By Lokendra Pratap Sahi
Calcutta (The Telegraph): Ramiz Raja, a former Pakistan captain, who is on the commentators’ panel in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL), spoke to The Telegraph over the phone from Jaipur on Monday afternoon.
The following are excerpts:
Q We’re approaching the end of the third week. What are your thoughts on IPL-V?
A There have been quite a few close finishes and the cricket has been eye-catching once again… The fun has been there and it’s tight at the top and in the middle of the table... The one change from the earlier editions, in my view, is that the brightest South African talent is on view. The first couple of editions had seen some of India’s talent getting exposure. This time, the South Africans are making the headlines across franchises.
Who would be your top five players (in random order) so far?
CHRIS GAYLE (Royal Challengers Bangalore): Chris is a complete entertainer and an absolute match-winner. Clearly, that’s a tremendous combination for one person to have.
KEVIN PIETERSEN (Delhi DareDevils): Kevin is tailor-made for T20 and some of his shots have been jaw-dropping… He has shots of such brilliance… He not only plays to the gallery, but also keeps in mind what is in the best interests of the team.
AB DE VILLIERS (Royal Challengers Bangalore): AB is such a fantastic and natural improviser… He’s batting in the middle-order, where things can get tough, but he’s there to be counted. Like Kevin, he has great shots and his reverse-flick is certainly the best in the business.
FAF DU PLESSIS (Chennai Super Kings): Faf has a nice balance… Good technique coupled with aggression… He’s been very consistent and, in my book, has been a great buy for his franchise. He’s excellent in the field, too.
AJINKYA RAHANE (Rajasthan Royals): Rahane has the same approach as his idol and captain, Rahul Dravid… The same intensity, the same commitment… He’s an old-fashioned technician, relying on timing and placement instead of power-hitting. Rahane’s temperament is extremely good and I’m surprised that he hardly gets to play for India… Technically, he’s good for all three formats… I must add that I was impressed when I learnt that he’d moved to the Royals (from the Mumbai Indians) simply because he wanted to be in a franchise where he’d get more opportunities… He didn’t want to sit in the dressing room, merely happy having got a fat pay cheque.
[Mumbaikar Rahane, 23, has played 11 ODIs and two T20 Internationals].
As we speak, which is the team to beat?
The Delhi DareDevils. They have a wealth of experience… They have two current international captains (Mahela Jayawardene and Ross Taylor)… Then, Virender Sehwag has been captaining India once in a while, while Kevin is a former England captain… The franchise has an excellent batting line-up and a very good attack, led by Morne Morkel. Also, in (left-arm spinner) Shahbaz Nadeem, the DareDevils have an enormous talent. It’s for a reason that they’re topping the table.
You must be surprised that the Deccan Chargers, despite the presence of Kumar Sangakkara and Dale Steyn, haven’t yet got off the ground…
The team lacks self–belief and, because of the losses, there’s been no momentum… Kumar (Sangakkara, the captain) has to fire as a batsman and, obviously, he’s feeling the heat…
At times, he loses it (the plot). Steyn is a fabulous bowler but he can only do so much and no more in four overs… He may bowl a great spell, but that will be of no use if runs leak at the other end.
What does it take to succeed in the IPL?
Consistency and, as a consequence, momentum… Additionally, because seven of the 11 players have to be Indians, they’ve got to make meaningful contributions. If that is done, then the pressure on the four overseas players will come down and, perhaps, they may be able to play more freely.
Moving from teams to captains… Who is the one who has stood out?
Dravid. He doesn’t have big names in his team, but has marshalled his resources admirably… Thanks to his leadership, the Royals have been coming across as a committed and intense unit. His work ethic has rubbed off on teammates.
Another 39-year-old, Sourav Ganguly, seems to be making a point, isn’t he?
Well, it’s very apparent that Sourav’s all fired-up.
The last one... Azhar Mahmood (now a British passport-holder), who has finally made it, is the only Pakistani, so to say, turning out in IPL-V. Surely, you’d like plenty of full-fledged Pakistanis to feature in the competition…
Absolutely. We have some of the finest T20 players and the likes of Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal and Mohammed Hafeez would add both glamour and excitement. Hopefully, things will change next season.
I’m surprised Rahane hardly gets to play for India: Ramiz
The former Pakistan captain feels Delhi Daredevils are the team to beat in IPL-5.Yahoo! Cricket – Tue 24 Apr, 2012 12:21 PM IST
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