Mahendra Singh Dhoni was in Mumbai on Friday for the opening ceremony of IPL-III. However, he did not stick around to see how Deccan Chargers lost the plot in the last few overs of their chase to go down to Kolkata Knight Riders.
Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings will be happy to know that it is a stuttering Deccan Chargers line-up that will face them at the Chepauk on Sunday and not the marauding one that was on display in the initial overs of the opener.
The two teams from the south have their similarities. Both are batting heavy, literally, boasting of men such as Matthew Hayden, Dhoni and Justin Kemp for the Super Kings. Herschelle Gibbs and Andrew Symonds are the Chargers’ heavyweights. Many of these guys won’t look out of place in a boxing ring.
Both teams are light on the bowling front. The Chargers are missing West Indian Kemar Roach and Australian Ryan Harris because of their international commitments. Super Kings failed to capture Roach and Shane Bond in the IPL auction and are, therefore, minus a frontline bowler.
But there are differences too. Super Kings are led by the Indian captain. Under him, the national team has taken enormous strides. That, however, has not been the case in the shortest format since that epoch-making win in the World T20 in 2007. That victory paved the way for the subsequent successful launch of IPL. At the Chargers’ helm is an Australian, Adam Gilchrist, who never got to captain his country on a regular basis but has turned out to be an inspirational leader in IPL.
And while the Super Kings are the most consistent team in IPL, making the final and the semifinals in the first two editions, the Chargers have been like a yo-yo — rock bottom one year and champion the next. They can be very good, or very ugly, and sometime both in the same match.
It is a battle between the consistent and the mavericks.
Meanwhile, the teams could not practice at the Chepauk on Saturday because the area was cordoned off for PM Manmohan Singh’s visit to inaugurate a new secretariat in the afternoon.