Match#11: Deccan Chargers v/s Royal Challengers Bangalore
Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad
Form Guide: DC: Loss, Loss, RCB: Win, Loss,
For two years now, these two teams have started as favourites on paper. But mind you, only on paper. Of course, Deccan went on and completed a fairytale come-from-behind-bottom-to-top 2009 campaign that was full of surprises. The Knight Riders finishing last was not one of them, but the Royal Challengers reaching the final was definitely right up there with the appearance of hair on Harsha Bhogle’s head (duly taken note of by their premier ‘test’ batsman Jacques Kallis)
Gone are the days of IPL parties (and Virat Kohli’s motivation) along with a little-known character called Lalit Modi- to give way to Siddharth Mallya’s oxford-style motivational dressing room speeches- ‘Lads, Guinness is no way to go…’
Whatever it is, it seems to have worked- for the Royal Challengers (smarting, no doubt, from another thrashing by Mumbai) still look a very formidable outfit who have just had an off-day- though one wonders why their off-days seem to only happen against quality opposition. Just saying.
Facing their surprisingly weak South-Indian counterparts in a rematch of the 2009 final may just be the tonic they need. (A Deccan fan may use the exact same line, though)
Deccan Chargers: (Winners 2009)
The Chargers are a bit deflated, not unlike Delhi, but they definitely possess one of the stronger bowling attacks in the tournament. Dale Steyn, Amit Mishra (who has flown South, literally) and Pragyan Ojha make sure that only ONE of them have a bad day at a time. Unfortunately that one over pretty much costs them the match. Their batting, led by Kumara Sangakkara (another ex-captain- cum- victim of a recent lesser-known Indian onslaught) lacks bite- but it is a long season- and there is plenty of time for them to come into their own. Of course, 2 more losses later, Sangakkara will not particularly like captaincy as a cricketing concept anymore.
They will do well to forget their recent capitulation against a lesser-known Rajasthani attack led by an even-lesser-known Shane Warne. But they must solely be blamed if Kolkata Knight Riders go on to win the tournament(and if Tiger Woods wins a golf tournament ever again), for giving them the desperately-needed self belief and the subsequent discovery of the winning formula (which SRK insists- was built up over the short span of 3.5 analytical years)
Player to watch out for: Daniel Christian. This South Australian import seems to be the next best thing after Symonds to happen to the all-rounder starved national team. Of course, it’s only the T20 team- but unless Greg Chappell has other plans AGAIN, things look bright for the hard-hitting Deccan Charger. If his sixes were anything to go by in the game against Kolkata, Steve Smith could finally find himself out of a job (much to the relief of several Aussie fans)
Jean-Paul Duminy must fulfil his potential without finding an inventive new way of getting himself out in all sorts of pressure situations.
That Cameron White is yet to arrive- is a promising situation to be in. (Though, on current form, the situation might apply to the opposition team)
Royal Challengers Bangalore: (Finalists 2009, Semi-finalists 2010)
Daniel Vettori could have been forgiven for feeling very comfortable and secure (for once in his life) when he signed on as captain to this very promising T20 side. He could even be forgiven for dreaming about lifting A trophy for a change after a convincing performance from AB De Villiers and co. in their first game against Kochi. Who can blame him? It’s not often you get to ransack the strongest North Indian team of their best foreign players overnight and lure them to more intoxicating shores.
But all those dreams were destroyed during 3 hours of mayhem so merciless, that viewers could be forgiven for spotting a Virender Sehwag sitting somewhere in the stadium in the midst of a black-magic-inducing pin-shoving spell of vengeance-minded last-laugh rites. Okay, so they were facing a formidable Mumbai Indians side (who, mind you, have STILL not been tested)- but how long can they expect themselves to win a tournament without consistently beating the top (or better, for the diplomatic-minded) sides.
Needless to mention, they will be looking to set things straight- starting with the introduction of their own private non-alcoholic beverage-soaked parties so that Virat Kohli gets his mojo back.
Player to watch out for: Zaheer Khan. After a right thrashing from the Mumbai batsmen (only 3 of them seem to have batted yet), Zak will be out to prove that wedding talk cannot destroy a player’s career. Atleast not yet.
Saurabh Tiwary will be looking to extend his string of consistent scores- hoping desperately that his bowlers decide to deny similar consistent scores to the Deccan batsmen.
T. Dilshan needs to get back to his dashing best- even if it means not struggling through a painful-to-watch innings against Malinga and co.
Prediction: A Royal Thrashing. Deccan may not get lucky, just yet- but their time will come, hopefully sometime within the next 1.5 months.
Bangalore look too classy and too full of explosive talent to be bogged down by sheer weight of expectations. Or maybe not- remember the final last year?
This is T20 after all (straight from a losing captain’s dictionary of much-practiced diplomatic statements)