Clash of the Presidencies
So we are back to that time of the year, when every Indian comfortably puts away his patriotism and wildly cheers for his state. It is probably the only time you will see a Bengali hoping that Brett Lee uproots Sachin Tendulkar’s off stump in the very first over. Come down south, and the Tamilians will be hoping that Albie Morkel does the same. The Maharashtrians of course, preserve their loyalty for the Little Master!
The fixtures couldn’t have been better – A Chennai-Mumbai encounter first up with Chennai being the battlefield. The home team went into the match as favourites, having won all their home matches in the previous edition. But that was about all they could achieve. Mumbai Indians trumped the Chennai Super Kings by eight wickets. The Mumbai Indians justified the selection of their new signings – Pragyan Ojha and Richard Levi. Ojha was the first to make an impact, fetching the wickets of Raina and Bravo within his first two overs. These wickets were followed by a batting collapse which saw Chennai being bundled all out for a mere 112. The target was always going to be easy. But Richard Levi made it easier. He smashed a 50 of just 35 balls leaving the wicket at 69 in less than 8 overs.
While the new signing proved worthy for Mumbai Indians, it was the opposite for the Chennai Super Kings. Ravindra Jadeja scored 3 runs with the bat and gave away 16 runs in his only over – an effort that certainly does not live upto the mark of $2 million.
The next encounter saw Delhi and Kolkata face off in a game reduced to 12 overs. Nothing can excite an ardent cricket fan more than watching Sehwag, McCullum, Finch and the Pathan Brothers in a 12 over game. Kolkata, as usual, received a larger-than-required hype for this encounter. Every year they come up with a new logo, a new jersey or a new dance move for SRK. But less has been done to prove their worth on the field. A batting collapse saw them lose 6 wickets in the first 6 overs. They trotted on to a total of 97 in their quota of 12 overs.
Delhi didn’t need a ‘dashing innings’ from Sehwag to finish things. He didn’t come up with one either. But just when the Knight Riders earned themselves 2 wickets and brought themselves back into the contest, Irfan Pathan took everything back. He smashed 3 sixes on his way to 42 from just 20 deliveries. Deservedly, he took the Man of the Match award.
The first couple of days have brought India’s presidency cities to battle it out amongst themselves. Chennai and Kolkata went into the matches as favourites but that is all they will have to savour for now. Mumbai take on Pune tonight in what should be a relatively easier test for them. Punjab and Rajasthan will also open up their campaign in a clash at Jaipur. The IPL fever is well on its way…..