There are at least four IPL teams which are eagerly awaiting the conclusion of the ongoing Australia-West Indies Test series. The completion of the series brings in four vital Australians to participate for them. Through this article, I would like to analyse which one of these teams gets the biggest trump card of all.
The big four Australians on whose presence the morale of their respective IPL teams will get a huge boost are:
When you buy a big fish like Michael Clarke, you will be tempted to fit him inside your playing XI no matter what. Besides, you cannot get patted on the back in appreciation if you had the captain of the Australian Test team sitting in the dug out as a mere spectator. Michael Clarke, as a batsman, can thrive well in any conditions and in particular if he has to play in subcontinent he can be a real danger guy. Unlike other Australians, he is very good at playing vertical bat shots, a skill which is normally required while playing in conditions such as India. He may not be a Gayle but certainly is one of those players who can score runs at a fast rate without slogging. The sheer presence of Michael Clarke in a team like Pune Warriors where there are no other big stars, will further strengthen them. With already four wins under their belt from the eight matches so far, they can expect a much better winning percentage if Clarke arrives. If Ganguly gets assisted by the intelligence of the Australian Test captain, he can really do wonders as the captain of Pune Warriors. But one big problem Pune may face with the advent of Clarke is his accommodation in the team – he cannot be asked to sit on the bench; simply because he is a captain of an international team which can be termed a cricketing giant. Now, it is time for us to see who he can replace. Jesse Ryder of New Zealand is probably in an irreplaceable position. He is doing well as an opener and even otherwise Clarke is not going to come in for him,as he is a middle order batsman, and won’t be expected to do an opener’s job. The next one is Steve Smith. He is an all-rounder and bowls decent spells every time he bowls and also is a very good striker of the cricket ball. He has been very good so far, batting down the order and has had won at least two of the matches for the team. So, Clarke cannot become his replacement. Then there is the Sri Lankan all-rounder, Angelo Matthews. He may not have done well so far if you go by the standards that he has set, but his all-round ability has always been talked about and known internationally. When in form, he can be more than a useful batsman in T20s. Now, the only person left is Marlon Samuels. This West Indian, though economical, his bowling has come under scrutiny by the umpires on the field. Compared to the other three, he cannot be called a very good striker of the ball. He has not done so well with the bat as yet and so if anyone, Clarke should be replacing him. With Marlon Samuels if Pune is winning 50% if their matches then with Michael Clarke they can win 70% which is good enough for them to get qualified. So, I conclude Clarke is the best bet for Pune without a doubt.
He is called Mr.Cricket for a good reason – he never plays many dot balls. He tries his best to score runs from every ball he faces. It is the most important thing when you play T20s. If he receives a bad ball in between, he never fails to make the most of it. In this manner, he keeps accelerating the scoring of runs. Such a free scorer is essential for any T20 side. So, when he finishes his West Indies tour and joins the Super Kings, the franchise and M.S.Dhoni will be left with a very difficult task of fitting him in the playing XI. Among the foreign players they possess, three of them pick themselves – you cannot do without Dwayne Bravo who in addition to being a very useful all-rounder, has always been a great fielder. He can turn things around pretty easily whenever he is at the crease. Then there is Faf du Plessis. Originally he was given a place in the playing XI as a stop gap arrangement for Mike Hussey. Now, with the way he has been performing this season, he has cemented his place in the team and is in contention for the Orange Cap. He is aggressive as an opener and the way he has started his innings thus far has switched the momentum in CSK’s favor on more than a few occasions. Then there is someone who can fetch a victory from the jaws of defeat – Albie Morkel; who is a decent bowler too. Though gives away runs at times, he has an uncanny knack of getting wickets. Plus, those who would have watched him scoring 28 runs for his team in one single over against RCB, cannot think of anyone as a replacement for him. So, these three players are almost there and so when Michael Hussey joins the team, there will be only one slot left for him. That slot would most likely than not be reserved for a specialist overseas bowler as CSK is not regarded as a good bowling unit – so, either Bollinger or Kulasekara will be the fourth foreigner in the team hands down. Therefore, though Chennai have Michael Hussey, they might be faced with a tough task of managing their overseas players. Thus, Chennai has more things to ponder about rather than rejoicing at the sight of Hussey. Chennai’s victory graph will be the same as it is now even after the entry of Mr.Cricket.
We will soon be seeing swash buckling lofted drives, square cuts, switch hits and so on when Warner dons the role of opener in the team of the Daredevils. When he partners with Sehwag, the bowlers from other teams will be left with no choice but to get plundered for runs. If even he scores only 20 runs in an innings it will be equal to scoring 40 runs as Warner is very good at saving runs as a fielder. The Delhi Daredevils are already at the top of the table with ten points and have lost only 2 matches. They have a star studded batting line up and a very good bowling attack. Warner’s entry will be Kevin Pietersen’s exit this year as far as Delhi is concerned. Pietersen has been the star performer for Delhi so far but he has to fly back for national duty. So, unlike other teams, Delhi will find it easier to fit Warner in the playing XI. Of course, an opener cannot be reckoned as a replacement for the middle order batsman but still Delhi is fortunate to have an opening batsman who is equally aggressive as Kevin Pietersen, if not more. Even that won’t be a problem for them as Mahela Jayawardene who is now opening can be pushed down the order and he would fit in easily there. Besides, they have Ross Taylor who adds a great value to the team’s batting line up. As far as their bowling is concerned, Morne Morkel is doing a great job and the team generally is performing well in every department of the game. The inclusion of Warner in the playing XI is going to be a boon for Delhi which looks sure to enter the last four unless they play very badly here on. He will be the perfect person to fit into the shoes of Pietersen. Delhi will look ominously dangerous for the other teams of IPL if they see Warner and Sehwag at the top of the batting line up.
When the Australians got defeated by the Englishmen in the Ashes, the role of Andrew Flintoff as an all-rounder was quite sublime. Since then the Australians were trying to find a sequel for Flintoff and they found Shane Watson. Any all-rounder who gets you two wickets in a match and scores a quick-fire 30 or 40 is said to have won the match for your team. Shane Watson is such a guy who can win matches and that is what is important. Rajasthan Royals have done well by having Watson with them in all the IPLs they have played so far. In this particular IPL, without the services of Watson, till date they have won four matches out of the eight they have played which is quite phenomenal. No one believed that they would perform this well at the start of the IPL 2012. But, they have surprised quite a few and a few surprise packages which they have added by selling Ross Taylor have really given their best to the team. Until now, at least two of their four foreigners have permanently figured in their playing XI since their performances were rather excellent. Either you take Owais Shah or Brad Hodge they have given their best and so they cannot be replaced at all in the team. Cooper, as a bowler has done well for them so far in the team and he also chips in with runs whenever necessary at the bottom. So, we can say Shah, Hodge and Cooper may be in the XI without any problem. Now what they look for is the fourth foreigner who can do a great job for them. When Watson comes he is an automatic choice for them. Rajasthan are left with eight more matches and even if Watson plays in seven of them, they are going to win at least four of them which will be good for them to be in the last four. Watson may be opening the batting with Dravid and which will force them to play Rahane in the middle order. This will strengthen their batting as they already have too many aggressive T20 players.
In all, I have rated below the four franchises based on their gain after the Australia players join them.
3.Pune Warriors and
4.Chennai Super Kings.