket for. Martyr, much?
Marlon Samuels, midway through his quicker ball…
In Luke Wright, they have a player who can fill the 5th/6th bowler role with some – albeit superfluous – medium pace, but more importantly, a dynamic batsman who proved himself not long ago in the Big Bash League. Pune should see how Wright fares for a run of games – if he doesn’t slot in, then they still have the highly talented Callum Ferguson.
Shuffle the batting. Ryder, Wright, Uthappa, Ganguly, Smith, Mathews, Manhas, Kartik, Sharma, Nehra, Dinda makes for an exceptional line-up (Ganguly should be batting below Manhas, but that may well cause petrol bombs to be thrown onto the field). I have always stressed the need for dynamic players in T20s, the multi-dimensional cricketers who are capable of changing a game – in Ryder, Wright, Uthappa, Smith and Mathews, Pune are blessed to have five of them, along with solid bowlers. What sticks out about Pune’s batsmen is that they possess a mix of power, finesse, and unorthodoxy, and aren’t one-dimensional like some of the other sides.
Report Card: Small problems will be easily solved with common sense, Pune Warriors get an A-.
Record: W4, L2
Star Player: Ajinkya Rahane – the 23 year old phenom is leading the run charts by some distance, with 304 runs in 6 games, at a strike rate of 147.
Where have they struggled?
Nowhere, really. Rajasthan have no ostensible holes in their side, although they’d like to have had one quality Indian pacer in their ranks, and Rahane has performed so well that he’s papered over any poor knocks from the other young Indian batsmen.
In Owais Shah and Brad Hodge, Rajasthan made two of the most astute signings this year – two of the most experienced, well-travelled T20 batsmen were bizarrely unfancied by other sides. Oh, and T&T’s Kevon Cooper has been a revelation – but he can’t even get in the side because of Brad Hogg’s star turns so far. Just like in IPL 1, Rajasthan did their research and shirked the big-name superstars, going for the value buys. Once again, it is paying off handsomely for them.
Ajinkya Rahane: India’s most promising batsman.
How can Rajasthan improve?
A lot of faith has been placed in Ashok Menaria, but there is no way he should ever be batting higher than Shah and Hodge, who are world-class T20 players. Kevon Cooper was outstanding before he picked up a niggle, but he has been kept out of the side by Brad Hogg’s surprise brilliance.
After a poor return for Johan ‘The Power’ Botha, Hogg has usurped the long-sleeved tweaker as Rajasthan’s no. 1 spin option. Considering Botha’s poor form, Cooper should get back in the side as a matter of urgency – the young man showed a special spark with both bat and ball, and deserves a run until Shane Watson arrives.
Food for thought: Why does Johan Botha wear long sleeves in 100 degree heat?
Report Card: Rajasthan are the side with the least worries at the moment. Their three gun batsmen are in stupendous form, and their timing of acceleration has been something to behold. With Shane Watson to come back, Rajasthan could have a top order to die for – Rahane, Watson, Shah, Hodge would certainly match Delhi in terms of firepower and experience. Death bowling remains a concern, however, but they are the only side to get an A.
Record: W2. L3
Star player so far: Muttiah Muralitharan. With 8 wickets in 4 matches, and a miserly economy rate of just 7.00, Murali has surprised all by rolling back the years and bamboozling batsmen like it’s 1999.
Where have they struggled?
Back-up bowling. Zaheer Khan, Muralitharan and Daniel Vettori are conceding just 7.2 per over; the respective figure for the rest of the bowlers is an alarming 11.3.
Back-up batting. After one excellent season for Mumbai, Sourabh Tiwary proved to be a big-money flop for RCB – this season, he had just 44 runs in 4 innings, until he at long last hit his straps with 36* that saw his side home against Pune. His fellow middle order batsmen have not fared well at all, with Cheteshwar Pujara and Mohammad Kaif also failing to click.
Bangalore are over-relying on the awesomeness of one man. Still, if it had to eb one man…
Chris Gayle’s fitness. Against Rajasthan Royals, Gayle was carrying a groin strain, and should have been nowhere near the side in his state. He limped in the field, and bowled even more gingerly than usual, conceding a momentum-changing 21 off his over. It was no surprise to see him out cheaply, but as ever, he is an enigma – he returned in the next match, started his innings in a state of mild sedation, and then exploded with five consecutive sixes, winning the Man of the Match award for his 81.
On paper, a trio of Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers is about as threatening as it gets. Each have one fifty to their name, but they have failed to strike significant partnerships with each other.
Strike bowlers. Zaheer, Murali and Vettori have been in outstanding form, and not a single batsman has managed to break the shackles imposed by any player.
How can Royal Challengers Bangalore improve…?
Make sure that AB de Villiers always bats at no. 4, without fail. Make no mistake, RCB were incredibly lucky to sneak the last-ball cliffhanger against Pune – having both Agarwal and Tiwary batting above de Villiers was a howler they were fortunate didn’t cost them.
AB de Villiers: Striking fear into the hearts of bowlers, husbands and boyfriends everywhere.
Andrew McDonald was excellent in the one match he played, but was immediately replaced by Chris Gayle for the next – ‘Ronald’ deserves another chance at some point.
UPDATE: Chris Gayle has just arrived at hospital to see his victim, who’s in obvious distress after that assault – Ashish Nehra is in tears.
— Alternative Cricket (@AltCricket) April 17, 2012
Clearly, RCB are having massive selection issues. On form, the overseas players pick themselves – Muralitharan, Vettori, Gayle and de Villiers are each shoo-ins. However, RCB logic is not always logical – Dilshan came in for the outstanding Murali in their last game, and they duly leaked plenty.
Report Card: Last year, RCB relied entirely on Chris Gayle, and it paid off handsomely. However, it is telling that their bowling has crumbled time after time, and their batting has fallen apart when Gayle has failed. For their early-season coasting and complacency, RCB get a C-. If they get their act together, they will be the team to beat, but their gameplan is full of clutter at the moment.
Published with permission from Alternative Cricket...cricket for grown-ups.