We are back. With the team round-ups. Arranged in order of the GB-factor. The best comes first. And the worse—we don’t care if they come or not.
Deccan Chargers: In IPL 2008, Deccan Chargers were the Air Deccan of the franchises, finishing at the very bottom and finding it nigh impossible to take off on time. Since then they have gotten their act together and identified their shortcomings.
1. I am sorry. Their pallid uniform from 2008 was just not happening. I do not know about you but the Chargers looked like a bunch of naughty school-boys who had not washed their shirts for a long time. This time however, they have changed their jerseys and as the picture below shows there is an immediate change in attitude. Is this a group of cricketers or the latest boy band (“Out of Sync” or “Bottom of Table” Boys)—I ask you?
2. Their overtly-revealing cheerleaders (mildly NSFW picture here and definitely not safe for work if your place of work is the Swat Valley) Not only was it an affront to our glorious culture, it was something that distracted their star-performer Shahid Afridi from the country formerly known as Pakistan.
According to the great man: “The girls in skimpy dresses should be removed from the ground as this is distracting the batsmen.
“Cricket itself is an entertainment. It does not require such cheerleaders to entertain.
Thus distracted, Afridi kept asking the cheerleaders “You want a piece of this?” (as evidenced by the picture to the left) and forgot how to bat or bowl and even how old he was.
Since then the Deccan chargers have done some introspection and solved the problem.
They have gotten rid of Shahid Afridi, now free to play for Taliban Tornadoes.
In 2009, the Deccan Chargers have several things going for it. For one there is the new coach Darren Lehmann, who called Jayasurya a black [expletive] and Andrew Symonds who hears voices in his head racially abusing him. The synergy between these two could be explosive. Even if that does not happen, what could be more incendiary than the return of Andrew Symonds , the “Norman Bates” of cricket, who like the great “Pyscho” also “goes crazy sometimes”? Will he shoulder-charge Venugopal Rao? Will he go fishing? Will he sing “Thodi si jo pee le hain, chori to naheen ki hain?”
To add to the mix there will be Role Player (RP) Singh, there will be Ravi Teja (Main Teja hoon kyun ki mera naam Teja hai) and there will be Mr. Ojha who can exorcise the demons like no other (Symonds may need him). Finally there will be silken VVS Laxman, the sight of whom in a T20 game trying to blast his way out, is as tragic as seeing Michaelangelo being made to draw panels for Savita bhabi for a fistfull of dollars.
Be ready world. Be ready for the charge of the Deccan chargers.
Bangalore Royal Challengers: These dudes got their jerseys right. They had a great owner Vijay Mallya who symbolizes the arrogance and flamboyance of IPL cricket. They got the Washington Redskins who showed a lot of their red skins. Everything was just perfect. But then somehow it just did not work out.
According to some however where they went wrong was in their squad selection. I disagree. For me some of the most enduring memories of IPL 1.0 will be those of Sunil Joshi somnolently trudging along the boundary like a creaking Ambassador being made to race in the Formula 1 circuit, Wasim Jaffer batting like a massively overclocked 286 processor being made to run at Pentium speeds, Anil Kumble looking as disinterested as a five-year child in a party where Kant is being discussed, Rahul Dravid’s tortured expression as Big Boss metaphorically shakes him by the scruff of his neck and shouts “Paisa diya hain. Abh naach naach naach” and brand ambassador Katrina Kaif’s badly-acted enthusiasm , when it was obvious she had no idea as to what she was cheering for.
Whatever it was that led them to under-perform, this time it has been fixed. There is sexy Pietersen, never a person with any problem with authority, who will take over the reigns from Dravid. And what would be a greater representative for the King of Good Times than roly-poly beer-gutted Jesse Ryder with his well-known problems with alcohol ?
The secret arsenal for the Challengers in 2009 however promises to be freshly-traded Robin Uthappa who, as we can see, is always on the lookout for gaps.
And most importantly for the Challengers, there is no Charu Sharma anywhere. Thank goodness for small mercies.
Kolkata Knight Riders: You heard it here first. Kolkata Knight Riders or Knight Riders as it is now called (whether the name-change due to numerological reasons or whether Mamata Banerjee has also driven it out of Kolkata since it made a profit last year we know not) is going to lift the trophy. Yep.
Now experts have written it off. The bowling is weak. The batting depends on exclusively foreign imports. The coach thirsts for absolute power. There is a grudge or two. Yeah yeah right.
What these experts do not get, is that it is not cricket that is important. As Shahrukh Khan, the “Rab” on earth, put it beautifully while giving that cricket novice Sunil Gavaskar (who had dared suggest that Boka-non was aggrandizing himself and his friends/family at SRK’s expense) a verbal “Aiieeeeee aieeeeeeee Madan Choppraaaa” type lashing with the bloodshot eyes, shaking nose and curling lips that we are fidaa for:
Main ne paisa kharch kiya yaar, bahut passion hai…
Passion of Christ.
Huh. You ain’t seen nothing yet.
In IPL 2008, I felt the passion of the great man when he selected people with names like “Butt” and “Gay”le. While people looked for cricketing logic behind the buys, I applauded the selection of people with names like Hokkaido. And in IPL 2009, the bizarre fascination with beautiful names has continued. There is Latin lover Angelo Matthews (who is a little known player from Sri Lanka and whose first name is surrogate advertisement for the Knight Rider’s cheerleader selection reality show–Knights and Angels), Moses Henriques “Iglesias” (a T20 once-promising player whose career has taken a dive recently) and then the virginal sounding “taaza” peacock —Mor-taaza whose purchase at an obscenely high price has otherwise confounded followers of the game.
And if any proof be needed of the passion driving the man, what could be more sensual than his confession that he will sleep with his men in order to get them to perform?
As the song from Yes Boss, sung by SRK, goes:
Loota doun aaj ispe tan man dhan
Dhan he has given to Buchanan and his family. Mann he has given to the franchise. All he had left was his “tan” and even that he will distribute for a greater cause.
Beat that passion Dr. Shilpa Shetty. And Ms. Priety Zinta. And Dr. Mallaya. Can you do that? You cannot do that.
King’s XI Punjab: Beware the injured lions.
The King’s XI bleeds. There is Brett Lee, who after a split from his wife, has never been the same fire-breathing dragon he used to be with his cricketing performances being compounded by serious injury. There is Yuvraj Singh, the eternal Dev-D, whose heart is perennially broken, so much so that we do not remember why. Shaun Marsh is coming off an injury. Sreesanth is not going to bowl. Jerome Taylor is hurt in a car crash. Irfan Pathan wishes he was injured if only to prevent a possible embarrassment. Piyush Chawla is…what Piyush who?
Of all the players, Mahela and Sangakkara are the fittest. And they are the ones who have been shot at a few weeks before.
However all the lions need is a spark. It could be a kiss from the Zinta. It could be a visit from Nelson Mandela who may have heard of King’s XI Punjab since they were in the news last year because of their event management company’s alleged attempts at racial integration.
And it could be that slice of human kindness as the one showed by the man who gave back the King’s XI Punjab 450,000 rands (rands as in South African currency and not anything else which you may have thought) that the franchise had lost and the gentleman had found.
Whether this will galvanize the King’s XI remains to be seen. But what is more sure is that if the money had been lost, some of the lesser players might be shifted to “humbler accommodations” like they were last time.
Which would surely have boosted the team’s morale.
Rajasthan Royals: Last year’s champions, this is a team which I feel lacks that GB factor. Or at least it used to. I mean what’s so spectacular about a bunch of non-stars gelling together as an unit, fighting many times above their own weight class and emerging victorious. Nothing really.
This time however, the Royals have brought in some of the oomph with Dr. Shilpa Shetty as a co-owner. Though she does not know much about the game except perhaps that there is a ball and a bat, she has confessed to taking “lessons” from Shane Warne.
Yes. I know.
“Here madam is what we call a flipper. That… that is a googly… yes you use the fingers. And this is a move we call the “top spinner”. Now let me show the leg-break.”
While we do not know whether the Royals will be champions this year, what is definite is that the real winner is Mohammed Kaif. Brought to South Africa and then sent home after a practice game, he is assured of his full payment of $675,000 (or what is left of it) without having to play a single game. Aaah the life of an AIG executive and of a benched IPL player—- failure ka phaal meetha hota hain only if you have the right contract.
Mumbai Indians: This team, which weirdly calls itself “Indians” deserves a wag of the finger for accomodating so many “outsider” non-Manoosis. I won’t be surprised to find that Jean Paul Duminy’s sensational performances are due to the blessings of Chatt Maiyya and that Lasith Malinga has a secret career as a hero in Bhojpuri music videos with the screen-name “My Ling-wa”. Where is our man from the “New Construction Sena” when we need him?
Also with respect to the GB factor, this team doesnt have much of it.
While Harbhajan did give it a GB boost last year with the slap that shook the world, this year the Mumbai Indians have gone back to being a colorless band of rather senior, serious performers who many not get it right always but who when they fail, fail colorlessly.
Wait. Did I say they totally lack color?
On second thoughts…. perhaps not. [picture courtesy: Outlook]
Delhi Daredevils and Chennai Superkings:
One word. Boring. Sehwag, Warner, Gambhir, De Villiers. Okay so what? They can score fast. They can consistently make 200 in 20 overs. But can they provide the pristine entertainment of a mid-field clash between Ganguly and Akash Chopra when they both went for the same catch and ended up with Dada glaring the subordinate Chopra down? Similarly Flintoff, Morkel, Dhoni, Hayden, Raina may sound exciting. But can they make us sit up like the way that Kaif did when he mocked Sourav Ganguly during a Royals-KKR game?
I do not have much patience for these kind of teams. They perform like well-oiled machines with superior gunpower making it impossible for us to get “passionate” about them. If I had to choose between these two teams, I would give Chennai a point for having a person called Napolean “Dynamite” Einstein in the team. But that’ s about all the credit I can give it for.
That dear friends concludes the list.
Now let us watch the advertisements.
And the cricket in between.