Tuesday 2 March 2010 

IPL Cricket: IPL 2010 Preview - Deccan Chargers

 

Team Owner: Deccan Chronicle

Deccan Chronicle is a Hyderabad-based media organization, involved primarily in printing and publishing newspapers, and periodicals along with advertisement services. Established in 1938 Deccan Chronicle is the number one daily in Andhra Pradesh and the fourth most read English daily in India.  It enjoys the readership of more than a million people within the world.  It is also the only Indian newspaper with an international edition from London.  Deccan Chronicle’s venture into the Chennai market produced spectacular results within three months of its launch in March 2005 as it took over more than half the market share of the English dailies. 

The media group acquired the Hyderabad-based franchise from the IPL for $107 million on January 24, 2008. Later, another media group, Group M India picked up a 20 percent stake in the franchise.

Squad: Adam Gilchrist (Captain & wicket-keeper), Harmeet Singh, Bodapati Sumanth, Azhar Bilakhia, Herschelle Gibbs, Ryan Harris, VVS Laxman, Mitchell Marsh, Monish Mishra, Pragyan Ojha, Kemar Roach, Ashish Reddy, Venugopal Rao, Rohit Sharma, Rahul Sharma, Anirudh Singh, RP Singh, Dwayne Smith, Tirumalasetti Suman, Andrew Symonds, Ravi Teja, Chaminda Vaas, Arjun Yadav

Coach: Darren Lehmann

The Australian World Cup-winning cricketer replaced former India cricketer and fielding coach Robin Singh ahead of the 2009 season. It was a move inspired by the change in leadership and it worked wonders. Adam Gilchrist and Darren Lehmann played together for long and the franchise administration’s belief in the paring opened the pathway to success for them.

Playing in India after the South African sojourn last year will be a new challenge. Lehmann played for the Rajasthan Royals in the first season of the IPL and he enjoyed success then under Shane Warne, so he will know a trick or two for success in the sub-continent as well.

2009 Record: IPL Champions
2008 Record: Eighth

From one end of the spectrum to another, that is how anyone would describe the Deccan Chargers in the two seasons of IPL so far. The first season was nothing much to write home about except that this team was perhaps the biggest disappointment in the history of cricket where eleven players have been randomly been chosen to form a team. With the likes of Gilchrist, Gibbs, Styris, Symonds, Afridi and Vaas in the side, they were expected to steamroll one opposition after another. But all they could bring home were two wins and a lot of questions to be answered for the most expensively assembled team in the competition.

A change in administration, support staff and leadership along with change in host nation brought them some much needed cheer and luck as it turns out. When they started the second season under Adam Gilchrist in South Africa, they were unbeaten in their first four games and many saw them as contenders early. A mid-season slump meant that instead of topping the league charts they only ended up fourth and just about qualified for the semi-finals, ahead of Kings XI Punjab on run-rate.

Once in the knock-outs though, they were a team transformed as Gilchrist’s 85 off 35 balls took care of the Delhi Dare Devils and a spirited effort in the final helped them trump the other high flying team of the tournament, Bangalore Royal Challengers. No one though begrudged Gilchrist and his men the victory deserving their efforts.

Strengths & Weaknesses:

Their biggest strength continues to be their batting line-up. VVS Laxman was said to be the one weak link there but his performances in South Africa last year combined with his experiences in the English county circuit have more than made up for his shortcomings. He now plays the pivotal role in the innings while the likes of Adam Gilchrist, Herschelle Gibbs, Andrew Symonds and Rohit Sharma have the license to go after the bowling.

Symonds and Gibbs are two big names for them who haven’t yet produced the magic that we know they can. They have had the odd innings which lit up the games but a consistent run of good form throughout the tournament is what is being asked of these two fantastic players. Gilchrist got his last time around ending the highest run getter with 495 runs.

Their bowling really clicked in the helpful conditions in Africa but this year’s tournament may reveal more weak areas this time around. RP Singh was the Purple Cap winner with 23 wickets to his name but this time around he is not in the same kind of rhythm and form, while the Indian wickets can be a back breaker for any bowler in the T20 game. Chaminda Vaas is now slower than most but has lost none of his guile though it remains to be seen how much of him they will use.

The one player the Deccan Chargers will miss this time round is Fidel Edwards. The West Indian fast bowler did good damage with the ball in South Africa but injury will keep him out this time around. In that sense, their new purchase at this year’s auction should be an ideal replacement. In his short stint in international cricket, Kemar Roach has made a name for himself and the best we know of him is when he rattled the Australian captain Ricky Ponting with his pace earlier in the winter. A repeat performance in the IPL will raise his and his team’s stock much higher.

Their home matches will not be played in Hyderabad due to political problems but in Vishakhapatnam, Cuttack and Nagpur. Now that is good in two ways – one, the teams hasn’t had much luck in Hyderabad in the first IPL season or even in the 2009 Champions League T20. So a change of locale should suit them just like last year. And two, the pitch at Hyderabad is one of the best batting pitches in the country. Playing elsewhere would afford their spinners much more turn and Pragyan Ojha will be rubbing his hands in glee at the prospect.

Player to watch out for: Rohit Sharma

He may not have fulfilled his potential at the international level just yet but for the Deccan Chargers he has proven to be one hell of a buy. In the first season, he was the only stand out player, holding together their batting on his shoulders alone. In the second season, he took it one step further with another 300-plus runs and a clutch of wickets, including a hat-trick, helping him bag the Young Player of the Tournament award.

Since the 2007 T20 World Cup, Rohit Sharma has been in and out of the Indian side, getting only the odd chance. He has to realize that post the 2007 season, Indian selectors have started paying a lot of attention to the performances in the IPL especially since the T20 World Cup is once again round the corner and the ODI World Cup is not too far away in itself. Now he may well be in their plans for the ensuing tournament in the West Indies but the ODI slot he will have to earn. A repeat of his performances last year will surely help him make a very high bid for next year’s tournament.
 
Chetan Narula
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