Monday, April 20, 2009

Durban's sumptuous IPL buffet

While all the glitz, glamour and the razzmatazz may have been reserved for Sahara Park Newlands at the weekend for the official opening of the 2009 edition of the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL), South Africa's version of Mumbai-Durban - is eagerly awaiting its turn as the action switches to Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on Tuesday.

It's going to be sizzling and very entertaining (even though rain is forecast) according to Cassim Docrat, chief executive of KwaZulu-Natal Cricket, whose venue is being used by the megabuck-loaded Board of Control for Cricket in India for a competition that has turned the cricket world upside down and inside out.

The purists may be squirming and spewing because Twenty20 cricket has taken over the limelight from what had first been traditionally reserved for Test cricket, then the one-day 50-overs game.

But they were the same people who despised the 50-overs game when it hit the scene, thanks to the Kerry Packer circus in the early days.

Now they will need to take it in their stride because the Twenty20 format is here to stay and the officials of the IPL will be dishing out entertainment that has rarely been seen in the world of cricket.

"It's going to be magic," Docrat said. "While the entertainment side of the circus is a key element - it's important because it creates the hype - the cricket is the main part of the whole exercise. All I can say is that one has to be there to enjoy it and soak up what the IPL stands for."

The Kings XI Punjab meet the Kolkata Knight Riders at 12.30pm followed by the defending champions Rajasthan Royals and the Mumbai Indians at 4.30pm. Yuvraj Singh was the man who blasted England's Stuart Broad for six sixes in one over, while posting an unbeaten 58 off just 14 balls at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead in the 2007 ICC World Twenty20.

Also in the Kings XI Punjab are Kumar Sangakkara, an exciting and very polished Twenty20 batsman, Ravi Bopara, the England star who has excelled in the short format lately, and Nashua Dolphins Yusuf Abdulla, who signed a contract just recently and will be a great help in the local conditions for the Punjab outfit

Then there's Sourav Ganguly, who may have retired from the international scene but is still a larger-than-life role player in the Kolkata Knight Riders outfit which also includes Brendon McCullum, bought for $700 000 in the auction in 2008 and who smashed a sizzling 158 not out in the opening game at the 100 000 packed Eden Gardens last year.

West Indian Chris Gale, who on his day can be devastating once he gets into the mood, Australian David Hussey, who excels in this form of the game, and South Africa's "swinging" specialist, Charl Langeveldt.

The Mumbai Indians come along with Sanath Jayasuriya who smashed the most sixes last year - 31 in total and had a strike rate of 121.82 in the inaugural tournament, plus the world's batting legend, Sachin Tendulkar, left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh, who returns after being banned last year for slapping Sri Shreeshanth of the Kings XI Punjab - all from the rejuvenated Indian national squad.

The other internationals in their side are the rising star JP Duminy, who was bought for almost $1-million in the 2009 auction, Sri Lanka's Dilhara Fernando, Lasith Malinga, West Indian Dwayne Bravo, Kyle Mills of New Zealand and Bangladesh's Muhammad Ashraful.

The defending champions, Rajasthan Royals, may not have the best outfit of all, but their leader - Shane Warne, the former Australian star - has made the mediocre squad believe in themselves and his way of captaining the team has worked wonders.

The players to look forward to are Yusuf Pathan, an all-rounder of class, Tyron Henderson, who comes into the squad at a hefty R675 000 price tag, Dimitri Mascarenhas of England, India's Munaf Patel, Justin Langer of Australia, South African captain Graeme Smith, and the man who surprised all with his inspirational performances, Siddharth Trivedi.

The Kings XI Punjab v Kolkata Knight Riders and the Rajasthan Royals v Mumbai Indians matches are just for starters, but the Sahara Stadium Kingsmead buffet for the remainder of the week is spectacularly sumptuous.

On Thursday, the Chennai Super Kings, runner-up last year, arrive with South Africa's Albie Morkel, the flavour of the month in limited overs cricket, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Andrew Flintoff, Matthew Hayden, Muttiah Muralitharan, Suresh Raina and Michael Hussey.

Their opponents, Delhi Daredevils move into Durban with the star cast which includes Virender Sehwag, Paul Collingwood and Gautam Gambhir, who reigned supreme in New Zealand for India in the Test and One-Day International arena. And on Friday the man whom everyone in South Africa loves to hate, Kevin Pietersen, arrives with the Bangalore Royal Challenge and will be in toe with the likes of Jacques Kallis, Dale Steyn, Mark Boucher, Roelof van der Merwe - all South Africans - and Rahul Dravid, Praveen Kumar and the exciting Virat Kholi.

[The article was published at by Iqbal Khan]

No comments:

Post a Comment