Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The RACE to the Top - IPL Semi Finalists

It took 41 days and 56 matches for the IPL to reach the business end of the tournament.

It seems long but its flown by.

One key reason why the 41 days didn't seem that long was because the Final Four was only decided on the 39th & 40th day.

This kept the interest in the IPL alive, unlike the ICC World Cups of 2003 and 2007.

The RACE to the Final Four has ended and now the RACE to the top begins.

There's one thing common about the Final Four - The Aussie connection.

Rajasthan Royals - captained and coached by Shane Warne, key player is Shane Watson.

Kings XI Punjab - coached by Tom Moody, key players are Shaun Marsh & Luke Pomersbach.

Delhi Daredevils - coached by Greg Shipperd, who Uncle J will tell you is the best 20-20 coach in the world. Glenn McGrath is their key bowler.

Chennai Super Kings - Hayden & Hussey left long time ago but their coach is Kepler Wessels, former Aussie opener.

Semi Final 1 (Friday, 30th May): Rajasthan Royals vs Delhi Daredevils

The Daredevils is one of the only 2 teams who have beaten Shane Warne's Royals in the IPL (they have a match left against Kings XI tonight). That was the Royals' first match and they haven't looked back since then.

Shane Warne has turned the team into an invincible unit and the Royals' victory march has paraded on.

They are the only team who have won all their 7 games at home, and one of the only 2 teams who have won 6 games on the trot. They can make that 7 tonight.

The Daredevils on the other hand started off with a bang winning their first few matches without breaking a sweat. But then they fumbled a bit. A solitary point in a washed out game allowed their entry into the semis.

They started the tournament as one of the strongest sides but didn't look it as the tournament went on.

The 1st semi has all the ingredients to be a gruelling affair.

It pits 2 of the leading run scorers in the IPL - Gambhir & Sehwag - against 2 of the leading wicket takers - Sohail Tanvir & Shane Warne.

Its a battle between 2 retired Aussie legends - Glenn McGrath & Shane Warne.

Its a battle between 2 Victorians - Greg Shipperd & Shane Warne.

Tanvir, the leading wicket taker, will bowl the first over to Gambhir, the leading run scorer. Remember Tanvir's flying kiss to Gambhir?

Their league games stand at 1-1 so there's nothing to chose between the 2.

I sense the Daredevils will come out on top. The Royals' party will come to an end, as it does with most weak teams on paper who do extremely well in the league stages of a tournament.

Whose your pick?

Semi Final 2 (Saturday, 31st May): Kings XI Punjab vs Chennai Super Kings

Dhoni's Super Kings have had the upper hand over Yuvraj's Kings XI in both the league games.

The first loss was one of Kings XI's first 2 losses, after which Priety Zinta's hugs started doing the tricks and all the Kings' men won game after game.

They go into this game as the 2nd best team in the league stages.

They have the best bowling attack in the tournament with Sreesanth, Pathan, and Chawla all featuring in the top 10 wicket takers.

The emergence of Shaun Marsh and the return of Kumar Sangakkara makes their batting look unstoppable. Add Yuvraj, Jayawardene, and Luke Pomersbach to that and it looks quite invincible.

The Super Kings began their campaign strongly but then lost a few after Hayden & Hussey left the ranks. They picked up again but have relied too heavily on Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni.

The 2nd semi also dishes out exciting contests:

MS Dhoni, the Indian captain takes on Yuvraj Singh, the Indian Vice Captain. Only one will go forward.

Murali takes on his captain and vice captain - Jayawardene & Sangakkara.
Ntini bowls well at left handers and here he will get as many as 4 in the top 6.

India's leading pacers - Sreesanth & Pathan will try and stop their international captain from hitting the straps as Sanga keeps wicket to them.

The Super Kings will do extremely well to stop Kings XI from going forward.

The Kings just look too strong and they're backed by Priety Zinta's warm hugs and the numerous incentives that she has promised the players like cars and gifts and so on.

Whose your pick?

The final on Sunday to me looks like an all Northern clash between Delhi & Mohali!

Make your pitch on this post...

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