Five weeks into the tournament and a clearer picture is (almost) beginning to emerge, says IPL correspondent Chetan Narula.
Team of the Week
Kolkata Knight Riders seem to have gained momentum. Two wins, one over Chennai Super Kings and the other over Pune Warriors, have established them firmly as second favourites (while front-runners Delhi Daredevils have enjoyed a longish break). That said, there are still some negatives for the Knight Riders. Their middle-order is a bit too fragile, their bowling is heavily reliant on Sunil Narine and Yusuf Pathan is still not firing. If the last issue alone could be resolved, they will be more than just second favourites. The business end of the tournament is a good time to begin for Pathan.
Disappointment of the Week
Chennai Super Kings haven’t looked like champions this season – they have played well below their potential. It can be attributed much to the tiredness of their Indian stars as well as the inability of the fringe players to come good. In a table that has seen other teams make progress over the past seven days, Chennai have only regressed. In the space of three fixtures they lost two important matches to Mumbai and Kolkata, and won only against Deccan Chargers. On their current form, they are only headed further south down the table.
Winner of the Week
Sourav Ganguly returned home to Eden Gardens and for quite some time during the Kolkata Knight Riders versus Pune Warriors game, the crowd didn’t really know who to cheer for. People swarmed in dressed up in the blue of Pune, yet carrying the Knight Riders’ flags. In an intense game, Ganguly had his moments, in the field as well as with the bat. In the end, he came in at No.7 with his team floundering and they eventually lost. No one seemed to mind though. The crowd had cheered for Kolkata and its ‘Prince’ regardless.
Value for Money of the Week
Once upon a time Dwayne Smith used to play for Mumbai Indians. Then they bought out his contract and he wasn’t taken up by any other team. Later, Mumbai brought Mitchell Johnson into their squad, but he got injured. So Smith was given a call. IPL rules state that an injured player can be replaced by another of the same price. Johnson cost Mumbai 300kUSD. That was not a large amount for Smith, who hit 14 runs off the last 3 balls to defeat Chennai Super Kings.
Dwayne Smith (right) celebrates after hitting 14 off the last three balls of a Ben Hilfenhaus over to see Mumbai Indians over the line against Chennai Super Kings. It was Smith’s first game since his return to the Mumbai squad.
Flop of the Week
Pune Warriors lost to Deccan Chargers two weeks ago. Then they had a break and came back to play Deccan again in the return leg. They lost again, becoming the only side to lose to the last placed side twice. If one loss to Deccan is enough to throw you out of contention in a points table that is jammed up at best, two losses to them means you were never in contention in the first place. This has been quite a fall for a team that was leading during the first two weeks of competition.
Click here for Wisden’s tribute to Rajasthan Royals captain and Indian legend Rahul Dravid, in AOC’s list of most loved cricketers