The mist is clearing. Mumbai Indians, Delhi Daredevils and Royal Challengers Bangalore have more than a foot in the knockout door. Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals are hard in pursuit. It’s time for hopes to soar and for the losers to pick up the crumbs of consolation.
Only some teams are eminently capable of spoiling the party. Kings XI Punjab might finally have turned the corner. They are the raiders who have found their range. Just the other night, they delivered a gut blow to the Kolkata Knight Riders. The party could be as good as over for Sourav Ganguly’s men. Rajasthan Royals might have done the same to the Deccan Chargers on Monday night.
A few little things can now make or mar a side’s chances. It’s also a time for teams to adapt to away conditions. When each win or loss matters so much, energy and resolve has to be top rate. Travelling takes a lot out of teams and it is this phase that they have to guard against.
Both the semifinals are in Bangalore, which is an advantage to the Royal Challengers but might not be so for other teams. It’s a chance too for teams to run the Mumbai Indians close.
Bench strength would now matter. Teams who can rotate their stars and keep them fresh would have that extra leg working in their favour. Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore are blessed in this area. They are building up a good steam in the home stretch.
Leadership would now matter greatly. It’s not just a coincidence that the three near-certainties have Indians as
captains. Domestic players tend to respond better to homegrown leaders unless it’s a completely new bunch waiting to be shaped — like the Rajasthan Royals in the hands of the mercurial Shane Warne.
Warne might have just woken up from his slumber. Shane Watson’s arrival is just the kind of boost the Royals needed. Only if Shaun Tait can hold himself together, this bunch of giant-slayers can whip up some black magic.
The code of T20 format is now out in the open. Those steeped in the basics of their craft are winners here. Sachin Tendulkar and Jacques Kallis have revised the notion; the likes of Murali Vijay are buttressing the point. Basics matter. Perhaps, just perhaps, you need to be a good Test player to be a T20 specialist!