The fourth edition of the IPL is just a few days old, and it is too early for any trend or pattern to emerge. Suffice to say with new teams, new players and different combinations, the tournament has started off on an exciting note.
What every team wants is a victory or two upfront to settle the combination and the stake-holders’ nerves. If teams, especially the new ones, lose a couple of matches early, the conviction levels within the group can go down very quickly.
And that is not a healthy space to be in.
Honestly, Twenty20 is not so much about what names you possess in your ranks but who does well on the given day. At the most, performances will fluctuate 10-15 percent, and it’s that swing that makes the difference between victory and defeat.
Watching Sunday’s match between Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils in Delhi, the one thing that struck me was the maturity of the crowd. For perhaps the first time in India, a crowd has seen Sachin as an opponent, and that is the ultimate evidence that the concept of city-based franchises is beginning to make an impact.
The silence was deafening when Sachin scored a spectacular direct hit to run Sehwag out. The crowd’s acceptance of Sachin as an opponent and of Sehwag as their own shone through. Such is Sachin’s stature that wherever he goes, he is forever the star.
But even when he was playing his strokes and shoring up Mumbai’s chase, I got the feeling the appreciation from the crowd was not whole-hearted. It wasn’t because they didn’t enjoy Sachin’s batting; it’s just that they realised Sachin was hurting their team, and that is what I mean by the sense of maturity from the crowd.
The Kolkata crowd is one of the most emotional in the country, and they must rally behind their team now. KKR must pull up their socks, and immediately. They have all the ammunition, a brave captain in Gambhir, a destroyer in Yusuf Pathan, a good bowling attack.
What is important, however, is that they must start piecing together a few wins.
Even though the personnel are different, sometimes sentimentality can creep into a team. For three years now they have struggled, and as a team they are probably lacking self-belief.
They lost a match they should have won against the Chennai Super Kings, and it’s very important for them to deliver. Throughout their travails, one man has stood steadfastly by them, and I think it’s essential they turn things around, at least for Shah Rukh Khan.
It was a good win for the Royal Challengers the other night. Till the end, there wasn’t much to choose between the teams. But after the win, RCB will be a different side altogether.
As I said, it’s too early to say which teams are the favourites. Consistency will be the key. HAWKEYE