Too early to call the IPL semi-final line-up?
The Indian Premier League points table indicates
that Deccan Chargers, Delhi Daredevils and Mumbai Indians should take up 3 of the 4 semi-final spots. Yet, it is perhaps worth pointing out that less than a third of the league phase games
of this IPL season have been completed.
Each team plays 14 games in the league phase and most teams have something like 9-10 games more to play. That's a huge number of games still in hand to reliably predict a semi-final lineup. Bangalore Royal Challengers maybe down right now, but you really can't rule out anything for any side right now.
The key aspect in the remaining games is who will be available, who won't be and who will replace the ones that're missing.
The only international cricket being played is West Indies tour of England. The teams impacted are Kolkata Knight Riders (Gayle), Bangalore Royal Challengers (Pietersen) and Delhi Daredevils (Shah and Collingwood - are they both considered great 12th man material? Is that why Delhi bought them and haven't bothered playing both yet, especially considering they're going to be unavailable from next week?). Chennai Super Kings have already lost Flintoff.
Some of the Aussies currently playing against Pakistan will return. Kings XI Punjab will especially benefit considering they will have Hopes and Lee back (Marsh is injured). Bracken will be back for Bangalore Royal Challengers, Hussey (David, not Michael who's currently shopping for runs in Perth) returns for Kolkata Knight Riders, Symonds
returns for Deccan Chargers and Watson for Rajasthan Royals, providing he doesn't injure himself while collecting his bags after getting off the flight from Dubai to Johannesburg.
Then there are some reasonably known 'foreign' players who haven't even been used so far (BRC - Cameron White; DC - Chamara Silva, Vaas & Zoysa; DD - Andrew McDonald & Maharoof; KXIP - Katich & Pomersbach; KKR - Langeveldt, Mortaza; MI - Dilhara Fernando, Mills, Ashraful & Ronchi; RR - Morne Morkel). Some others (McGrath, Fleming, Dravid) will probably turn up if needed.
It is perhaps safe to assume that by and large, the Indian players without international experience, who will probably start getting more opportunities now, will not significantly impact the result of too many games.
For evidence, the most runs made so far by an Indian player who hasn't featured in any (or too many) internationals for India is 88 from 5 innings by Virat Kohli. Next best is Ravindra Jadeja's 70 in 3 innings. Karan Goel's 57 from 4 innings is the highest by someone who has no international experience. The most wickets by an Indian player who hasn't played any internationals is Kamran Khan's 5 wickets from 3 games.
Last season, Yusuf Pathan (having played 1 T20 game for India) and Manpreet Gony were the best among those Indian players who didn't have any (or too much) international experience.
Looking at the list of new entrants (and those who haven't yet played), Mumbai Indians and Deccan Chargers seem best placed since they won't lose people and will have enough quality players available to pick from. Kings XI Punjab will gain the most since their Aussie players will be available and the bowling gets strengthened. Pietersen is an impact player, so even though he has flopped majorly so far, he could have turned it around in a couple of games to get Bangalore Royal Challengers' campaign back on the rails. Bracken is an excellent bowler, but Bangalore's main problem is the batting. Kolkata Knight Riders will suffer since Gayle will leave and assuming Langeveldt/Mortaza aren't drafted into the captaincy committee, that's one less skipper for them.
So now, maybe it isn't too far fetched if I predicted that Mumbai Indians and Deccan Chargers should make it to 2 of the 4 semi-final spots. Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils will in all likelihood make up the remaining 2 semi-finalists. But hang on, that is essentially what the points table is telling us right now
! Like Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr said, "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" (the more things change, the more they stay the same).
Labels: india, indian premier league, ipl 2009, twenty20