After enjoying the World Cup win of India for the past few days, I am enjoying the next cricket event, IPL. I found out during the first game that Dish Network is covering this year's IPL for a fee and I purchased the package immediately. I have been watching most of the games and am having a good time watching some pressure-free cricket and closely following and observing some teams and cricketers in particular.
I thought about what I should write and whether I should write about some topic or just post some thoughts. After some deliberation, I decided to just post some random thoughts regarding the IPL teams and some players. So here they are after 1 week of IPL action.
* Sachin continues to bat like in recent times, with the manner of a guy in complete control and knowledge of his game. He has added one more feather to his overflowing cap - a T20 century. This guy is amazing. You can see that he is enjoying every moment of his batting these days and if he continues with this mindset, he will definitely rack up a few more centuries before he retires and opponents should be very afraid of this Sachin.
* Dhoni's instinctive captaincy and luck continues to be with him, as can be seen from the close win over KKR in the opening IPL game. For the sake of Indian cricket, I hope he continues to back his instincts and hunches and follow that mode of captaincy rather than adopting the safe method of captaincy that Azhar was famous for and that Ganguly adopted in his later years as captain, where he lost his oomph as captain.
* Mumbai is looking like the best team in this year's IPL, just like last year. Their batting is very strong, almost reminds me of the Indian line-up, where they have about 6-7 batsmen who are each capable of winning a game single-handedly with their bat. However, this year, their bowling is not as strong as last year. They appear to be relying too much on Malinga and if he fails, like he did in their previous game against Kochi, they will struggle to contain good batting line-ups and also to get wickets.
* Of the 2 new teams, I think Pune is better than Kochi. Both have good batting and slightly weak bowling, but of the two, I think Pune is looking better because they have some good T20 specialists like Thomas, Parnell, Murali Kartik, Uthappa and the father of IPL cricket, Yuvraj. We should consider Yuvi as the father of IPL because it was his 6 sixes and 30-ball 70 in the 2007 T20 World Cup that gave BCCI the confidence to start a tournament in parallel with ICL.
* Of the other teams, I like KKR and of course, Chennai. KKR has made some good buys this time and have a good, solid batting line-up with some anchors and some big hitters. Their bowling also looks decent with some fire-power in Brett Lee and some good bowlers like Shakib, Iqbal Abdulla and Balaji.
* The team that looks a lot weaker than previous years in Delhi. They are top-heavy in Sehwag and Warner, but the rest of the batting and the bowling is not that great.
* Rajasthan is also not that strong, though Watson's return will significantly increase their firepower. Once again the onus is on Shane Warne regarding whether he can extract optimum performances from his motley crew of average players and lead by example, like he did in the first IPL year 2008.
* I have made a note of a few players that are doing well and that I would like to see do well this year in the interest of Indian cricket. From the first week of IPL, the shining star is definitely Paul Valthaty. He appears to have a good technique, I have noticed that his bat appears to be coming down straight for most of his shots even if they are hit to the off side. That is a good sign. It shows that his basics are strong. But there does appear to be a little desperate feel to his batting where he seems to want to go hard at every 3rd or 4th ball he faces. That is one trait he will have to work on, patience. If and when he makes it to the Indian team, he cannot expect to hit every 3rd or 4th ball to the boundary. He will have to develop the art of waiting for the right ball to hit and concentrate on strike rotation in the mean time.
* A few other players I want to see do well in this IPL are - Irfan Pathan, Praveen Kumar, Ishant Sharma, R P Singh, Ambati Rayudu, Rohit Sharma, Deepak Chahar, Varun Aaron, Pragyan Ojha, Amit Mishra, Ashok Menaria. I will be watching the performances of these players in particular and keeping an eye out for new talent as well
* On the whole, my wish from this year's IPL is to find some good bench strength for India, especially in the bowling. With Zak probably leaving in about 2-3 years and Harbhajan also looking to be in his twilight instead of prime, we need to find a few good bowlers to carry the attack in the future and I hope this IPL will show us some players in that regard.
Lets hear it from you guys now. IPL is a long tournament, but pressure-free cricket because there is no country involved. So lets continue our discussion about cricket and lets share thoughts on the games and players in this year's IPL.
I will continue to post regularly through the course of the IPL, so stay tuned.