Who’s the real ICON now, guys?
Here, we take a look at the team news of the final 5 teams participating in IPL-2012, a list that does not include the Kochi Tuskers Kerala:
Kumara Sangakkara, one of the best wicketkeeper-batsmen of all time, will still be in charge of this underperforming outfit. A major setback will be Ishant Sharma not being able to partner Dale Steyn this time, after single-handedly wrecking the Kochi Tuskers in a memorable match last year. This will also be the team with the maximum domestic upcoming stars, with players like Chipli and Sunny Sohal leading the charge.
Darren Bravo, hailed by many as the next Lara, will be playing this high-profile tournament for the first time. He will only be available after the Australia Test Series, where he will look to continue an impressive start to his young Test Career.
Daniel Harris, an Australian domestic veteran, will be looking to further his credentials as one of the most effective T20 specialists Down Under, by providing some much-needed stability in the brittle middle order.
Parthiv Patel looks set to take over the gloves from Sangakkara when needed, and is one of the Tusker casualties from last season.
MVP- Jean Paul Duminy. A timely return back to the Test squad back in New Zealand, and a century to boot, Duminy will be crucial to the fortunes of this relatively weak squad if they are to come anywhere near the top 4.
Prediction- Bottom half
Nothing has changed in a year, trust me.
Kings XI Punjab:
Adam Gilchrist will be wicketkeeper-coach-mentor-captain, hoping to emulate Shane Warne as one of the freakshows-cum-fairytales of the tournament. The team retains most of its core players, and may still rely on the firepower of the top 3 to get them high scores. Valthaty will try to make leaps and bounds to put himself in contention for International consideration, especially now that the Team India opening slot is being tested by various rotation policies.
The insanely talented ex-enigma of Pakistani cricket, Azhar Mahmood, at age 37, will look to contribute with his vast wealth of experience after having played for no less than 11 domestic teams over his career. He was a big hit back in Surrey, and is known to surprise many with his agility.
Stuart Broad, arguably England’s best Test Bowler, will play his first IPL only after hoping to dismantle Lanka in the Test Series. Broad might feel a bit awkward playing for a team once captained by arch-nemesis and tormentor Yuvraj Singh, and will look to wipe out those brutal T20 memories.
David Hussey plays his first tournament in pink, a valuable addition to a team low on confidence after a topsy-turvy last year.
MVP- David Hussey. Easily the most resourceful limited overs specialist around, Huss will go a long way in preventing the frequent middle-order collapses that plagued the team last year.
Prediction- Bottom Half
Kolkata Knight Riders:
A team that looks more of a finished product than most, will still miss some individual superstars, instead depending on the likes of experienced campaigners like Kallis and Lee to provide some impetus. Gambhir, though, makes for an impressive leader.
Marchant De Lange- One of the new stars in the South African Pace Quartet, De Lange will be in formidable partnership with test-free Lee, and will add to probably the best bowling lineup in the IPL.
Sunil Narine- A partnership with Shakib for a few games will give us a better indication of his role in the longer run. Could play some crucial games.
James Pattinson, who was apparently on the bench last year, is sure to get an extended run by captain Gambhir after he tormented half the Indian team in the Test Series Down Under. He is yet to be tested in these conditions, and will look to shed the Aussie curse in the sub-continent.
MVP- Shakib Al Hasan. Fresh from a historic Asia Cup man-of-the-series campaign, he will be playing only miles away from his ancestral home, and will feel completely at ease with the conditions. His lower order histrionics have a method to them, and he will be a crucial cog in the latter stages once players like Kallis and Lee tire a bit.
Prediction- Top 2.
Bangalore Royal Challengers-
The squad still consists of the core superstars that helped them reach the final last year (Gayle, and Gayle), and are easily the most powerful proven batting lineup here. Adding to that, Kohli is currently the best limited overs batsman in the world- specializing in HUGE chases. What is a worry still, though, is their bowling- that still depends on captain Vettori.
Vinay Kumar, one of the most expensive Indian buys ever, could be Mallya’s worst business decision this side of his Airlines. You never know, though, with Kumar bowling at the death and getting tonked, he might still pick up enough wickets to merit another selection.
Charl Langeveldt, the ageless man of South African Cricket, might not be a constant selection- but you can count on him to bowl a dot ball when the chips are down. Atleast.
MVP- Virat Kohli and Chris Gayle and…Vettori and AB and Dilshan. Oh, how a team depends on players like these. A collective failure is not just a possibility. But until Gayle arrived midway through the season last year, these same players were finding it hard to click as a unit- with 3 losses in their first 4 games. Prediction- Top 4
We need to talk about Kevin
News- Shane Warne is history. Rahul Dravid is captain, and the Royals still remain those one of the rare teams that are the film equivalent of arthouse cinema, refusing to sell out to massive commercial aspirations. They are also generous recipients of a player previously known as S. Sreesanth, the Kochi flag bearer.
Brad Hodge and Brad Hogg, the grand old men of Australian domestic cricket (one of them is a double World Cup Winner, mind you)- with a combined age of 80, will look to pull back some years along with their young captain (40 himself)- fresh from premature International retirement.
Dinesh Chandimal, in all seriousness, will be a much needed addition to a lineup that will miss Watson for an entire month. The tragic part is that Chandimal himself will miss the first few games, on international duty with the team against England.
Kevin Cooper, a Trinidadian kid with a batting reputation to boot, could be a surprise package with Watson absent for the first month.
Sreesanth, all heart and fire, will try to put behind Kochi woes and begin a new chapter in his career. Unfortunately.
MVP- Johan Botha. Shane Warne’s final masterstroke in his last season was to promote this underutilized South African spinner to the top of the batting order- a move that further pushed Warnie into the record books as the best Captain that Australia never had. Botha, no doubt, is a handy leader to have in the team too.
Prediction- Bottom Half (Possibly Bottom Two)