The Champions Cometh: Homebodies

Match#48: Kolkata Knight Riders v/s Chennai Super Kings

Eden Gardens, Kolkata

Form: KKR- Loss, Win, Win, Win, Loss, Loss, Win, Win, Win,  Loss,
            CSK- Win, Loss, Win, Loss, Loss, Win, Win, Win, Win,

A sulking SRK will retur to Eden Gardens with a sinking feeling of Deja Vu- so close, yet so far. All KKR had to do was play their natural game (quite strong, mind you) and thrash Kochi just- as was expected of them.

But KKR now find themselves with 4 losses out of 10 games- STILL fighting for a spot in the semis- a target that should have been wrapped up and presented to their owner as a gift for basing his next film on them. And as the old saying goes, ‘When it sh*its…’, or wait- was it ‘when it rains…’?

Anyhow, to make matters worse, they will now face the best team (on form) in the tournament in a rematch of the game that kickstarted IPL-2011. Of course, KKR will not want a repeat of that. Ever. Again.

But they will take consolation from the fact that if this tournament ever went ‘on form’- Kochi (formerly known as K-040000) would have been eliminated ruthlessly by now. And SRK would never have had another film after 1998. But we digress…

Kolkata Knight Riders:

Till the 19th over of the Kochi innings, everything was going according to plan (or fate or destiny, if you are a KKR fan). But then, a 34 year old Brett Lee conceded 21 runs to a 36 year old Brad Hodge- and as they said, the rest was Underdog history.

Because of KKR, atleast one of the debutants will ‘fight’ for a spot in the knockouts- not that the Tuskers do not deserve it…but it is tough to imagine any team with S. Sreesanth in Orange actually make a comeback of sorts.


Why are we choking if he is playing for Pune?

What? World Cup? Final? It was blue, come on.

What is actually unforgivable is the way the KKR middle-order folded against a typically mediocre bowling attack. Okay, so the law of averages came to the fore- or maybe Gambhir and Tiwari succumbed to the sheer shock of watching Eoin Morgan and Jacques Kallis open the innings (and actually do quite well)

Yusuf Pathan flattered to decieve once again, inspite of RP Singh trying his very best to do a Brett Lee. In the end, it was down to the only chink in KKR’s armour. Mental strength. Or weakness.

Of course, facing MSD will do them a world of good on that front. They will learn how to lose- and will go down fighting too.

Player to watch out for: Eoin Morgan

To be fair to the only Britisher in the league, he is being given a fair chance to wield some willow- and slowly but steadily, he has proven himself to be of admirable reputation (considering English standards)

If he has to really cement his reputation as the ultimate finisher (or the next best thing to South Africa), he must drag his team to two more wins. And then duly choke with the finishing line in sight.

Chennai Super Kings: (Winners 2010, Finals 2008, Semi finals 2009)

After the most enigmatic 4 hours against the Rajasthan Royals (even by the Warne’s social standards), the Super Kings will look to continue their unbeaten streak against yet another surprise knockout contender. Yes, the emergence of KKR was always going to be surprising.

A subtle message to my critics

As predicted, Dhoni’s men have come into their own after chilling out for the first 5 games. If one ever needed proof of experience and ‘peaking at the right moment’, please follow whatever MSD does- even if it means sitting in a bathroom all night waiting for him to ‘peak’ in the morning.

No faults really, at the moment, with this rampaging yellow brigade- so much so, that they look like outright favourites this time, unlike last year. Of course, they cannot do any better (on the whole) than they did last year, but MI will be hoping to emulate Chennai’s ex-poor form in the group stages to create an ‘illusion’ of weakness.

Dominating half the game against this team is still not enough- for they will pull you back when you least expect it, and then cruise to victory as if nothing was ever wrong. That Liz Hurley has left the country- was very evident from the drooping body language of the Royals on Wednesday.

KKR will be slightly afraid- for the inhuman heat that had sapped the stuffing out of Doug Bollinger’s face for the first 10 overs will not be as intolerable back at home. In fact, CSK will be delighted to play at a venue not equipped with ambulances and doctors on standby in this weather (unless Dada slams a half-century at this ground)

Player to watch out for: Shadab Jakati

The invisible man of the CSK squad has been faithfully adhering to the script of this IPL- just by being born a left-arm spinner. One of many (of the same species) who are considering a move to Bangladesh to guarantee automatic national selection- Jakati is fast proving to be Chennai’s lucky charm (apart from the proverbial ‘partnership breaker’)

The murderous Watson drive that stuck to his hands on Wednesday is what proved to be the moment of inspiration that ‘homies’ CSK desperately needed. Of course, consistently outperforming R. Ashwin in the last few games is ‘all part of the plan’ for this unassuming journeyman- who might still never wear the national jersey.

Not his fault that the IPL began when he was 28 and Kohli was 20. Right?

Prediction:

KKR will feel good about the fact that Chennai are playing away from their fortress- and CSK may look a little more vulnerable in the midst of 60,000 passionate screaming fans who may be quite pumped up with the return of Dada- to another team.

Still, a Chennai win could make things interesting- and is most likely to happen. Especially now that life seems normal- and KKR are huffing and puffing their way to immortality (by their standards)

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