CL 2011 GROUP STAGES: PREVIEW

I would love to take credit for the fact that I predicted the correct result for each of the qualifiers and even predicted the exact order in which the teams would qualify.
KKR made it by the skin of Shahrukh’s wax face, thanks to some opportunistic chasing and a flying Dutchman. Two highly unconvincing qualifying performances later, KKR will need nothing less than a miracle to justify their pre-tournament favorites tag that I have bestowed upon them. To be frighteningly honest, they have no business being in the league anymore- taking into account the sheer superiority of ‘lesser’ teams like Trinidad & Tobago and Somerset.

Now that we have the names of all the teams playing, and the excess baggage has been removed, let us play a day-by-day prediction game right until the halfway stage in the tournament:

Underdogs no more

Sept 23rd FRIDAY: Royal Challengers Bangalore v/s Warriors
Prediction: The stronger of the two South African teams will come out on top- subject to Chris Gayle’s form and mood. Bangalore might take a while to warm up, as do all IPL teams, and it will be ‘exit’ time by then.

Sept 24th SATURDAYGame 1: Cape Cobras v/s New South Wales
Prediction: The first of the two Super-Saturday games pits the two T20 giants against eachother in a match-up that might see a surprise or two. One expects the Aussie outfit to come out unscathed though, considering it has a rather flattering Champion’s league record up until now.
Game 2: Chennai Super Kings v/s Mumbai Indians
Prediction: The fact that Mumbai have been granted the permission to have five foreign players because of its inability to field a final 11 much like their namesake the ‘Indians’, this will be a no-brainer. Chennai, fresh from another IPL title and Raina’s limited over heroics, will steamroll a weak Mumbai outfit.

Sept 25th SUNDAYGame 1: Warriors v/s South Australia
Prediction: The Australian Champions face a rejuvenated Warriors outfit, who will have gotten a good feel of Indian conditions by now. Knowing the old South African trait of muddling up things when on top, one expects the young South Australian squad to lay down the gauntlet with a powerful performance that might set the tone for them as early favorites.
Game 2: KKR v/s Somerset
Prediction: A rematch of the crunch qualifying game for KKR will probably give rise to the same result. By now, you’d expect that KKR may have learnt from their mistakes. But Somerset look way too strong to perform as just another English team in the tournament. And they’re not even English Champions.

Summer Set for Trego

Sept 26th MONDAYMumbai Indians v/s T&T
Prediction: In a match that might probably spell doom for a withering Mumbai squad, T&T will use all their bowling guile and experience to embarrass Mumbai in home conditions. What T&T lack in experience, they more than make up with explosive firepower in the shortest version of the game- not surprising, because West Indies tend to go all guns blazing for around 20 overs even in a 50 over game or a Test Match before fading away into oblivion.

Sept 27th TUESDAYKKR v/s South Australia
Prediction: I predict a wholesome upset here. SRK and his band of underperformers might pull off a stunner here, thanks to a Yusuf Pathan special. South Australia might be left reeling after this disappointing performance.

Sept 28th WEDNESDAYGame 1: New South Wales v/s T&T
Prediction: In a repeat of the game that unleashed Kieron Pollard onto an unsuspecting world, this match-up promises to be an exciting potboiler- the stage set for a certain Darren Bravo to come to the party with a worldclass batting performance. Nevertheless, T&T might lack the experience needed to beat the mighty Watson-inspired outfit.
Game 2: Chennai Super Kings v/s Cape Cobras
Prediction: Chennai SuperKings possess way too much bench strength and class to lose against the African Champions. We could see a consistent Cobra outfit trying hard to wear the Kings down, but one expects a Murali Vijay special to see the Kings through safely to the next round in humid conditions.

Sept 29th THURSDAYKKR v/s Royal Challengers Bangalore
Prediction: An IPL special here, with a trip down memory lane for Chris Gayle. However, I still predict a KKR victory, keeping in mind their ability to pull off a surprise when least expected (which unfortunately includes a lot of exits so far)

A dream within a dream

Sept 30th FRIDAYMumbai Indians v/s Cape Cobras
Prediction: Expect Lasith Malinga to nullify the effect of their impotent batting line-up. Mumbai Indians might win their first game of the tournament here- a bit too late, one would expect. Malinga will, no doubt, feel a bit hurt without his senior partners Tendulkar and Munaf Patel.

We will soon move onto the second half of the tournament, with the SuperKings and New South Wales looking like early favorites. Things could change very fast, though, with English favorites Somerset looking set to impress and add yet trophy to the bulging England cabinet.

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