With 17 matches played the fourth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) finally seems to be settling in. If you thought that the inclusion of two new teams would be the biggest change for the T20 extravaganza then think again. IPL 4 has seen many players change jersey colors and this, as opposed to the two new teams, has been the biggest change this year.
When it started in 2008 IPL with its icon players cricfacts was supposed to evoke the same frenzied passion that fuels a nation but this time around for a ‘city’. So it made sense for Sachin Tendulkar to be a Mumbai Indian (MI), a Rahul Dravid to be a Royal Challenger from Bangalore and Yuvraj Singh to lead the Kings XI from Punjab (KXIP) but if one can imagine Kolkata Knight Riders (KRK) minus Sourav Ganguly then what’s wrong in Yuvi hammering it as a Pune Warrior or Dravid donning the Rajathan Royal jersey in the IPL 4?
Four years in the making and it seems like the idea of a premier league has finally started to take shape. Last year’s auction for IPL 3 teams saw Mahela Jayawardene switch to Kochi Tuskers Kerala (KTK) from KXIP and Yuvraj Singh taking over the reins of the new franchise Pune Warriors India (PWI) and Kumar Sangakkara going to Deccan Chargers (DC)… all three of them are coming good for their new teams but think about it these three played for the same team till last year.
While Delhi Daredevils (DD) and Mumbai Indians (MI) hung on to their first edition icon players, KXIP let go of almost all their stalwarts of IPL 3, who sadly weren’t performing as good as they are now, due to technicalities and a law suite. The idea of a premiership is to harness the individual skills to come up with a formidable talent pool, something that Shane Warne did with Rajasthan Royals in IPL-1 or Adam Gilchrist did with DC in IPL-2.
So, would it correct to say that IPL 4 lost all the working combinations?
Kolkata Knight Riders (KRK): Not really if you look closely enough. Take the case of KKR in IPL 3. There wasn’t a dearth of talent in the original line-up; Brendon McCullum set the ground ablaze in the very first IPL match ever but never really got around to make it bigger, Sohaib Akhtar managed to win a few matches but ended up cooling his heels like other Pakistani players, Ganguly ended up being a victim of his own larger than life Bengal Tiger image, Ishant Sharma burnt out and let’s not pontificate about Ricky Ponting and Chris Gayle. But look at them now. The same jerseys look like match winners under Gautam Gambhir. Jacques Kallis, Yusuf Pathan, Manvinder Bisla, Brett Lee and Lakshmipati Balaji and you are shocked to see KKR in the top 4 teams. The discards like Brendon McCullum are heating things up further south in KTK colors.
The team that would seem to suffer the most in the new line-up would be KXIP but they too have discovered their match winner in Paul Valthathy, one of Indian cricket’s best kept secrets. Delhi and Bangalore too seem to be taking their time in settling down, while Delhi is missing Gautam Gambhir they have Irfan Pathan, their most expensive buy but Bangalore needs to gets inspired by former-captain-now-mentor Anil Kumble and start delivering.
Chennai Super Kings (CSK) retained most of their top players and the first few matches have been good for them but their last outing against KTK saw how the opposition just dominated them. MI’s too had it good till they met a gravy train called KTK, who seem to make pulling off the impossible their new calling card. Two impressive wins on the trot and looks like Jayawardene has taken the near ugly combination of orange and purple (inspired by the orange cap for highest run scorer purple cap of the highest wicket taker….?) a tad too seriously and decided to make the impossible, possible.