As the first week of the slash-and-dash orgy comes to a close, we will not only look back at some rather surprising happenings, but also look into our famous crystal ball (which is on the verge of being extinct after the MI performance) for the games from October 1 right till the last day of the tournament.
I had, not very correctly predicted that Mumbai Indians would have been as good as out of the tournament by now. Well, I couldn’t have been further away from the truth. In fact, the Australian teams that were expected to get a headstart over the rest, are chugging along at the speed of Ravi Shastri without an IPL contract.
As we celebrate the birth of Malinga the batsman, and the rebirth of Harbhajan Singh the bowler, let us take a look at what MAY happen in the final week- according to current form and trends:
Saturday October 1– Game One: Somerset v/s South Australia
Prediction: Somerset will be playing their second game after a Van Der Merwe Turbo boost against the Knight Riders early in the group stages. They are yet to lose a game in the tournament so far, that has included their qualifying saga, and are clearly a well-oiled T20 outfit. South Australia, on the other hand, are quite the domestic champions themselves.
Subject to their performance against KKR in the second game, one expects South Australia to hit some kind of form here and take their momentum into the closing stages. A loss here would virtually end their chances of a semi-final birth, or hopes of emulating their illustrious Australian colleagues. Shaun Tait, though, will be gunning for revenge after a beating at the fangs of the Cobras.
Game Two: KKR v/s Warriors
Prediction: By now, the possibility of KKR moving forward in the tournament after two straight losses to Somerset and an enigmatic performance against South Australia- will have become very clear. Disappointing by the stupidly high standards that their owner may have set them pre-tournament, and with Kallis in denial about his deterrent role of batting through an innings, and with Gambhir insisting that he is the new ‘Deshdrohi’, KKR could very well crash out of CL 2011 right here. The Warriors look a dominating outfit, and everybody is aware of the fact that, being South African, they are only waiting for the knockouts to pull off an upset (that involves them losing)
Sunday October 2– Game One: Mumbai Indians v/s New South Wales
Prediction: To hope that Mumbai’s luck continues after two disastrously inept performances that have won them 4 miraculous points, will be foolhardly. With half their batting order missing, injured or dead, the Indians will need Harbhajan and Malinga to come to the party once again- with ball and bat. One does not see New South Wales succumbing to the weakest (but tough) Indian outfit. Shane Watson is yet to fire, and he always has one good game in him every tournament.
Game Two: Chennai SuperKings v/s Trinidad & Tobago
Prediction: A SuperKing Win. T&T have been unlucky so far, inspite of being the best qualifier of the three, and will need a miracle to stay in the tournament after their spectacular batting collapse against Mumbai Indians, followed by that shamble of a last over- where Darren Ganga decided to do an MS Dhoni with a captaincy move that cost them their lifeline. Dhoni, himself woefully out of form as captain, will just need a miracle himself to carry on playing cricket after an exhausting year on the road. The man needs a break. Hopefully, he won’t choose the England ODI series to have one.
Is it because my name’s Ravi?
Monday October 3– Royal Challengers Bangalore v/s Somerset
Prediction: A Gaylestorm. A win that keeps RCB in the tournament, only to disappoint later on. Somerset will be on the verge, but they are still in pole position for a semi-final birth. Arul Suppiah could go one up from his match against KKR, and even concede 36 in an over against Gayle here, topping the 30 against Pathan and Kallis the other night.
Tuesday October 4– Game One: Cape Cobras v/s Trinidad & Tobago
Prediction: West Indies A, as the T&T team is called, need their batting to click to stand any chance of pulling off an upset here. Their bowling attack is one of the best in the tournament, as they come up against the most dangerous team in the world. The Cobras, one suspects, are no less than the current South African T20 national team, and it will take some effort to beat them until the final- where they will inevitably find a way to beat themselves. A Cobra win, here, would round things up well.
Game Two: Chennai Super Kings v/s New South Wales
Prediction: Previously considered to be the two favorites to reach the final this year, both the teams are so high on star-power that they are just begging for an upset. One expects them to nullify eachother in this game, both on their back foot, and we might have the tournament’s first TIE. As for the Super Over, considering Dhoni’s year so far, expect Chennai to crash and burn.
Wednesday October 5– Game One: Somerset v/s Warriors
Prediction: Two probable semi-finalists here, playing on the last day of the group stages. This result might very well determine if the best of the rest make it to the final four. Expect Warriors to prove their class once again, with their final win before the knockouts.
Game Two: Royal Challengers Bangalore v/s South Australia
Prediction: Last game of the group stages. One of them, for sure, will be fighting for their lives in this game. One of them will have been knocked out by now. Hence, do-or-die, most probably for the Challengers. Nevertheless, I do not expect them to make the semis. Sadly, this time, the IPL teams other than Mumbai, may have run its course- unlike last year, where 3 of the last 4 were IPL teams.
Marcus-less in Battle
So that’s it for now. My probable semi-finalists would be, as of now: The Warriors, Cobras, Mumbai Indians and New South Wales/Somerset.
Let’s wait and watch. Not that it will matter much to the Indian cricketers anymore. They need rest. And at the rate they’re going, they could get rest very soon- in a hospital.