Match#51: Kings XI Punjab v/s Pune Warriors India
Punjab Cricket Association stadium, Mohali, Chandigarh
Form Guide:KXIP- Loss, Win, Win, Win, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss,
PWI- Win, Win, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss,
Kings XI Punjab: (Semi finals 2008)
All is normal with the world again. Osama Bin Laden has been killed- and Punjab finally look like the team that finished dead bottom last year. Yes, they are not even a one-man team anymore. The V effect seems to have worn off- and has left a clueless over-aggressive right-hander trying to make sense of his sudden rise to immortality.
That Gilly himself is playing true to form (and age) was expected, and it is just a cruel twist of fate- an unfortunate joke of sorts- to see Piyush Chawla take 4 wickets in 2 games at a rate of only 9 an over. He has peaked. Unfortunately, his team is already huffing its way down the next peak.
Comprehensively slaughtered by RCB in the previous game (that puts NRR out of question for them now), Punjab will be left wishing desperately to avoid playing the maximum number of games left for any team. Okay, so they were overwhelmed by Gayle- but that does not warrant a Pune-style surrender that made a mockery of the famous North Indian spirit (Aussies at work, mate)
Which brings us to the magnificent prospect of this face-off against fellow Wooden-spoon competitors Pune- a clash of true equals- having lost 12 games between them in their last…12 games.
Player to watch out for: Ryan McLaren
The ex-Mumbai Indian will be hoping to be promoted up the order just to prove that he is a bits-and-pieces player that promptly filled in for the perenially empty spot of opening partner to Sachin- and made some useful contributions (one cannot recall- with bat or ball?) to take MI to their maiden final last year. That Shikhar Dhawan had other ‘maidens’ in mind while playing out that infamous ‘maiden’- is in no way the never-in-favour Australian (or South African? Hmm)
Pune Warriors India:
With the simplest copy-paste form-guide in the league right now, Pune- with 8 losses in a row- is clearly sole owner of a prestigious IPL record. Even the commentators are baffled as to how a team that looks so strong on paper can possibly falter as consistently as Dean Jones in an interracial party.
BBC: Bumbling Boys Club
The standards have been set so high that even the Daredevils will feel safe now- and can play with gay abandon as they approach the tail end of the league (which will obviously result in a few upsets). Yuvraj Singh and Geoff Marsh are simultaneously adding priceless chapters to ‘How to loss an IPL match 101’ (100% success rate guaranteed)- and they seem to be solely responsible for a lot of Punekars moving back to Mumbai inspite of inflation and higher costs of living.
Their argument: ‘How can one consistently be harebrained enough to make sure that the best two batsmen of the team come in at the crease ONLY when the required rate is 11 an over?’
Hence, a trend is emerging- one which is quickly extinguishing Yuvi’s hopes of EVER leading an Indian team, simultaneously squashing any hopes Uthappa has of ever crossing the 30s in a IPL game.
Unbelievably abject at chasing par scores (their ‘planning’ puts Mumbai’s ‘planning’ to shame), the Warriors are the first team to exit IPL 2011 in a blaze of debutant glory.
Their only hope, as shocking as it may sound, may be the arrival of the evergreen Saurav Ganguly- very likely to play this game against an erratic Punjab side.
When Yuvi responded with a ‘he has to practice first- to get a game’ at the toss when asked if Ganguly would play against MI, he must have chuckled at his own wittiness deep inside- knowing that the words ‘game’ and ‘practice’ seem to sound like one word to his side nowadays. Whichever way one looks at it.
Having said that, Dada has scripted yet another nothing-to-lose-come-from-behind chapter in his own life. He will definitely have the last laugh- because coming into a team that is bottom of the league (by far) can only mean ‘better’ things in the future.
A win or two now could only give rise to the inevitable ‘Dada inspires Yuvi’ debates- and that will do no harm to the beleaguered ex-captain, fresh from consecutive IPL-2011 rejections.
Player to watch out for: Saurav Ganguly
Let us be romantics, for once, and defy all logic. Pune cannot possibly humiliate themselves more (apart from actually being relegated to, say, English T20 cricket? Oops), and the arrival of this controversial ageless left-hander will probably fire them up in the quest to be known as the team who ‘believed’ in Dada’s abilities when everyone else shunned him.
Yes, right, just like Greg Chappell did.
When Canada faced Kenya in WC 2011, it was difficult to predict the outcome- or any outcome altogether. With both teams capable of losing from any situation whatsoever, it will be the team that wants this loss the most, and will go that extra half mile to achieve it.
Hence, Pune it is. (Go figure)