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February 7, 2009

Indian Premier League - Season 2 !!

The auction ahead of the IPL's second season was, as expected, a tactical exercise. Most franchises came with clear-cut ideas and with the aim of finding the ideal mix in their squads. Let's have a look at how the teams look like after friday's auction.

Source: www.cricinfo.com

Bangalore Royal Challengers

When the team rosters were fixed last season, many commented on how the Bangalore squad was in stark contrast to the flamboyant image of its owner Vijay Mallya. A 'Test batting line-up' comprising Rahul Dravid, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Jacques Kallis and Wasim Jaffer now has a limited-overs sheen with the induction of Kevin Pietersen, New Zealand's Jesse Ryder and local boy Robin Uthappa. Although Bangalore sold Zaheer Khan, they are boosted by the availability of Nathan Bracken, injured through the first season. However, like Pietersen, he might be available only for a limited period. Though the attack will be led by Dale Steyn, there are a few doubts over Bangalore's ability with the ball. Anil Kumble is unlikely to play and Praveen Kumar is their only current India international on the flat tracks of the subcontinent.

Kolkata Knight Riders

The big boost for Kolkata is the availability of explosive New Zealand wicketkeeper-batsman Brendon McCullum - who scored the most famous Twenty20 century in last year's tournament opener - for the whole season. Chris Gayle was unfit last time around and Kolkata will bank on his all-round abilities to help them build early momentum before he leaves for national duty. Mashrafe Mortaza, a popular signing at the auction, could find it hard to fill Umar Gul's shoes but Ajantha Mendis could be their ace. Ishant Sharma flopped last season but he has vastly improved his skills for the limited-overs game in the past year. Also in the mix are local lad Ashok Dinda, who impressed last season, and former India internationals Ajit Agarkar and Murali Kartik, one of the key bowlers in Middlesex's successful Twenty20 campaign.While Ricky Ponting and allrounder David Hussey may be called on for national duty, fellow Australians Brad Hodge and Moises Henriques, the young New South Wales allrounder, will fill the breach. Cheteshwar Pujara, considered by many to be an India prospect, could well be a value addition.

Deccan Chargers

They finished bottom last season but their moves this time don't inspire much optimism. Deccan's batting woes were well documented - Shahid Afridi, Herschelle Gibbs and Scott Styris failed to make an impact - but their bowling was the weakest in the competition. RP Singh was unable to repeat his ICC World Twenty20 heroics, while Chaminda Vaas and Nuwan Zoysa posed little threat. This time, Deccan brought Fidel Edwards and another West Indian, the allrounder Dwayne Smith, having signed Australian allrounder Ryan Harris before the auction. Edwards is quick but he can be an expensive gamble in the Twenty20 format. Good news for Deccan will be left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha's impressive tour of Sri Lanka with India.In the batting department, only Adam Gilchrist, Rohit Sharma and Venugopal Rao performed well last season. Deccan will be keeping close tabs on Andrew Symonds. If his exclusion from the Australian side is prolonged, Symonds could be available for the entire season, a much-needed boost for the side. Whether VVS Laxman, who was replaced as captain, will be a regular in the team this year remains to be seen.

Kings XI Punjab

Punjab, semi-finalists last season, are largely sticking to the line-up that helped them succeed last year. Their only signings this season are West Indies fast bowler Jerome Taylor and England allrounder Ravi Bopara. Opener Shaun Marsh could be away on duty for Australia and that would be a concern for Punjab, with Brett Lee and James Hopes also set to miss out. They bid frantically for Mortaza, perhaps to ensure having a bowler available for the entire season. A surprising fact that emerged at the auction was that Ramnaresh Sarwan was not on a three-year contract with Punjab - he remained unsold at this auction. What could be worrying, though, is the form of Sreesanth, whose fortunes too have been on the wane since he picked up an injury during the tournament last season. Punjab's Indian bowlers had done the trick last season, and their team could suffer if that is not the case this time.

Chennai Super Kings

Imposing is the word that best describes Chennai's squad after the second auction. A team modelled around Mahendra Singh Dhoni now has the inspirational Andrew Flintoff - commanding a higher salary than Dhoni - and Matthew Hayden is also available for the full tournament. Hard-hitting allrounder Albie Morkel, Man of the Series in Australia recently, is another of the team's key players, and the embarrassing wealth of talent shows in the fact that Michael Hussey, Muttiah Muralitharan and Jacob Oram have been overshadowed. Flintoff bolsters the bowling while Sri Lankan left-armer Thilan Thushara could be the dark horse among the foreign recruits. Chennai's third signing at the auction was Tasmanian batsman George Bailey, but he is unlikely to feature given the team has consistent performers in Suresh Raina and S Badrinath. Another big plus is that barring Flintoff and Hussey, all their foreign recruits are available for most of the season.

Delhi Daredevils

Delhi no longer have Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Asif, but their line-up is even more dangerous this season because of David Warner and the England duo of Owais Shah and Paul Collingwood. Delhi have reason to be pleased with their homework before the Goa auction; their scouts had been lurking around Australia and they have brought in potential impact players. Warner's sensational Twenty20 international debut against South Africa whet the appetite and there are other hopefuls from Australia in allrounder Andrew McDonald, who too debuted for Australia after joining Delhi, and left-arm fast bowler Dirk Nannes, an out-and-out Twenty20 specialist. Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir are undoubtedly the most potent opening combination in the tournament, while Glenn McGrath and Daniel Vettori bring the experience to the bowling. The likes of Tillakaratne Dilshan, AB de Villiers and Dinesh Karthik have been in good touch so far this year. With most of their foreign players free for tournament, the only headache for Delhi could be getting their XI right.

Rajasthan Royals

The inaugural champions managed to work out a winning formula under the guidance of Shane Warne, and expect more of the same this year too. Their Indian players were not the best of the lot, but Warne turned them into a formidable unit, and found two highly successful foreign recruits in Sohail Tanvir and Shane Watson. Tanvir is unavailable and Watson doubtful due to Australia's schedule and fitness worries, but Rajasthan have found adequate replacements at the auction. Shaun Tait is tailor-made for Twenty20, capable of short bursts of quick bowling, and Tyron Henderson, one of the surprise picks at US$650,000, has been highly successful for Middlesex. It will be a tall order to match Watson's heroics from last season, but Henderson is an impact player in this format. The team will also be boosted by the availability of Morne Morkel and Justin Langer. Both missed the inaugural edition due to their commitments with English counties. Dimitri Mascarenhas could also fill in as an allrounder but Rajasthan's main worry would be Graeme Smith. His might undergo surgery on his elbow after Australia's visit to South Africa, which could put his IPL participation in doubt. Nonetheless, the champions have proven themselves with lesser-known names.

Mumbai Indians

Mumbai made three buys in the auction. JP Duminy was snapped up for a whopping $950,000, while Mohammad Ashraful could be a steal for the Twenty20 format at $75,000; in between, fast bowler Kyle Mills, who will help compensate for the missing Shaun Pollock. Zaheer Khan, on current form, is a vital addition to cover up for the South African's bowling skills. In another swap, Mumbai sold Ashish Nehra and brought in Delhi's Shikhar Dhawan, a move to compensate for Uthappa's departure. Dwayne Bravo, a successful replacement player for the team last year, was given a permanent deal. Two other key signings also came before the auction. They are limited-over specialists from the English county circuit, allrounders Graham Napier and Ryan McLaren - a Kolpak player South Africa wanted to get back after their ODI losses in England last year.
The team has three Sri Lankans in Sanath Jayasuriya, Lasith Malinga and Dilhara Fernando, all of whom are available for the entire tournament. Mumbai were unlucky last time to miss Sachin Tendulkar, who was injured, and Harbhajan Singh - banned for his infamous slap - for the bulk of the tournament. If they manage to get it right, they would perhaps be able to do justice to Mumbai's tag of domestic giants.

After all this.....I can just say only one thing.....BRING IT ON !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

4 comments:

Megha said...

Dunno if IPL will be hit again ?

Amit said...

hmm..well if it goes ahead..i am hopeful its gonna work...ironically due to election dates and terror attacks in Lahore..there r plans to shift it to more cities...which augers well for IPL...since new cities would accept it better...lets wait n watch..i hope recession doesnt take its toll in cricket crazy public of India :)

Satans Darling™ said...

I could not watch the slap :( live. I saw it one year later :|

Hopeless Romantic said...

@Ashrita

lol, it was the most costliest slap in the Indian history, close to 3 crores!

Commiseration to bhajji and Sreesant!

Cheers,
Amit