Match#57: Kochi Tuskers Kerala v/s Kings XI Punjab
Holkar Cricket Stadium, Indore
Form: KTK– Loss, Loss, Win, Win, Win, Loss, Loss, Loss, Win, Win, Loss,
KXIP– Loss, Win, Win, Win, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Win,
Most teams decide to wake up and smell the Sarson ka saag (or sambar- depends) only after beating a top-of-the-table team that does not seem really keen on being tested anymore. It worked for the Tuskers a few weeks back (followed it up by 2 more wins)- and Punjab will hope that they have finally come to the party of the poopers after a surprisingly one-sided win against the illusionists Mumbai.
But when these teams face eachother, it promises to be a mind-numbing contest of mindlessness and madness that may result in a very close one-sided contest.
Kochi Tuskers Kerala:
After being transported back in time (and space) by the Royal Challengers a few days ago, K-040000 find themselves back to the future- at the bottom half of the table. The dust has settled, and the cream has truly risen to the top. Having said that, Kochi have still proved to be the better debutants- but it is not over yet, with Pune doing an encore of their form in the beginning (2- game winning streak)
Belly flop Brendon
And with the Tuskers playing, the latest man-made disaster cannot be too far behind- with Prasanth Parameswaran being the latest victim of this South-Indian phenomena. As mentioned earlier, he will do well to take inspiration from Stuart Broad’s career. After all, conceding 37 runs in one over is a momentous occasion- so much so that Kochi have now shifted their ‘home’ venue to Holkar Stadium back in Indore for fear of ‘boring’ performances. Or maybe it has something to do with ‘those memories’ of Ishant Sharma.
Just a place above Pune in the table now (Oh, the shame!), Kochi will want to pull away from the chasing pack and firmly seal a respectable 6th place this year. The team they face today will have a large say in that- especially considering the fact that Punjab now battle to the end with Deccan to avoid being the first double wooden-spooner in IPL history. Same for Deccan, actually.
With both Jayawardene and Sangakkara sensationally failing in their efforts to gain back some self-respect after the World cup, the playoffs shall now have 3 Asian (Indian) players captaining sides- with one lone New Zealander captaining a multinational corporation. Much like the World Cup, obviously.
Mathematically though (much like D&L), Kochi still stand as much chance of making the final four as South Africa do of actually winning an ICC tournament in the next 2 years. (Forget the fact that the T20 World Cup is the only major tournament to be played then). I may still reconsider though, with 3 massive wins still enough for Kochi to upset a team like…Rajasthan.
S. Sreesanth will argue that life has not been too kind to him- and Mahela is only taking revenge for the World Cup final by excluding the Kerala dancer from the final 11. He will make yet another comeback- and it cannot possibly result in a loss worse than the one against Sid Mallya’s toy story.
Player to watch out for: Brendon McCullum
Time for that one MASSIVE innings- a trademark that had brought IPL into the spotlight 4 years ago. The tattooed islander will want to exit IPL 2011 on a high- and give his diminutive Islander captain a respectable farewell that will not be too dissimilar from SRK’s tribute to Dada’s diminishing powers.
Kings XI Punjab: (Semi finals 2008)
Midway through the game against Mumbai on Tuesday, things were going according to the usual script for Punjab. Valthaty out after a start, same for Gilly (a start? Yes), Marsh dragging his team through the dreaded middle overs, Karthik doing his best impression of MSD until the lower order collapsed in a heap of Kochi-themed helplessness against Patel and…Patel.
‘There, you see that cheerleader? She’s the one!
But then, the inevitable happened- Mumbai crashed to yet another madatory embarrassing defeat against a no-hoper team to conform their status as the most mechanical T20 team of this year. Chasing has not been one of the strengths of the Indians- and it showed against an inspired Punjab outfit- with YET another left-arm spinner Bhatt coming to the party with 4 shotgun wickets.
With ALL their bowlers managing to take a wicket against the Indians—and Praveen Kumar expertly mixing his foul-mouthed rants with exceptional swing bowling, the Kings XI looked the team they were supposed to be this year. No individual performances for a change, and it was genuinely a ‘team’ mauling. Of course, they took great pride in exposing Mumbai’s post-selection snooze period, and will definitely push Sachin Tendulkar into ‘rest’ mode (and Symonds out of the team- considering his complete lack of ability so far)
Punjab will now look to prey on a team that has travelled the same path as they have, with the odd shock win against massive opposition nicely intersperced with pathetic white-flag-losses that boast of complete schizophrenia.
Or maybe both the Kings XI and the Tuskers will refuse to claim victory because of the sheer lack of inspiration and non-greatness that they inspire in eachother.
Player to watch out for: Paul Valthaty
For the sake of Indian cricket, Paul Valthaty must score more than 50 to inspire hope and warm-fuzzy-feelings in the millions of Indian fans who had desperately hoped for a new superhero after yet another predictable World Cup (Ahem..). IPL-2011 has done its best to arise from the ashes of a massive Indian hangover- and some will argue that it has failed (viewership records- proof). A player like Valthaty, not even a Ranji game old, can turn all of that around with yet another miraculous century- to show the world that the Americans are not the only glory-seeking underdog-obsessed Rocky-spewing delusional sports fans.
But then, the word ‘miraculous’ is used for a reason.
God’s own country or Yash Chopra’s portrait of perfection? Butter Chicken or Idiyapam? World Cup Reject#1 (Chawla) or World Cup Reject#2 (Sreesanth)- both of whom have ironically been dropped by their ‘club teams’ too. North or South?
Well, if the cluster that are forming in the table are anything to go by, time for the Kings XI to make these Indie Commandos an offer they can never refuse- let’s bring in the SUPER OVER and steal the limelight by going down all guns blazing (and then, we, being the physically stronger race, shall beat you)