The Kings Speech

Match#67: Kings XI Punjab v/s Deccan Chargers
Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association, Dharamsala
Form: KXIP- Loss, Win, Win, Win, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Win, Win, Win, Win, 
               DC- Loss, Loss, Win, Loss, Win, Loss, Win, Loss, Loss, Loss, Win, Loss, Win, 
This is it. With Kolkata stuttering at the sight of the ultimate finish-line (atleast for them), the Kings XI have an opportunity to complete one of the greatest comebacks in IPL history- much like Deccan Chargers last year (who was incidentally captained by Adam Gilchrist too). This is their last game- and all they can do is play to form, win this and hope for the best. Fortune may favour the brave and simultaneously result in an unusual amount of dives into the Bay of Bengal. 
For KXIP, this could be the ultimate prize- and failing in the playoffs may just not matter. They have single-handedly brought back the groupstages from the proverbial grave- only to arouse great interest in the gullets of SRK and his Knight Riders. Choking? Possible. Cruel? Yes. Underdog story? HELL YES!
Sadly, with an inferior NRR to KKR, the Kings need to win this game by a whopping margin and hope that KKR get absolutely mauled by MI tomorrow (100 runs atleast). Highly unlikely- but hey, miracles happen. (yes, even this year. Okay, maybe not)
Not much rides on this last game for the Chargers themselves- other than passing on the glory baton to last year’s wooden spooners. All they need to do is lose gracefully. If they are really into suspense, they could go one up and lose badly to help Punjab with their NRR too. Trumping KKR on run-rate would really take the cake- and inevitably lead to the meltdown of one of India’s greatest superstars. If not this year, then when? We cannot help but agree. 
The script could have not been more perfect- unless, of course, Mumbai Indians decide to play spoilsport by resting half their squad tomorrow and promptly being shunned by every North-Indian who comes here with stars in their eyes and dreams in their hearts. Okay, maybe not. But a full house, we deserve!
Bring it on, boys! (one suspects there will be tons of pure ghee, cow milk and truckloads of butter chicken headed to Ambani’s mansion as we speak)
Kings XI Punjab: (Semi finals 2008)
Adam Gilchrist- we owe you an apology. Once again, you have shown to us the true meaning of the Shastri-abused ‘coming to the party’.  You truly waited right until the end to unleash one of the most destructive batting displays in current memory (trumping your 2008 innings). You are, indeed, a big-match player- proven time and again by your continual failures through the meaningless group stages of every world cup only to set the stage alight with a blistering back-to-the-walls innings in the final. We only hope, for IPL-2011’s sake, that it is not a bit too late- and if the climax of your awe inspiring story means heartbreakingly knocking out KKR from the tournament, so be it! 

Wake up Call
Wake Up Call

We, much like a much-loved (controversially) Western nation, love the underdog. And you and your Punjab da tadka of a team have truly personified the very meaning of the word. So far. This last hurdle may not see you play another big innings (going by your law of averages of 1 in 15)- but we hope someone else steps up and drags you to victory, just so that you guys know you have done everything one could possibly ask to boost the sagging ratings of this mega-tournament. Oh, and reach the playoffs too. If your century came 4 games too late, I take back everything I have said right now and christen you a tragic hero. Distinguished, still. 

If dropping Piyush Chawla has given him 7 wickets in the last 2 games, then we suggest you drop yourself whole of next year till the semi-final. A double century, by pure logic, might just happen. Age? What age? We never said anything about your age. *sheepish grin*
Yours truly,
Much-humbled fanboy
With Praveen Kumar virtually unplayable and even Ryan Harris showing signs of de-fossilization, the signs are wonderful for this delicately-balanced team that is hell-bent on ending their journey as they started it- ALL GUNS BLAZING. After losing their way mid-way through the tournament, it will be a pity to see this exciting bunch of no-hopers cease to exist if KKR stick to their script- but some dreams are meant to be shattered. Decapitating an intoxicated RCB side dimmed in comparison to another milestone achievement of theirs: Making Gayle bat out a maiden, before getting him for ZERO. Ouch. Talk about rubbing salt into RCB’s bloody wounds. 
Player(s) to watch out for: Praveen Kumar, Shaun Marsh and Paul Valthaty 

The trio of consistent future-Punjab citizens will look for one final push- with Marsh hoping to go one up and getting that elusive IPL century. Valthaty will look to make up for Gilchrist’s impending failure and PK must do what he does best- bowl till swingdom comes (and hence enable Chawla to continue making his ‘statement’)
Time for the Kings to make their farewell speech, and a glorious (either way) one is promises to be! (Ending on even points always makes it a little more respectful)
Deccan Chargers: (Winners 2009)
You’d think a Kings Win has been taken for granted (from above), and that there was seriously no other team playing in this game. Well, there is- and they are playing AWAY from home- which automatically makes them dangerous. DC gave their outgoing captain a great farewell by destroying Pune with considerable ease- and Sanga will atleast exit with his head, helmet and gloves (and white flag) held high. So much for Sri-Lankan vengeance. What? Kochi? Who?

I've found myself. Finally.
I’ve found myself. Finally.

With Amit Mishra justifying his international selection and Ishant Sharma blowing hot and cold (time for ‘hot’ now), Daniel Christian too seems to have discovered his true identity- he is a bowling all-rounder. All this while, we thought….never mind.

As it is, Deccan look like they are out of the wooden danger-zone- making sure that this year, there will indeed be a new team to mock at. Although, to be fair, it feels like Delhi have been at the bottom forever now. How can this possibly be their first time? Not their fault this tournament feels like it has lasted through 2010 and half of 2011. But wait, what about Rajasthan? WOODEN SPOON? REALLY?
Depends on the game after this, now. Calm down.
Player to watch out for: Sunny Sohal (Deol)
The Punjabi marauder who seems to have developed a long-term disease called cricket-suicideosis, seems to enjoy riding his luck into batting oblivion. Everyone except members of his own team will take offense to the ridiculously-clumsy and ugly shots he manages to invent and destroy at the same time. Forming a half-decent opening partnership with Dhawan, he must go on to bigger scores to make up for the absence of Sangakkara (and the presence of White). 

Dharamsala seems to have brought out the best in Yash Chopra’s bunch of underdog heroes- and with Gilchrist and Valthaty launching every second ball into McleodGanj, it will be interesting to see what happens if Marsh (due bigtime) fails. Will there be a spine to the middle-order? After breaking all sorts of records on Tuesday, expect a gritty win of a different sort- spirit oozing and all. 
Deccan Chargers, thank you for the non-memories. Kings XI- Good night, and good luck.

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