The tournament has almost arrived. The warriors from the eight teams are all set to put the politics and everything apart from the cricket behind and ready to shrug it out in the stadia (of course followed by the impressive post match parties at night). It would be unfortunate if I didn’t check the teams and see how they stack up!
Chennai Super Kings: One of the most consistent teams of the IPL – finalists in season 1 and semi-finalists in season 2. Led by the very able MSD, there seems nothing different that won’t put them in my top favourites to make it to the semis, technically! Realistically though, I probably feel that might just miss the bus this year.
Upside: MSD and his never-say-die spirit will rub on to his men as well. Hayden back from hibernation should be destructive as ever. Their all-rounders pack seems a killer combination.
Watch out for: Justin Kemp – another big hitter in this line up of big hitters is a great inclusion and with Oram having to probably sit out due to injury, he should probably play.
Downside: The bowling – though you can never count Ntini and Murli out, but you probably wouldn’t count them in these days either! Hayden after hibernation, if rusted, would not be very happy news for CSK.
Deccan Chargers: Winners of last year’s tournament have had two very extreme outings – last and first. Would they finish somewhere in between this year, difficult for me to say!
Upside: Adam Gilchrist and Andrew Symonds can literally decimate any attack on their day. A very decent batting and all-rounders troop to choose from should simplify the captain’s job (or may be not).
Watch out for: Ryan Harris – he’s been one consistent performer in the shorter form of the game but is a part of Australia’s test squad and should miss all of March. Roach and Ojha should also be doing well in the bowling department.
Downside: Where’s Scotty Stiris? Somehow don’t seem to stitch things together. The IPL 2 too saw them just about make it through despite stomping in their first four matches.
Delhi Daredevils: This team is one of my favourites as far as a balanced outfit goes. The explosive batsmen just never seem to end and a strong bowling attack to back them up. A sure pick for the semis though they seem to have messed it up thereafter on both occasions.
Upside: Imagine this as a batting lineup – Sehwag, Warner, Gambhir, Dilshan, AB Devilliers (and Nannes being the fourth international pick). Need I say more?
Watch out for: Obviously – the above play together. Now that’s what you’d love to pay money for in a T20 game!
Downside: Nehra is prone to injury and Parnell just got smacked all over during the India-RSA series. There is a possibility of getting after the bowling, but I’d call that only as a possibility and the oppositions only hope!
Kings XI Punjab: A consistent outfit back by an effervescent co-owner in Preity Zinta, this team only just lost out last year’s semi final spot. Like me and million others, they’d probably want to do very well just to see Preity smile.
Upside: Kumar Sangakarra – He’s doing a great job leading the national side. Under him, I’d be disappointed if they don’t make it to the semis.
Watch out for: Sangakarra – the third captain of foreign nationality. Was he in terrific form or what post the terrible test series in India? Yuvraj Singh – he may have got the axe as a captain and that might just push him to a new level; just to prove a point! I’d love to see Kaif as a dark horse!
Downside: Injured and rusty! Yuvraj, Lee, Marsh have all been injured off late whereas Sangakarra, Jayawardene, Bopara have been out of action for a while!
The second and concluding part of this series can be viewed here.