Two weekends in the 2013 Indian Premier League have come and gone, almost as a wind. The cricket on show has been enticing, at times a little slow and at other times the supposed entertainment took over.
The one assured aspect that came out on top though, and will continue to do so, is the ebb and flow of different teams as fortunes will change daily.
So far the match of the tournament has obviously been the one with the Super Over. Yes, there have been many intriguing, edge-of-the-seat last over finishes. But, in the Twenty20 world, nothing beats the thrill of scores being tied on the last ball and then playing six deliveries each, trying to out-do the opposition in a way you couldn't do over forty overs already played out.
This season’s first Super Over was representative of the fact that Sunrisers Hyderabad have made a splash already. Things might play out differently for them in the near future, but the new management under Tom Moody has shown enough to be able to shape up a strong plan in the coming years.
If luck turns for them, despite a not so good batting show so far, they have been able to stretch Royal Challengers Bangalore, a powerhouse in their own right.
Their mix of youth along with experience is an exciting one, reflected in the first-ball dismissal of Chris Gayle by Hanuma Vihari and the bowling is well led by Dale Steyn, on whom you can count upon to not give away 21 runs in six balls.
Gayle will probably again end up winning the Orange Cap this year. It is only improbable in the odd chance that Virat Kohli will beat him to it. Bangalore suffer from a lack of senior Indian batsmen in their wings and an excess of bowlers. While this allows them to chop and change their combination as the situation demands, it also heaps more pressure on their few batsmen. How Kohli, as a full-time captain this season, deals with that will be something to watch this season.
Talking of a lack of batsmen, Delhi Daredevils come to mind. And what a mighty disappointment their season has been so far, mostly blighted by injuries. In a way the ones to Jesse Ryder and Virender Sehwag, bad as they are, do not matter as much as the one to Kevin Pietersen.
That man single-handedly pushed them to the top of the tables in 2012, with the rest rallying around him. In his absence now, their top-heavy batting is listless and even Mahela Jayawardene’s sharp captaincy is not inspiring anyone.
There are other teams in the fray with uninspired leadership. Adam Gilchrist looks like he has extended his stay at Kings XI Punjab a tad longer than required, as that particular franchise seems a meandering boat. They have been looking to sell the team and aren’t too active during auctions as well. You can see where the problem is.
Pune Warriors meanwhile have buckets full of cash, but they failed to buy a proper replacement for Michael Clarke, in case he was unavailable or injured, as is the case now. Angelo Mathews may be the Sri Lankan captain but he is not so in the T20 format anymore and last time people checked, the IPL is a T20 tournament.
Yuvraj Singh isn’t an option anymore and with other young talent not upto captaincy as yet, they seem to be a rudderless ship, if only because the money makes their boat look bigger than Kings'. Point is, Sahara bought this team at a pinching price and how long can they afford to be unsuccessful?
You can see from Chennai Super Kings or Rajasthan Royals what good leadership can do for the team. Mahendra Singh Dhoni might not have been the best T20 captain for Indian cricket in recent times, but there is no cricketer more suited to limited-overs today than him. And what he has achieved in yellow will be folklore in that city, if it isn’t already is. Or for that matter, Rahul Dravid, who is an extension of what Shane Warne did before him, even if the two are as different as chalk and cheese.
And if this angle, of choosing an able captain, doesn’t work, there is always the money route. Mumbai Indians have bought enough players in the last six years to have three teams lined up as Indians A, B and C squads. Yet success has eluded them. This time, however, with Ricky Ponting in charge and Anil Kumble as well as John Wright on board, they seem to have bought the sure-shot formula for success. At the time of writing, they sit atop the points table.
But, having said that, things herein change in the blink of an eye.
© Cricket World 2013
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