Go Gujarat & Delhi Darkhorses

dhoni-raina-m.jpgThe IPL is back and this season it seems better than ever. With the top players already starring, new teams and new young players this is getting good. The most impressive side so far are Gujarat Lions, while I also have a great liking for the way Delhi Daredevils have improved this season.

For years on end it was said that Suresh Raina was being protected by MS Dhoni, being one of his guys that always played if he did. This season has shown that Raina has come out of the shadow of his national skipper and the result has been fantastic to watch. Showing strong leadership on the field, making important fielding decisions. It is clear to see that Raina is an intelligent cricketer. Not saying that he will ever be India’s captain but its nice to see a guy proving people wrong.

His side on the field can only be an asset to his captaincy, having McCullum, Finch, Faulkner, Dwane Smith and Bravo in his side its hard to see a weakness in the batting or fielding. It will be very interesting to see if GL can continue the form throughout the rest of the tournament.

The other new boys Rising Pune Supergiants led by MS Dhoni, have struggled. It is a surprise to me that they have struggled so badly when we look through the team line up. Kevin Pietersen is a miss for them though.

The dark horses for me have to be Delhi, after a poor start they have come back really well. The batting is well marshalled by Quinten De Kock, who for me is only just behind Virat Kholi and Joe Root in terms of ability. Any team that has Andre Russell will be one of the favourites in a T20 competition. I think he has won every other big competition this year.

My predictions: 

Final: GL v DD – With DD winning it this year. (Long, long way to go)

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Chennai ALMOST perfect

Dhoni CSK IPL
From the very first IPL the Super Kings have been a dominant force, they were runners up in year 1. Once again CSK stands out above all the other sides.  They have not won the IPL every year but have always been close to the final stages.  There are a few reasons why this:

1. MS Dhoni – They have the best captain in world cricket. There has not been many captains like Dhoni in the past and probably won’t be an Indian captain as good as him for a long time. He backs his players and knows when to make huge decisions. The best thing about Dhoni is that he usually performs when others fail. What will CSK do when he retires?

2. Balanced Squad – From the beginning CSK seem to have known what works in T20. They have identified player types that they need in the side and kept to it, whilst others keep chopping and changing playing styles. The simple formula they use is to have two aggressive openers, Raina at 3. An out and out batsman then Dhoni followed by 3 allrounders and then a few handy bowlers. They had Hayden, who got replaced by Hussey, who then got replaced by McCullum. Not bad is that. They also retain the most players, they have built up a squad type of atmosphere, where most key players are the same every season.

3. Raina – He has not missed an IPL match yet in all the seasons. He is Dhoni’s right hand man but he is also the best number three batsman that you could have in T20 cricket which is played in India. He destroys most bowling attacks and is the all time leading run scorer in IPL. He is pretty crucial to CSK’s success, although I do not agree with him being the vice captain.

4. Fielding – Raina, Jadeja, McCullum, Bravo, Du Plessis, Smith are the star names in this department. As a group they are definitely the best fielding unit (sorry Mumbai, CSK are better). This saves them in tight matches, the saying is that catches win matches. Well in T20 cricket good fielding wins matches.

All these reasons are why CSK are almost the perfect T20 team. They have the best batting line up, best fielding and a good bowling attack. The reason is say they are nearly perfect is that the bowling can sometimes be found out, especially if Ashwin is injured. Mohait Sharma is good but I sometimes worry for Nehra and Bravo. Jadeja has been a bit off form too. CSK are still winning matches easily so this is not really a big problem currently. It was nice to see two young Indian bowlers given a chance, More and Negi given a chance.

What I suggest CSK may have to do is take out Dwayne Smith from opening and either replace him with a an Indian opener of a similar fashion, this would mean they can next season get in a world class international strike bowler. I suggest the side would be complete if they managed to prize Morne Morkel or Stein to the side. The other option for this season is to push Du Plessis back into opening and play either Irfan Pathan or Rahul Sharma. This would give them that extra bowler for balance. It could be something that makes them PERFECT.

Who Will Win IPL 2015?

Who Will Win IPL 2015?

Love it or hate it the IPL is one of the most exciting cricket competitions. It always brings to light potential young stars of Indian cricket as well as future world stars. What I love most is the team spirit of those players who last month hated each other. As always it is hard to call a winner. Please vote below as who you would like to win and write a comment explaining why you want this team.

IPL 2014: Delhi Daredevils axe their whole squad

IPL 2014 Delhi Daredevils

The big news from the Delhi Daredevils today was that they will not be retaining any player from their IPL 6 side. This news is a little surprising because they have some of the worlds best players in their squad. The axing of these players could backfire, as they could perform for any other side. World stars such as Sehwag, Pietersen, Warner, Morkel and Jayawardene will all be up for auction, as long as they want to be apart of the upcoming tournament. This decision probably will end the concept of the Galactico’s (famously used by Real Madrid).

Topping the group stage two seasons ago, the Delhi fans had very high expectations for last season. The lacklustre performances have forced Delhi’s hand. It is unsure if they will bother to bid for any of their players in the auction, but these will all now be on the open market.

If I were in charge of the franchise I personally would have unleashed some of the younger players complimenting David Warner, Mourne Morkel, Johan Botha and Kevin Pietersen as the foreign players. These are players who will instantly be snapped up by any side in the IPL. Morkel has been one of the leading bowlers in the IPl, over the last few years. He is up there with Malinga and Narine. Youngsters such as Manpreet Junaja and Unmakt Chand deserve another chance with the franchise.

The success of Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings can be attributed directly to having a very settled side. Once Delhi get in their players this auction they should look to retain as many of these for the future. It will be very interesting to see what players the franchise wish to pursue at the auction, I predict that they will go for players such as Yuvraj Singh, Steve Smith and George Bailey.