The first weekend of IPL-4 has finished. Each of the 10 teams have played at least once, giving an indication how the teams stack up after an interesting auction in Jan earlier this year. If I have to take a punt based on the squads and first match performance, here is my top 4 - Chennai Super Kings (CSK), Mumbai Indians (MI), Kolkata Night riders(KNR) and Pune Warriors (PW).
CSK and MI, no doubt are the two best sides in the competition. They have depth in batting and bowling departments, have calm leaders at helm and have very little distractions off the field. CSK and MI no doubt will miss Murali (who is now playing for Kochi Tuskers) and Zaheer (who is back with his IPL-1 team, RCB) respectively. It will be interesting to see how they go in this season when they are favourites to make it to the final 4.
KNR lost their first game against CSK on Friday and it turned out to be the closest game in the first round of league games. They have been the most professional and clear cut in the selection of players during the Jan auction and it is evident from the fact that they have selected only 21 including just 7 foreign players. They have realised that there is no point of carrying so many players, some of them who will never get a chance of playing in the tournament and who may create negative energy. They are likely to be even further strengthened after 13 April when Australia-Bangladesh ODI series will be over. However, their problem has never been with players but ultimate selection of the final playing 11. They again made a blunder in the first game by selecting only 2 foreign players and asking Gambhir to play at no.6. They have been underdogs for some time, and by the law of averages, their time has arrived.
Pune warriors won comfortably yesterday against King11 Punjab. They used 7 bowlers, which did not included Left arm spin of Yuvraj and off spin of Graeme Smith. Their depth in bowling is amazing considering that they lost Ashish Nehra and Angelo Matthews due to injuries even before their tournament started. Only glitch is that they are not playing even a single home game at Pune - all those matches are scheduled in Mumbai. But that can turned out to be a blessing in disguise and they can play more freely to reach final 4.
I hate to say this, but Delhi Daredevils and Kings 11 Punjab are looking the weakest. And this takes us back to the Jan where the selectors sleep walked in the auction. They neither retained the existing players nor bid aggressively for most of the other competitive game-changing players. Result is pretty evident from their first matches where they were completely outplayed.
PS: IPL is known for mixing the entertainment with cricket. But sometimes, it gets frigging hilarious and extremely idiotic too.... Sample these:
1) SET Max Presenter to Dilshan: So, would you like to hit some DLF maximum today?
Dilshan to him : yes, i would like to hit some DLF maximum today (duhhhhhhhhh...)
2) SET Max Anchor to Trivedi: So, you were bowling really slow. Pitch is getting slow, isn't it?
Trivedi to her : yes, pitch is getting slow. Hence, i was bowling really slow (Right, vital information!)