Friday 25 April 2014 

Comment - IPL7 Has Made A Perfect Start

Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi has been one of the venues where the Indian Premier League 2014 has made a good first impression
© REUTERS / Action Images
 

We are on the 10th day of IPL7 and any doubt about the success of this season can be put to rest now.

There was a big concern before the start of this season about how the people in the United Arab Emirates will react to this tournament, but we have seen full houses in almost every match even on weekdays - keeping in perspective that no Pakistan players are involved in the tournament.

This is exactly the kind of opening IPL would have wanted after the controversies and allegations that were hovering before the start of the season.

Coming to on-field performances, as I am writing 11 matches have already been played, the last being the match between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders, the same match where Chris Lynn took the gravity defying catch.

To start with there were many one-sided games but as the tournament is progressing, teams are getting their combinations right. The last two matches have been quite close and we can expect many more close games in the coming days.

Looking at the performances of different teams, there is no doubt that the Kings XI Punjab has been the most dangerous and consistent team so far. Their success is largely due to the presence of two Ms in their team who are in red hot form, Glenn Maxwell and David Miller.

Maxwell has already scored 279 runs in three matches at a strike rate of mind boggling 212.97. To date, they achieved 100% success rate winning all three matches and are the team to beat in this tournament.

The Chennai Super Kings seemed to have got their combination right after their first loss against Punjab. They have strengthened their bowling by including Ishwar Pandey and Ben Hilfenhaus which was a great move that paid dividend as Chennai won the last two.

They have always been the most consistent side of IPL history and will look to keep it like that. The return to form of Ravindra Jadeja is good news for Chennai as he is an integral part of team’s setup.

The Royal Challengers Bangalore have been good too, winning their first two matches quite convincingly before losing the thriller against Kolkata when they looked all set to score a hat-trick of wins.

They failed to score 29 off 26 balls with eight wickets in hand but they literally choked and Lynn’s catch proved to be the turning point. Bowling was expected to be their weak link but the likes of Varun Aaron and young leggie Yuzvendra Chahal have been outstanding.

As expected, their batting has been solid even without Chris Gayle who is yet to play a match due to a back injury.

We have seen full houses in almost every match even on weekdays - keeping in perspective that no Pakistan players are involved in the tournament.

This is exactly the kind of opening IPL would have wanted after the controversies and allegations that were hovering before the start of the season.

The Kolkata Knight Riders have been very competitive this time around winning the first match easily against listless Mumbai while losing the second one to Delhi Daredevils largely due to the heroics of JP Duminy.

Their third match against Bangalore was a classic one as they snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with some exceptional bowling at death by Vinay Kumar. Adding Lynn to the playing XI proved to be a masterstroke and it has to be seen how he plays from here on.

Jacques Kallis has been quite consistent with bat along with Manish Pandey while Sunil Narine is leading the bowling chart.

Both the Rajasthan Royals and the Delhi Daredevils have been blowing hot and cold losing two out of three matches. Delhi have been without the service of their captain Kevin Pietersen which seemed to have dented their morale. Their batting has been struggling with the exception of JP Duminy who has been impressive.

The Royals started their campaign with a win over the Sunrisers Hyderabad but went on to lose the next two against Punjab and Chennai. It is very hard to pinpoint what is not working for them but James Faulkner’s performance with the ball has been a disappointement. A lack of genuine match winners with bat and ball could be hurting them too.

The Sunrisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians are been battling at the bottom of the table after losing both of their matches. Both have match-winners in their ranks but Mumbai’s combination and Hyderabad’s top three batsmen are the main concern for their respective team.

It is hard to imagine why Rohit Sharma cannot play as an opener when he can do it for India. Also they are still not certain whether to go with four or five bowlers. Mumbai have a lot to think about in their coming matches on their batting and bowling fronts.

In both their matches, Mumbai failed to cross the 125-run mark while the bowlers failed to take wickets in the middle overs.

Sunrisers Hyderabad probably has the best top three batsmen which is turning out to be their biggest headache as of now.  Aaron Finch, Shikhar Dhawan and David Warner have failed to live up to their reputation and led the team down.(Editor's note - as this piece was being loaded to the website, they were doing a much better job against the Daredevils.)

Dale Steyn and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have been consistent in their bowling while the others need to back them well.

It is still very early to conclude anything on any team but whoever got off to a good start definitely have the edge over the others. If Maxwell keeps on batting like this then Punjab will be invincible while Delhi will be looking forward to having Pietersen in their XI as soon as possible and for as long as possible.

Kolkata and Rajasthan will strive to be more consistent while Chennai and Bangalore are looking good.

Mumbai has the players to match any team but the think tank needs to give a serious look at their playing XI. Sunrisers on the other hand will keep on struggling until two out of top three fires.

© Cricket World 2014