- May 23
- 12:23 AM
The team that plays with most freedom will win
I like the new play-off rules because they reward consistency and the two most consistent teams have finished one and two. Mumbai blew hot and cold, so did Bangalore and Chennai and that is why they were duelling for third and fourth.
But things will be different once you hit the knock-out stage. On a big day, a match winner can produce a memorable innings and knock out the opposition, as we saw with that fabulous innings from Adam Gilchrist at the Centurion against Delhi in the second edition of the Indian T20 League. It is like a big serve and volley player, not very good at day-in-day-out tennis on the circuit but very dangerous in a semi-final at Wimbledon.
That is why Mumbai and Chennai will be so dangerous and that is why Delhi and Kolkata wouldn’t have fancied meeting them too much. But as it turns out they face each other on a high scoring surface in Bangalore. (Interesting too that if Mumbai win that one, there won’t be a single home game in the play-offs!)
By the time you get to the play-offs, the surface shouldn’t matter too much but the slower surfaces in Pune and Chennai could have a big impact. The last match in Pune before the play-offs, between Kolkata and Pune, was played on a very poor pitch and that cannot encourage good cricket. I believe a good final wicket should be a 160 surface for it gives teams an opportunity to come back, and suggests bowlers and batsmen have as equal an opportunity as T20 can allow.
Delhi’s great strength has been their early batting and their quick bowling, both of which were just right for pitches like the Kotla and at Dharamsala. They have 53 points on the Castrol Index and a strong Batting Momentum of 53 as well. But there is a hole in the middle order with Ross Taylor not being in great form and the fact that they are one good Indian middle order batsman short. That is why they are trying to play Venugopal Rao at number three even though Mahela Jayawardena is better suited there for, like in the game against Mohali, they need the Sri Lankan to bat all the way down. Their success from here will be determined by how they combat the conditions.
Kolkata have been the best balanced team in the tournament with the ability to switch players depending on the conditions. They have the highest Bowling Efficiency in the competition so far with 54 points along with 46 Batting Momentum points. They could play four spinners if needed and just as easily switch to four seamers if required, and all this with a squad of just 20! Their bowlers have been excellent but I just sense a little brittleness to their batting. Gautam Gambhir has held it together but with Yusuf Pathan out of form and neither Jacques Kallis nor Manoj Tiwary having a particularly great strike rate, they could face a crisis if Gambhir goes early on the big day. The plus is that on slow surfaces their bowling can make a small score look bigger especially with Sunil Narine’s four overs now looked at the same way as Malinga’s!
As you would imagine, there is very little to choose and the team that plays with maximum freedom will be the team that will become the Champion.
Posted by Harsha Bhogle on 05/23 at 12:23 AM
Harsha Bhogle is a very popular cricket thinker, commentator and writer from India. In 1991-92, he became the first Indian commentator to be invited by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation during India's cricket series before the 1992 Cricket World Cup. Harsha Bhogle has also been strategic advisor to the Mumbai Indians team of the Indian Premier League. Known for his incisive comments and honest yet kind commentary on cricket and cricketers, Harsha is one of the brightest intellects the game has been blessed with in its long history. Much like its ambassador, Castrol is known to be a trusted teller of truth. Castrol works closely with its consumers and customers and with the help of honest and clear communication, tells the story as it is. Always helping improve performance and always helping its customers win.Less