The older players have shone once again in the Indian Premier League (IPL). At the mid-way stage of the third edition of the IPL, Anil Kumble heads the economy rates and Muthiah Muralidharan tops the wickets table. Similarly, Jacques Kallis holds the Orange Cap at the moment, with Sachin Tendulkar not far behind!
There’s no telling which way the wind will blow as the tournament progresses, but as of now, the 8 teams stand as follows-
Led superbly by the incomparable Tendulkar, the Mumbai team is on song and on top! Tendulkar has four half-centuries at this stage of IPL 3 and has never looked as if he’s hitting shots in anger, even though his strike rate is about 150 per 100 balls. Sanath Jayasuriya has disappointed his fans this year and has been replaced by the free-scoring Shikhar Dhawan. The West Indians, Dwayne Bravo and Keiron Pollard as still to fire but the bowling looks in great hands under Harbhajan Singh, Lasith Malinga and Zaheer Khan.
The Delhi team’s batting strength is such that a World XI would be proud to exchange line-ups! Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, David Warner, Paul Collingwood, AB Devilliers, Tillakratne Dilshan and Dinesh Karthik are probably seven of the most effective batters in the 20-20 overs format of the game today. Devilliers and Dilshan have had to sit out because of the rule that limits the number of foreign players to 4 per match. The Daredevils have pulled up their socks after a brief slump and their bowling looks in safe hands too, with Dirk Nannes and Amit Mishra being particularly impressive. Daniel Vettori, the Kiwi skipper is all set to fly in too!
Bangalore Royal Challengers-
Anil Kumble has not only bamboozled opposition batsmen with his nagging leg-spinners but he has also managed to get the best out of a very talented side. Though Rahul Dravid is still to contribute, Jacques Kallis has been in superb form, and was dismissed for the first time only in his fifth innings of this year’s tournament! Robin Utthappa and Virat Kohli have been effective too, and with Kevin Pieterson and Cameron White having joined the team now, their batting looks really formidable. Ross Taylor is expected to join too! Dale Steyn and Vinay Kumar have been in good form too, but the last two matches haven’t gone the Challengers’ way.
Kolkata Knight Riders-
A much improved showing by Sourav Ganguly’s men this time has gladdened the hearts of their fans. Ganguly himself, Chris Gayle and David Hussey have been in good form but consistency has not been their forte. Ajit Agarkar has come in at the expense of Ishant Sharma while Shane Bond has provided crucial breakthroughs of late. Murali Karthik has bowled well but has been unlucky. Ganguly has led the side superbly and the players have repaid the faith shown in them. Wasim Akram’s presence as coach is another important factor in their favour this year.
The wily old fox, Shane Warne has not been as penetrative with his leg-spinners and googlies this year, as he used to be, but he has led the mercurial Royals with the same pizzazz as he did during their amazing championship-winning campaign in 2008. They lost three and then won four matches in a row before losing to the Daredevils at the Ferozeshah Kotla. Warne is missing Shane Watson, Graeme Smith and Dmitri Mascharenus a great deal more than he would like to admit. Yusuf Pathan has been in awesome form as usual, but even his superb century in only 37 balls against the Mumbai Indians ended up in a losing cause.
Adam Gilchrist’s side has been a bit low key and has been inconsistent for the most part this year. Last year’s champs have a lot to do if they are to lift the trophy this time round. They have been sending Rohit Sharma too low down the order and have dropped the hugely successful Chaminda Vaas in favour of greenhorn quickie Kemar Roach who has failed to impress. Gilly himself, Herschelle Gibbs and Andrew Symonds have been in reasonable form but the bowling needs more bite. RP Singh and Pragyan Ojha have been off-colour in most matches.
Chennai Super Kings-
After having looked really impressive in the first two editions of the IPL (even though they could not lift the trophy), the Super Kings have been below par in IPL 3. MS Dhoni missed a few matches and big hitting all-rounders Andrew Flintoff, Jacob Oram and Justin Kemp have also been missing through injury, though Kemp played a couple of matches. Mathew Hayden, with or without the Mongoose, has not been his usual destructive self, and it has been left to Suresh Raina to hold the fort. Murali Vijay has shown glimpses of his class. Murali and Balaji have been among the wickets but CSK finds itself near the bottom of the table and is in danger of missing the cut!
Kings XI Punjab-
Their performances have been much below expectation, and with six losses from seven games, they are now simply seeking to redeem lost pride. The batting has shone only in parts, with Ravi Bopara having led the way. Shaun Marsh, Irfan Pathan and Manvinder Bisla have had one good innings each, but the mainstays- Yuvraj Singh, Mahela Jayawardene and skipper Kumar Sangakarra have failed to fire. The bowling has been dependant on Piyush Chawla. Brett Lee’s advent at a late stage has brought some spark to the team, but a lot of hard work needs to be done to improve matters. Luck has also not been on their side till now, and it is perhaps about time that the tide turned in their favour!