IPL 2013 Team Preview – Part 1
The classical dance season has ended. Cabaret is about to begin. In case you haven’t guessed it yet, I mean the razzmatazz of IPL.
In next few weeks, Ravi Shastri will tell us all in his booming voice that no batsman is a mug with the bat and he can hit the ball like a tracer bullet. He will also tell that there is a buzz around the ground and that the atmosphere is electric. Rameez Raja will tell us that as soon as the ball is two overs old, bowlers can get the reverse swing going. Sanjay Manjrekar will tell us that IPL has transformed the lives across the universe. Every match will go down to the wire. It will start happening with such regularity that differentiating between the matches will become so impossible that one-sided matches will start looking interesting. Yet, you will follow it religiously. And yet, you will curse it relentlessly. Love it or hate it, but you cannot ignore it. Next few weeks will be dominated by IPL.
Here is first round of preview – what teams look like.
Chennai Super Kings (CSK) – Yellow, yellow, Sreeni fellow will be back. Seeing MSD, Ashwin, Vijay and ‘Sir’ play in yellow jersey may give a feeling that it is India’s Test team playing for CSK. Just in case you get that feeling, please don’t let Badrinath know about it. Captain cool or fool, what you call him mainly depends upon which side of 2nd April 2011 you are looking at. MSD will have a tougher time as compared to the last IPL. During IPL 2012, he kept a good job in keeping his critics quiet (we had just come back from a torrid Australian tour). Before IPL 2013, he has replied to his critics by bashing the Australian side and those critics would so desperately be waiting for India to fall flat in South Africa, but will pounce at any chance in this year’s IPL.
The core of the team hasn’t change over the years (mind you it was a solid core) and their batting continues to look better than their bowling. This has been the case with them all this while. Baba Aparajith will be watched eagerly. Mike Hussey will join the list of “retired cricketers who keep playing IPL just for the love of the game”. Saha will keep playing as a specialist batsman. But one man who is likely to make it a one-sided affair, the man who has forced people to quote Mahatma Gandhi while mentioning him, the man who owns a horse and may as well name it “PuP”, ‘Sir’ Ravindra Jadeja will be the one to watch out for. Especially after his stupendous performance in recently concluded Test series.
Prediction – CSK may well start by losing, get in a terrible situation and then get out of it with yellow colours. They will surely be in the last four, like all these years.
Mumbai Indians (MI) – MI will be all about just one man – Sachin Tendulkar, as it has always been. One good straight drive (all his straight drives are orgasmic by the way), and his devotees will say – “See, he can still beat the daylights out of any blowing attack”. One failure, especially if bowled, and naysayers will say – “He is done. He must retire”. MI will continue doing what they have been doing during the past seasons – Sachin giving a good start and the middle order often messing it up, quite like the Indian team of 90s.
The difference will be their captain, and it will be fun watching Ricky Ponting lead Harbhajan Singh. More than in the middle, batting in nets will be a worry for Ponting. Watching Phil Hughes bat will be fun, especially after his recent exploits in the Test series. Ambati Rayudu will make us wonder what he would have done with a bit of sanity of mind and availability of luck. Maybe Maxwell will be able to tell us why MI paid a fortune for him. Munaf Patel will keep charming the batsmen over with his fast diminishing guile and ear to ear smile. And as always, Rohit Sharma will keep redefining the word talent.
Prediction – As Ravi Shastri would put it, MI’s race for last four will be “Touch and Go”.
Kolkata Knight Rider (KKR) – The most confused group in KKR’s case will be their supporters. The people who got beaten up last time by the police during the victory celebrations in Eden will be confused – to pray for one more IPL victory and risk getting beaten up once again or not praying for a KKR win at all.
KKR, like all seasons, will continue to be one of the most entertaining teams – not necessarily in cricketing terms. Gautam Gambhir will be extra aggressive as a captain this time. Gums will be chewed with double ferocity; expletives will be puked out with triple cruelty – especially against Vijay’s CSK and the newbie Dhawan’s Sunrisers Hyderabad.
I hope Shami Ahmed learns more tricks from James Pattinson than from Balaji. KKR will always be confused in choosing the four foreign players from the army they have. If in 6 years a team cannot understand a simple fact that they can buy 100 foreign players but can play only four of them, maybe they never will. However, the man to hog the most airtime during KKR matches will continue to remain, not SRK, but Chunky Pandey – in his round blue shades.
One KKR player I would love to follow closely is the newly wed Yusuf Pathan. I would like to see if Pujara’s success after marriage was an aberration or the global warming is really changing the laws of nature.
Pune Warriors India (PW) – Without Dada, people feared that KKR might lose a huge local fan base. With Ganguly being in PWI, people felt that that KKR’s loss will be PWI’s gain. It did happen but not entirely. Watching Dada was always fun, be it in KKR or PWI. Alas, my favourite Dada’s name is missing this time in PW’s player list.
PWI will keep on giving tough fight to RCB in non-cricketing attractions. Katrina Kaif, Deepika Padukone, Diya Mirza, Sania Mirza, Amisha Patel and I don’t know how many more will be creating and IPL of its own – India’s Page 3 League (some of them might be supporting different franchisees too). But if there is one thing guaranteed in this IPL, it is that the match between PWI and RCB will be a treat to watch, and maybe the cricket will be good too.
As far as cricket is concerned, Michael Clarke isn’t playing, so ‘Sir’ Jadeja’s wrath will be distributed amongst other batsmen. With the kind of names constituting the PWI’s squad, it looks like an A-side. It will be good to see Rahul Sharma back in action. And eyes will be on Bhuvneshwar Kumar too, especially after the attention he’s got in ODIs and Tests in recent times. Ross Taylor, the man born on women’s day, will keep showing us why mid-wicket is his favourite area on a cricket field. With recent form in mind, Yuvraj will flourish and flop with familiar regularity.
One player I would watch with keen interest is Parvez Rasool. His success is critical to future of cricket in J&K.
To be continued…