Tag Archives: Chennai Superkings

7 Things I learned from this year’s IPL

The IPL tournament just got over and my home team Chennai Super Kings won it all. They have been the most consistent team through the first 3 years of the tournament: 2 Finals (1 W, 1 L) and 1 semifinals. No other team even comes close. The entire 2010 tournament lasted about 7 weeks. Here are the 7 things I learned from this IPL (for the sake of symmetry):

1. Old batting stars look, well, old: The IPL tourney included¬† a handful of players who have been out of international cricket for a while and are not even playing domestic cricket. Case in point: Adam Gilchrist, Mathew Hayden, Damien Martyn, Sanath Jayasuriya. Both Gilly and Haydos at least had couple of shining moments, but Marto was utterly disappointing. Wonder Warne took him in his team just for ol’ time’s sake! The exception to this rule was Sourav “Dada” Ganguly. He kept getting better as the tournament wore on and even his fielding and catching was unlike what we have seen before from him. Perhaps, he had a point to prove and wanted to show his team of underachievers how its done. The old “bowling” stars still reigned supreme. Anil Kumble and Shane Warne were beyond belief. Simply superb!

2. Sachin Tendulkar has mastered another format of the game: This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. 2008 season was injury-plagued for Sachin and 2009 was so-so. As we saw from him in 2009-10 international fixtures, he has found the fountain of youth. He quite easily became the leading run getter of the league stage. He never resorted to ugly slogs like VVS did and showed everyone he is in a class all by himself. He also showed his true grit by playing the final match even with 5 stitches in his hand. Take bow, Master!

3. Sreesanth is like a dog’s tail – Cannot be straightened out: After the slap-gate incident, the new and improved, and seemingly contrite and looking to be under control Sreesanth vowed that the days of acting like a petulant teenager are long gone. But, that behavior reared its ugly head yet again this year! From mocking the batsman who just hit him for a four, to sarcastically applauding the umpire who called him for no balls,¬† Sreesanth was well and truly, back to his own child self. Its a crying shame that a talent like him is getting lost in all the hoopla and hype that is Indian Cricket. There are very few bowlers that can swing the ball away from the righthander at such good pace like him but he needs to screw his head back on straight, pronto! The proverbial rope he may get with the administrators and fans of Indian cricket is fast running short.

4. Kolkata Knight Riders are not the most dysfunctional team: That title, at least for 2010, goes to the Kings XI Punjab. The captaincy was taken away from their icon player, Yuvraj Singh, during the off-season, and given to Kumar Sangakkara, which led to news/rumors that Yuvi is extremely unhappy with the Kings XI set up and wanted to move to Mumbai. Though these reports were laid to rest by the team management and Yuvi himself, he didn’t seem to be clicking on all cylinders for his team. It seemed like he was not very interested. This team was the most up and down team of the league. They lost matches they should have won walking away! When their batting clicked, their bowling was abysmal and vice versa. After the early days experiment with Bopara up top, Sangakkara brought Mahela Jayawardene in as the opener and he served his captain well. Irfan Pathan looks a shell of himself. The guy is a lasting evidence of the effect Greg Chappell has left on Indian Cricket. The local indian domestic players did not contribute much to the team’s success, which segues nicely in to the next item on the list. Did I mention Sreesanth is part of Kings XI? ‘nough said.

5. You win with domestic players: Since 7 of the 11 players in a team are Indians and quite possibly, 5 of those 7 do not have international experience and are not big name stars, a team can win consistently if these 5 players can step up to the plate from time to time and contribute to the team’s cause, as bowlers or batsmen. Mumbai showed the blueprint for this. The Indian duo of Ambati Rayadu and Saurabh Tiwary held the Mumbai’s middle order together. They played a cautious game when the chips were down and drove home the advantage when the openers gave them a platform. The Deccan Chargers benefitted from the bats of Monish Mishra and more significantly, Tirumalasetti Suman. Even the Chennai Super Kings solved their opening bowling blues by having the local talent R. Ashwin to bowl off-spin with the new ball. The Kolkata Knight Riders suffered most acutely from the lack of performance by the local talent.

6.¬† Indian pace bowling stock is threadbare: Besides Zaheer Khan, there were no noteworthy and consistent performances by Indian pace bowlers. The two (medium) pacers from the Royal Challengers Praveen Kumar and Vinay Kumar benefitted tremendously by bowling alongside Dale Steyn and the miserly wizard, Anil Kumble. The batsmen had to take the chances against these two bowlers (PK and VK) and hence, these 2 got a bucket load of wickets. For the sake of fairness, PK bowled well with the new ball but as it got older, his lack of pace became painfully obvious. Some of the names that were on everyone’s lips the past 2-3 years, Ishant Sharma, RP Singh, VRV Singh, Sreesanth etc., were extremely disappointing. The young lad, Umesh Yadav, from Delhi Daredevils looks like a promising fast bowler. Ashish Nehra is still too inconsistent for my liking.

7. I Can’t figure out the Delhi Daredevils: This batting lineup boasted a cavalcade of stars: David Warner, Virender Sehwag, Dilshan, Gautam Gambhir, AB De Villiers, Dinesh Karthik (and towards the end, Paul Collingwood). Their bowling was nothing to sneeze at either with Dirk Nannes, Amit Mishra, Sangwan, Nehra. Yet, they did not even qualify for the semifinals. Gambhir seemed to be a capable captain and put the responsibility on himself to bailout the team in tight situations, such as the match against CSK in that electric oven in Chennai. They were surely put back in some key games by top order collapses. Too many batsmen in the same mold? Perhaps.

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Chennai Super Kings make the final of IPL 2010

Today, I wore my Chennai Superkings shirt (of Dhoni #7) to work. Hey, you gotta support your team, even if you are 8000 miles away! CSK took on the Deccan Chargers, the champions of IPL 2009, in the 2nd semifinal of the 2010 tournament. On paper and form, DC had the upper hand, but the way CSK stormed in to the semis gave us – the loyal CSK fans – a lot of hope. since the IPL games start at a slightly awkward time here in the eastern coast of U.S., I although have a subscription to a live stream of the games, I cannot really watch ’em all. Usually, I just leave the cricinfo window open and the stream running with the headphones on. So, if a wicket falls or something real exciting happens, I take a quick gander at the video stream.

I was a bit nervous at the start of the game but Dhoni won an important toss. I am of the opinion that, in a big game, its always better to bat first. The first few overs were horrendous to watch as a CSK fan. Mattie Hayden looked completely out of sorts but M. Vijay was looking his usual self – stylish and aggressive. Thanks to atrocious catching by DC, the damage was slightly delayed. At 29/3, it was rebuilding time for CSK and, Dhoni in the company of Badrinath went about it quite admirably. The top order collapse, probably had something do with the good bounce off the pitch and a little bit movement that was available for the bowlers. When it looked like Dhoni had got his eye in and was ready to kick on, one of the finds of this IPL – Harmeet Singh, took him out with a wide slow leg cutter. Albie Morkel tried the big shot a little too soon and perished in the deep. A little bit of big hitting from Anirudha Srikanth took Chennai to a reasonable total, that they could defend, if they bowled and fielded well.

Sometimes, I wish I could be a fly on the wall and listen in on these pre-game or change of inning talks by the captains and coaches of professional cricket team. I wonder what Dhoni must have told his teammates before going out to defend 142. He seems so serene on the field, perhaps, he is a little more fiery in the dressing room.

Ashwin and Bollinger came out and put on a show on how to defend a moderate total, in a big game. They both gave no easy deliveries for the DC openers. Kept a good length, changed pace, provided no width for the batsmen to get a free swing of the arms. The pressure started telling on Gilly and Gibbs. I thought Gibbs was an interesting choice by DC to bring in to this game. He had been off-boil throughout the tournament and seemed out of sorts. He missed the games leading up to the semis and to suddenly bringing him in for the semis was an odd choice by Gilly. Yeah, he is (mostly was) a great player who can swing the game quite quickly but why would you wanna change your top order suddenly. I thought the line up of Gilly, Monish, Suman, Rohit sharma and Roy were doing the job for DC.

Gibbs, by struggling to get the ball of square, put pressure on his partners, i thought, and made a routine chase, a big messy affair. To CSK’s credit, their bowlers stuck to their task with a very solid effort by their fielders. Took their catches, kept the pressure on DC through the chase. Slowly, and very surely, they choked the run flow and pushed the DC batters in to indiscretions from which there was no coming back. Eventually, CSK won by 38 runs and now, have a date with the Mumbai Indians on Sunday. This is gonna be a tough match to watch as any red blooded Indian cricket fan, cannot really be rooting against a team that has Sachin Tendulkar in it. I hope for the sake of all the CSK fans, SRT does not play the finals so that we can all support CSK without any guilt.