The IPL season is on in full swing and 52 matches have been completed out of 72 league games. I am continuing to watch most of the games and am enjoying the matches. I thought about posting on this blog for the past few days, but somehow could not bring myself to do it. One of the reasons was that I did not have anything new to say other than what we are seeing regarding the matches. However, it has been a long time since my previous post and so I decided to do this one. My next one will probably be after the finals where I will do a review of the entire tournament and present some possible gains and disappointments regarding Indian cricket.
* At this stage, Delhi and Kolkata seem to have sealed their spots for the knock-outs. I suspect Mumbai will also make it. The last spot will be a fight between Rajasthan and Punjab, with Chennai and Bangalore having an outside chance. My money is on Rajasthan at this stage, particularly with the class of Watson and the match-winning abilities of Shaun Tait. I dont think CSK or RCB will make it this year. CSK is looking a little flat in their performances and in my opinion, Dhoni is experimenting too much, especially on the field with his batting order and choice of bowlers at crucial stages. The reason RCB probably wont make it is simple - their bowling is very weak
* I am loving the fact that Sehwag and Gauti are both in red-hot form at this time. With Gauti, it was a matter of time before he came back to form, but Sehwag's form is heartening, especially because the reason he is in this form is simply because he has chosen to spend more time in the middle and play a lot straighter (in the V). Since we know Sehwag for a while now, I wont get too excited and start to think this is the beginning of a change in his attitude since we know he can easily go back to his old ways. So lets enjoy his form while it lasts and hope he continues this thinking in ODIs and Tests as well
* I always used to like AB De Villiers and his uncomplicated style of batting, but after the game which he won almost single-handedly against Deccan Chargers, I am now a big fan of him. He is, what I call, a complete package. He can score all around the wicket, score quickly with orthodox shots, at the same time, possesses some of the most unconventional shots in the game as well and the skill to execute them when needed most. In my opinion, after this IPL, his will become the most important wicket for opposition teams when they play South Africa in the future
* Sunil Narine is another cricketer I am enjoying watching in this IPL. I would say he is one of the smartest buys in the entire roster of cricketers this year. One of the reasons he is so successful, in my opinion, is the pace he bowls at. I have seen other bowlers with good variations as well, but Narine is so successful because he bowls at a quicker pace than the others. So the time for batsmen to pick him and decide how to play each ball, is much lesser than with other bowlers like Murali or Ashwin or even Mendis. Of course, Narine is also very accurate, so the margin for error for batsmen is almost zero
* One good thing I am seeing in this IPL, is that a lot of Indian cricketers who are doing well, are very young. Last year, Paul Valthaty did well, but he was 27 years old. This year, the trend is that if a cricketer does well and I start to think that he could be a good prospect for India, I hear that he is 19 or 21 or 22. Some examples are Mandeep Singh, Pawan Negi, Ashish Reddy, KP Appanna. I will write more about the gains from this tournament in my next post which will be after the IPL is over
* When IPL5 started, I was wondering if it will invoke and sustain interest in the public and in me since it is a very long tournament and there is a possibility that people could be burned out by too much cricket. But it is good to see big crowds at almost every game and what is helping is the fact that there have been a lot of close games. In fact, this IPL has seen more close games than any other edition in the past. There has not been a super over yet, but lots of games have gone into the last over and several of them have been decided on the last ball. That has sustained the interest and with only 20 games to go before the knock-outs, I think the interest will continue
* One other observation I made, and I saw this in a few articles as well, is the lack of proper off-spinners in the IPL and the abundance of left-arm spinners. I remember being worried a few months ago that India does not have a good left-arm spinner other than Ojha who, for some reason, does not get picked regularly for ODIs. If I were to have a choice between off-spinners and left-arm spinners, I would choose to be in the situation we are seeing now with lots of left-arm spinners, but very few off-spinners. The reason is, for ODIs and T20s at least, a lot of batsmen can bowl off-spin like Sehwag, Raina, Rohit. But left-arm spin is a specific craft and anyone cannot just turn up and bowl left-arm spin. So I am not complaining with this situation that we are seeing in the IPL
I think I have captured a lot of my thoughts. Now it is up to you guys to come out and talk about yours. Lets see some comments. I was happy to see 5 comments on my IPL-preview post, but I saw none on my previous post. IPL is one tournament where everyone has lots of varied thoughts and opinions, so lets share them here and discuss.
As I wrote earlier, my next post will be after the IPL finals where I will try to list the gains and disappointments with respect to Indian cricket, so stay tuned.