No longer just cannon fodder


The Indian Premier League has begun in right earnest and as the teams travel back and forth in the summer heat, you can be sure it is going to be a hard grind again.

The early going in the annual cricket carnival has thrown up interesting results, though if you happen to be a Delhi Daredevils fan, there is nothing to feel happy about.

There is no doubting that in the absence of heavyweights like Kevin Pietersen and Jesse Ryder, their batting does look fragile. But the bigger problem has been the inability of Virender Sehwag to play in the first two matches thanks to back spasms.

Viru and his bad back are well known to anyone who has followed his career, but given the grind of cricket in the IPL, to be fit for the long tournament will be very challenging.

On Saturday, at the Kotla, even as the Daredevils made a hash of their chase against Rajasthan Royals, the ability of bowlers to change the nature of a contest came to the fore once again.

If in the lung opener in Kolkata, Delhi were done in by the magic of Sunil Narine, on their home turf against Rajasthan, it was a terrible capitulation. David Warner had played his part and the hosts were well placed, but a rash of wickets spelt doom for Delhi. I think the man who made all the difference was Kevon Cooper, whose wicketto- wicket medium- pace came at a crucial time as Delhi needed just 22 off the last three overs.

Last season, Delhi had started very well, thanks to Sehwag’s solid batting and Pietersen’s heavy scoring. But now there seems a void in the line- up, though it was good to see Umesh Yadav and Ashish Nehra bowl well on Saturday.

It is very clear that it is not the big hitters who are hogging the headlines. In Kolkata, Narine spelt doom for Delhi.

In Bangalore, though Chris Gayle was in his element, it was the inspired bowling of Vinay Kumar which caught the eye as Royal Challengers Bangalore beat Mumbai Indians in a thriller. All this only goes to show that a lot of strategising is happening out there in the middle now and the big hitters aren’t the only ones calling the shots.

A similar trend was noticed in Hyderabad as well, where in a lowscoring match, the SunRisers defeated Pune Warriors thanks to the hot spells bowled by the dangerous Dale Steyn and leg-spinner Amit Mishra.

While it may be too early to predict that bowlers will have a bigger role to play in the IPL this summer, it is an indicator that despite having lots of sloggers in each team, contests will not be onesided.

Looking at the wickets prepared till now at various centres, there is a clear message from the Board of Control for Cricket in India that the pitches be sporting.

One of the grievances last year was that home teams were preparing wickets to suit their own bowlers. But today, just because Delhi has a predominantly medium- fast attack does not mean they will have an advantage at the Kotla.

Likewise, in Kolkata, Narine’s presence does not mean they can prepare tracks which will assist spinners outright. From here on till the end of the tournament, it is important that wickets at all centres be sporting. Much as we like to see lusty hitting in the IPL, the bowlers have adapted their games not just to survive, but also to change the course of a match.

Teams which have not started off well – notably Delhi – will have to do their homework all over again. Such is the format of the tournament that teams have to regroup fast and be prepared for non- stop cricket.

Coming to the crowd participation, it is clear some of the venues are doing good business vis-a-vis the sale of tickets. A place like Bangalore is struggling to accommodate all the fans queueing up to buy tickets at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, though it has a decent capacity.

Chennai will once again come into focus as more teams travel to the southern metropolis for away matches. With the Tamil Nadu government adamant that Sri Lankan players cannot play there, it is about time the Qualifier and Eliminator are moved out.

After all, there is no way there can be fair cricket at a venue where visiting teams have to leave out their marquee Sri Lankans.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Mumbai Indians vs Kolkata Knight Riders

Mumbai Indians vs Kolkata Knight Riders

Abu Dhabi: Kolkata captain Gautam Gambhir elects to bat in the season-opener of IPL-7. More »

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

The court emphasised that the tainted administrator can no longer work for the BCCI. More »

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong and if you do the wrong thing it will be found out' More »

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Welcome to another season of a league that many watch but few trust. More »

Mitchell Johnson may quit T20s for Test cricket

Mitchell Johnson may quit T20s for Test cricket

Australia's Mitchell Johnson may quit limited-overs cricket to prolong his test career with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series in England, the fast bowler… More »

There's a lot going on: Fleming

There's a lot going on: Fleming

He experienced anxious moments in the lead-up to the tournament as the courts decided on whether to suspend the franchise, he said, but stressed that the… More »

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Former Pakistan cricket captain Rashid Latif said Tuesday he turned down the job of national chief selector because he could not work with ex-players tainted… More »

We are not over-confident: Bailey

We are not over-confident: Bailey

Indian Premier League — George Bailey-led Kings XI Punjab will face Chennai Super Kings on Friday. More »

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

MoU between BCCI & its units to avoid double taxation delayed after a few decline to share details. More »

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Their main concern, once again, is the fast bowling More »

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

New Zealand selectors included two new caps in a 15-man Test squad named Tuesday to tour the West Indies, with injury-hit spinner Dan Vettori's future… More »

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The Preview — Defending champions Mumbai Indians take on Kolkata Knight Riders More »

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

He was aggrieved by the allegations against him during the hearing. More »

India: cricket's Brazil

India: cricket's Brazil

They are tough to beat with a big talent base exposed to good facilities. (CYCSPL) More »

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Franchises are doing their bit to refurbish the image of the tainted league. More »

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

The revival of Indo-Pak Test ties could take place in UAE. More »

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Michael Klinger has revealed he felt compelled to leave South Australia after being told he would be only a fringe part of the Redbacks' plans for next season, and disputed the suggestion that he left… More »

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

'This time around we will hope to go few more steps ahead and actually get that trophy' More »

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Apart from the foreign players a lot of behind-the-scene activity has taken place in selecting the Indian domestic players. More »

Tendulkar, Ganguly to promote soccer

Tendulkar, Ganguly to promote soccer

Leading Spanish club Atletico Madrid and former cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly are among the owners of eight franchises of a new Indian… More »

This isn’t my first trip to India: Neesham

This isn’t my first trip to India: Neesham

Kiwi all-rounder wants to utilise the India leg to explore the country’s tourist attractions. More »

Ishant wanted to quit ODIs

Ishant wanted to quit ODIs

Says his mother made him change his mind. More »

Supreme Court says no to BCCI’s request

Supreme Court says no to BCCI’s request

Bench refuses to grant access to recordings of Srini and Dhoni’s depositions before Mudgal committee. More »

Pietersen’s ‘little’ secret is out

Pietersen’s ‘little’ secret is out

A fractured little finger could now throw the Delhi Daredevils captain out of action at the start of this season. More »