Monday, April 27, 2009

Deccan Chargers is the team to beat now

Three matches into the Indian Premier League’s second edition, Deccan Chargers have accomplished what they couldn’t in the whole of last year’s campaign - three wins.

If last year they resembled a cluster of super stars terribly presumptuous of their potential, playing as if the whole concept of team-effort was superfluous, they have displayed considerable efficacy and swagger this time around.

So what exactly catalysed this riposte? Not that the whole side was dispensed off and a bunch of motivated players, humble and unassuming ala Royals’ script, have conjured this turnaround.

The fulcrum had been more or less the same, only that all-rounders Shahid Afridi and Andrew Symonds and Darren Lehman as the coach are missing.

The most noticeable change was their redesigned strip.

Their acquisitions this year - West Indians Fidel Edwards and Dwayne Smith - hardly had any bidders in the transfer market. But both have been quite handy so far. Edwards set the tone for their campaign with his unnerving pace, though errant, against Kolkata Knight Riders. Importantly, he has harmonised canny opening salvos with RP Singh, on whose head rests the Purple Cap with eight wickets.

Though deemed extremely talented, RP couldn’t quite cement his place in the national side. Bursts of waywardness coupled with injury had retarded his progress and he subsequently missed the New Zealand tour.

But in South Africa, RP had been disciplined without compromising on his pace.

While his ability to procure seam movement both ways and hit the deck hard had seldom been scrutinised, his improved yorker makes him an even more effective bowler.

So if Edwards doesn’t get you, RP will. That no opening pair has managed to survive the first two overs against them, underscores their worth.

Equally impressive had been their opening batsmen Adam Gilchrist and Herschelle Gibbs, both marauding match-winners. Maybe, only Delhi Daredevils’ Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir can be termed equals in terms of ability, but not experience. While Gilchrist was amongst the runs last year as well, Gibbs striking form has made a world of difference to DC. Last year, he squeezed only 167 runs in nine innings, a tally he certainly seems to overhaul in IPL 2 (already has 114 runs).

Making a discernible difference to his side’s fortunes is left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, who spun them to a 12- run win over Mumbai Indians, considered a pre-tournament favourite. Besides his slight variations in pace, he has been unhesitant to toss the ball, and thereby extracted sufficient turn to trouble batsmen.

While Rohit Sharma seemed to regain silken touch, Dwayne Smith struck a breezy 35 off 22 against Mumbai to underline his value. If VVS Laxman, Ravi Teja and Y Venugopal Rao, can chip in with runs, Chargers can consolidate on their blustery start to the IPL.

[the article was originally published at|qo8JJkxA=&MainSectionID=Aw|qo8JJkxA=&SEO=Fidel+Edwards,+VVS+Laxman,+Dwayne+Smith,+Ravi+Teja&SectionName=||WM0BI9WGM=]

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