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IPL - Predicting the unpredictable
by Lalit Dhingra
May 19, 2008
Predicting the unpredictable

Lalit Dhingra predicts the four teams that will move to the next phase.

The fever of IPL is on, and the excitement is no less than the World Cup. If city-based teams in USA can play World Series, so can us in India. It is now a new revolution and to a certain extent it has changed the face of Cricket in India.

In a Whirlwind tournament like this, it is very difficult to predict the Top Two or Four teams as things change very fast. Early success does not mean anything and 6 weeks of non-stop grilling cricket with daily flights and different venues is making players look very tired and we see decreasing intensity, at least by some of the teams.

As we reach the end of second round of matches in the IPL tournament, the question in everyone's mind is which team will take the 1.2M dollar check. I think the bottomline in this type of a long tournament is momentum and the teams that are letting this slip out of their grasp are going to miss out on the semi final berth.

At least there is one thing that is very clear by now and that is the Royal Challengers will not be able to get more than 100,000 dollars and they will be very lucky to add extra 25,000 dollars in their kitty. No team would ever like to be bottom of the points table in a tournament. But somebody's got to finish at the bottom and increasingly, it is looking like that team is going to be Royal Challengers.

Dravid is bearing the brunt of the disappointing performance by the Royal Challengers. Media is also posing tough questions to him on the composition of the team, but all said and done, none of his team members have performed and they are now the punching bags of the tournament - like the Kenyan team at the world cup team, every other team would like to beat them.

If you think about it for a second, it becomes clear that the under-performers have been Deccan Chargers. This star studded team has players who were best suited to T20 cricket. They are packed with a bunch of match-winners - Gilchrist, Gibbs, and Afridi. The team is just not firing and Rohit has become a something of a lone Deccan Charger.

Their bowling lacks depth and, quite frankly, they have too many weak links. Luckily for them there is no controversy yet in their camp and the media has also spared them. Perhaps a reflection of the team's ownership by a media company.

That said, it is clear that they are vying for the bottom two spots on the point table.

Top Four Contenders

Rajasthan Royals: Is anyone going to stop the Rajasthan Royals, the so-called underdogs? They have proved to be anything but! Their recent results clearly show they can't be taken lightly anymore. They surely will go through to the semi final.

A closer analysis, however, underlines why exactly they are on such a roll. The four foreign players are easily the most influential in the league today - an attacking opening batsman, a strong all rounder, a deceptive left arm fast bowler and a world class leg spinner with great leadership skills.

This team has the right people for the right job - men for every contingency and every situation. Add a mix of enthusiastic youngsters like Jadeja, Asgonkar and Yusuf Pathan and they become a very potent combination. The only mission for them seems to be to win and till now they have shown great team spirit.

Kings XI Punjab: The other team that seems set to go through to the semis is Kings XI Punjab. The team has some good individuals who have the capability of taking on any team on their day. Cricketers like Yuvraj , Sangakara, Hopes, Jayawardane, and Irfan Pathan have had a great IPL so far. Sreesanth after the 'slap-gate' has started bowling better - this may have been a recipe for success! The team is combining well and peaking at the time.

Chennai Super Kings: Chennai with their lucky and cool leader M.S. Dhoni look as if they will also go through. They have managed to get through some hurdles and look set for semis. They are probably a weaker team than the Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab but have been combining well on match days and are playing good cricket. They are one of the teams to watch in this tournament.

Mumbai Indians: Mumbai Indians have had a great resurrection. Talk about peaking at the right time! Jayasuriya is clicking almost on cue and looking very dangerous. Tendulkar is back and is ready to start firing in matches that matter; just as he has shown in Australia.

Mumbai Indians are likely to face stiff competition for the fourth semi final spot from Delhi Daredevils. The Daredevils have been unlucky in the last few matches. Delhi's team has good players for the T20 tournament and has combined well so far and with some luck and math they might inch through to semis.

If matches could have been won in press-conferences then Kolkata Knight Riders would have been through to the semis by now. Unfortunately in my opinion they seem to have missed the bus. Having 4 good fast bowlers does not necessarily win a T20 tournament. They are missing a good batting line up and Saurav seems clueless and lost in the field when things are not going right for him.

So now the big question is which teams are going to be in the final. I will not attempt this prediction now as I do not want to take the fun away from the betting community.

Lalit Dhingra, a keen cricket fan, is a senior executive at one of India's leading IT solutions companies
 
More Views by Lalit Dhingra
  IPL - Predicting the unpredictable
  IPL - The Biggest Cricket Carnival
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