The Indian Premier League 2014 kicked into high gear in its second week of competition. It was also the final week spent in the United Arab Emirates, before the tournament returns home.
It has been yet another fabulous exercise given it was only the second time the IPL has tested foreign waters (the first was South Africa in 2009).
The organisation was spot on, the cricket was good and the crowd support was fantastic, and as such this tends to be a good mixture.
Team Of The Week
After losing their opening match of the season, thanks to a blitzkrieg performance by Glenn Maxwell, two-time champions Chennai Super Kings bounced back in style. They have played four matches since then, winning all of them, and making a steady climb up the points’ ladder.
It began with a comprehensive 93-run win over the Delhi Daredevils, after which they beat the Rajasthan Royals by seven runs, then the Mumbai Indians by seven wickets, and finally the Sunrisers Hyderabad by five wickets. It gives them eight points from four matches, sitting pretty at second spot behind the Kings XI Punjab who have won all their five matches so far.
The key to their victories has been a definitive playing 11 which comes across as a well-balanced side. The injury to Dwayne Bravo, which sidelined him from the tournament, may have come as a boon for the Super Kings because they were able to include Ben Hilfenhaus. He has been a superb bowler with the new ball for them over the years, and with Ishwar Pandey and Mohit Sharma forms a very potent attack that is aided by the spin of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
Their ballistic batting combination of Dwayne Smith, Brendon McCullum, Suresh Raina, Faf du Plessis and MS Dhoni gives them additional firepower. What’s more, their best is definitely yet to come as the league returns home shortly.
Player Of The Week
One player has been pivotal to this steady rise of the Chennai Super Kings and that is their West Indies opener, Dwayne Smith.
He has 240 runs to his name so far from five games, only 60 behind table-topper Glenn Maxwell. He has stolen the Australian’s limelight this week with scores of 29, 50, 29 and 66 respectively, hinting at the consistent quick starts he has provided to Chennai at the start of each innings.
With Brendon McCullum, he has put on 23, 35, 57 and 85 for the first wicket in the past week, taking a lot of pressure off the rest of the batsmen. Suresh Raina, their main batsman, has been off-colour and this fact has indeed gone unnoticed.
Not to mention he has returned three wickets so far in the tournament, which may not be a lot, but points to his all-round utility if Dhoni ever falls short of bowlers. It makes for some wonderment then as to how much Mumbai Indians have lost out given that two of their past players, Maxwell and Smith, have ruled the charts in the first two weeks this season.
Disappointment Of The Week
Mumbai cannot go any lower in the points table at the moment, for they sit eighth and last having lost all of their five matches so far.
But they have atleast been consistent in their non-performance, if it can be said so. And therefore the biggest disappointment of this past week comes from the double-header on Saturday, wherein Rajasthan took on the Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Kolkata Knight Riders took on Punjab.
Usually a double-header can be a treat for the paying public but not on this day. 33 wickets fell in four innings of two T20 matches, and considering this shortest format of the game is supposed to be entertaining, that was a poor day of cricket whichever way you look at it.
Off-The-Field Moment Of The Week:
This week’s highlight comes from within the boundary ropes. Even so, in pulling off that stunning catch to dismiss AB de Villiers and help Kolkata beat Bangalore, Chris Lynn was off the ground.
He defied the laws of physics, biology, cricket and gravity, et al, to pull that catch off after messing up his judgment initially. Most importantly, he was airborne in doing so. Thus, technically, it qualifies as the best off-the-field moment!
© Cricket World 2014