Knockout Punch

Match#55: Rajasthan Royals v/s Royal Challengers Bangalore

Sawai Mansingh stadium, Jaipur

Form: RR- Win, Win, Loss, Loss, Loss, Draw, Win, Win, Win, Loss, Loss,
            RCB- Win, Loss, Loss, Loss, Draw, Win, Win, Win, Win, Win,

The Challengers have won 5 games on the trot- and look good to win a few more. They might want to continue their winning streak after reaching the playoffs though- and wouldn’t mind losing a few right now to make things Steve-Slater-Interesting. I wish. In fact, even Siddharth Mallya does not remember when that first ‘lucky kiss’ was broadcasted worldwide? So, so long back. It was the team that gained.

Meanwhile, Warne is balancing his practicing schedule with his packing schedule- as he plans to pack in as many swords and forts in his size-zero suitcase to take back to England. He may have well switched Ashes loyalties for the time being, and the spy who shagged him is said to be a mother and a British actress (undercover, mind you). Anyway, it seems to have worked. Liz Hurley can safely blow her cover now.

A 3-1 win down under should have shut the moral police up.

Rajasthan Royals: (Winners 2008)

Shane Warne and his merry band of perenially underdogged men will crash out for the third succesive year without reaching the semi-finals. Yes, all done and dusted- and they do not really look like catching the Challengers or Super Kings- as expected. Hence, after all the hoolah and hype that surrounded the ‘upsets’ that seemed to happen ever so often, the 4 best teams (on paper) will reach the play-offs. Not much of an expert now, am I? Well, I tried.

Butt Bleeding Blue

After yet another disappointing performance under pressure(at home, no less)- Shane Warne will feel worse about having lost ONLY their fourth home game in 4 years- as opposed to failing to perform at even 50% of their level in 2008. They had the perfect platform- in the fortress, Watson yet to fire, Taylor yet to fire, Botha yet to fail- but then, when you adhere to the whole ‘team’ scenario for 3 whole years, you lose equally hopelessly with that same team with everyone seeming equally inadequate.

Shane Watson chose the most crucial game of the league (against CSK) to hit bigtime. So what if he didn’t score at 2 runs a ball? He went one better and conceded 2 runs a ball for 4 consecutive overs. There you go, Bangladesh- still think you deserve the ‘test’ status? Or should we phone Ireland now?

And we thought this was the closest league ever- which would ‘go down to the wire’. 3 games left for most teams- and the 4 knockout spots are all but sealed. IPL 2011 *Facepalm*

Time to face the conquerers. The team that was supposed to be in the Royal’s position, the team that shared a point with them when their game was rained out- and they were looking good to be humilated (until Gayle arrived). Yes, Vettori has trumped Warne. For once. It would have been a crime if RCB hadn’t managed to reach the playoffs with *that* team. Deccan would know- with Steyn, Ishant, Mishra and Ojha all scratching their foreheads wondering where they could possibly go wrong. So what if their captain seems uninspired? After all, a captain rarely has a say of things nowadays. Ask Dhoni.

Player to watch out for: Does it really matter?

It could be Taylor. It could be Menaria. It could even be Watson- or any other player who had successfully aroused us pre-IPL and then promptly proceeded to do a Rakhi Sawant (complete with a custom-made Jejus)

Royal Challengers Bangalore: (Finals 2009, Semi finals 2010)

After yet another Gayle Blitzcreig that can only be attributed to his new status as a freelance cricketer, the young local Kochi lad Parameswaran has been known to be over the moon for an odd reason- Chris Broad is England’s new T20 captain, and he has humbly credited Yuvraj Singh for slamming 6 sixes of his over back in 2007, a life-changing moment indeed for young Broad. Parameswaran, in the meantime, has gone one up and conceded one more run (37) to Gayle in an over, just to make sure that he will be leading the Tuskers in 2014 (demography and population-wise, Kochi=England. Hence, proved)

Weed me out

Yes indeed. Chris Gayle has resurrected yet another career- and Siddharth Mallya can be forgiven for wanting to shower him with non-alcoholic Kingfisher spring water (as advertised) That Deepika is currently recipient of such showers- will soon be a thing of the past.

Vettori has been credited for turning things around for the bumbling team- that look extremely confident on form, and have taken over the mantle of the second best team in the league right now. By mere statistics, it is Mumbai on top, but the South Indian duo of Bangalore and Chennai are easily the more explosive and exciting teams going around currently. That AB De Villiers has not scored one important run since RCB’s 5th game- is a great indication of how dominant Gayle and Kohli are. Dilshan, of course, scored 53 runs in one innings- duly making up for the 48 runs he had scored in the 10 innings before this. So what if it came against a team led by Jayawardene? Until Harshan Tillakaratane backs his claims up with solid proof, we will not make any sort of snide remarks. Soon.

Facing their Royal counterparts will probably coincide with the peak of their peak- and this promises to be the duel of the week. If things go according to plan, we may be watching yet another MI-RCB semi-final in two weeks…and this time, the loser will NOT go home.

Having said that, I will want to change my constant ‘knockout’ rant into a ‘play-off’ rant. It will still be a rant- albeit with a different meaning with due respect to the format that seems hell-bent on filling Sachin Tendulkar’s cabinet with an elusive trophy. Captain, no less.

Player to watch out for: Saurabh Tiwary

The Jharkhand giant has not had much to do this season- thanks to Daniel Vettori’s anti-Sachin movement (the top 4 batsmen belonging to international teams ONLY). No local talent on show yet- but that may soon change with Dilshan departure to England (finally!). Tiwary may be given an opportunity to open the innings with the monstrous Gayle. Time to pull out a chair, watch the show and then ‘anchor’ the innings after the Jamaican gets bored.


A Royal Win.

What? What do you mean ‘precise’? It is not my fault that Shilpa Shetty was babysitting a teenage Sid Mallya when they decided to ‘just for fun’ name their imaginary cricket teams.

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