All the teams have finished two matches of their group matches in first 6 days of IPL 2011. Some have won all, some lost all while some have been even with one win and one loss. If first two games can be accepted as trend, the games are already getting divided into top-class teams fighting for knockouts and weak teams – playing for not finishing at the bottom.
Mumbai Indians, Rajasthan Royals and Pune Warriors India have won both their first two matches without any fuss. With their disciplined bowling and planned batting they have neutralized the opponents into submission.
Mumbai Indians is the only team to have registered two convincing wins. With bat and ball, both they have appeared the best. Malinga attacked the opposition to let them be happy with average scores, and then Sachin guided them to victory with good support from team members, Rayudu, Jacobs in batting and Harbhajan and co in bowling. Remaining batsmen must be tested before its crunch time, to avoid the repeat of 2010.
Rajasthan Royals appear big threat. Without Watson, Warne has galvanized his troops in another inspirational display of will over fame. Botha is playing the game of his life with bat, while Indian layers with less experience have been bowling as if they belong to the best of the lot. Siddharth Trivedi and Amit Singh have been particularly exceptional. The team is growing in strength and once Watson joins them, they are ready to eye the top.
Pune Warriors India led by the Yuvraj Singh, player of the tournament in just concluded World Cup, has registered emphatic victories without Yuvraj batting a long inning or bowling. S Bagh and Thomas have been performing as unplayable. Robin Uthhapa is as usual in cracking form with the bat. Smith also showed some improvement, but the key was Uthappa and Mohnish in second match. Their batting
is about team effort so far, no individual brilliance. Bowling is exception in the first half when they had both opponents on mat taking 4 wickets without 30 runs on board, but later it fizzles out. They should focus to keep the pressure on, otherwise teams with good batting depth can be problem.
Royal Challengers Bangalore had a mixed start. In their first match, they won under pressure when AB de Villiers played a gem of an undefeated innings, whereas against Mumbai Indians their bowlers succumbed to exceptional tidy bolwing by Malinga and Co, whereas the likes of Zaheer and Co could not impress against the strong top-order of MI. Their bowling, specially Zaheer, needs better performance to get this strong team into top level reckoning for knockouts.
Chennai Super Kings have managed to win tensed match against KKR, but failed to defend high total in second match against KXIP. While Anirudha and bowlers took them home in first match against KKR, Murali Vijay, Badrinath and Dhoni ensured high score despite first over double by Praveen Kumar, but bowlers failed. Good form of top order batsmen is high point for them, but bowling must improve if CSK has to reach Knockout for 4th consecutive time.
Kolkata Knight Riders appeared the best before the tournament started. In the first match, they were in strong position before defending champion CSK handed them defeat. They won the close second match against DC. THey have the best of the lot batsmen and allrounders. Gambhir must lead from the front in batting and show better captainy skills to take them to their first-ever knockout in IPL.
Kings XI Punjab, the semifinalists of 2008, which was later more famous for its controversies, have suddenly shot into contention due to individual brilliance of Valthaty. Yet the situation in team needs extreme measures and improvements. Gilchrist appears puzzled for some reason, and not-so-dangerous with bat anymore. 2008 purple cap holder Shaun Marsh is probably no more used to the smaller format. Indian players are not performing well either. Praveen Kumar is opening with wickets, but giving away later, and other bowlers like Ryan Harris and Piyush Chawla are neither economic nor are they able to get wickets. A combined team improveValthaty’s knock should give them ocnfidence to improve batting and bowling both!!
Kochi Tuskers Kerala, one of the two fresher of the lot was termed as Bowling Academy after Auction completed. They are the best losers with good score on boarh. After their first two matches, the batsmen have played well, but the bowlers have failed miserably. Jadeja and Hodge have shown good promises for future, McCullum and Laxman are expected to provide repeat of first match performance more often.Bowling unit of Muralitharan, Sreesanth and others have failed to keep the opponents in check. Their team is at least better than DD and DC. With some learnings from past two losses they can join hands to improve a lot. How about celebrating together to start the winning march!!
Note: Brendum McCullum at short mid-on took a catch on Sreesanth’s bowling against RCB. That was KTK’s first wicket of IPL, and it came quick too. Yet, instead of rushing to each other to celebrate, as it generally happens during catches, Sreesanth went to the wicketkeeper, while Brendum McCullum was celebrating with someone standing towards the boundary. Their owners finally united to let the team play IPL, the team should learn to unite before they are knocked out of the tournament.
Delhi Daredevils, the 2-time semifinalists look the weakest after first two matches. They do not have the artillery to march towards the knockouts unless Sehwag takes on the baton and completes the marathon of next 12 games with some huge winning innings. Bowling unit is good, but DD batsmen should give some score to defend. Both matches they lost batting first. In first they could not reach triple figure while another saw them disintegrating on field while defending 151 runs in front of Mumbai Indians.
Deccan Chargers belong to the weakest strata of the team. They are 2009 champions and semifinalists of 2010, but the team has changed drastically, for worse. Sangakkara appears under immense pressure as he does not have the squad to pick a good playing XI, and after end of April even he will return to serve Sri Lanka. DC looks doomed. They will pray for some angels in their team to Charge Up, before its too late.