Things are heating up this season with the points table bearing a different look, every time I have a look at it. Barring Delhi Daredevils and Deccan Chargers, who have been consistently perched at their respective ends of the spectrum, the remaining teams have all moved around in the table and haven’t shown signs of settling down.
To be fair to the Deccan Chargers, they have now notched up a couple of wins. Kumar Sangakkara and Cameron White have shown form and Dale Steyn continues to look a threat. If they can get their combination right and probably play Juan Theron as well, they could end up being much more than only party-poopers.
The Pune Warriors have been disappointing in their last four games and take on table-topping aspirants, Kolkata Knight Riders, on Saturday. This has been touted as the game to look out for, with Sourav Ganguly taking field at what has been his home ground for years, before he was forced to turn out for the opponents.
He will have the crowd support and of that, there can be no doubt. However, the big question is whether he can up the ante with the bat in his hands after what was a below-par performance against Mumbai. Chasing 120 should never been difficult, but for a middle-order stutter, and Ganguly’s slow batting did not help.
Michael Clarke is in the side and his decision to play in the IPL emanates from that desire to make a comeback to the shortest format of the game. He made a sparkling 40 on his IPL debut, but was unfortunate to be given out lbw next match.
Kolkata will be no pushovers, not at home anyway. Gautam Gambhir’s form has been exemplary and he has inspired Brendon McCullum into getting a good start last match too. Where Kolkata have struggled is their middle order and it is high time that Pathan gets some of those rasping slogs over long-on going.
The problem for someone like Pathan is that he isn’t getting too many balls to face and I am not sure whether the management has enough confidence to push him up the order either.
I think Kolkata should win this one.
The other game of the evening is between Punjab and Rajasthan at Mohali. Punjab have almost jumped the queue and are currently fourth in the table after it looked at one stage that they were only filling in the numbers.
The resurrection has obviously been brought around by the David Hussey’s batting and captaincy, and Azhar Mahmood’s all-round show. With Mandeep Singh firing all cylinders at the top, Parvinder Awana making the ball zip through at pace and Ryan Harris having joined the side, things look bright for Punjab.
Rajasthan, on the other hand, are on a bit of streak they wouldn’t enjoy. While their batting at the top of the order has functioned well, the middle overs need some acceleration and the bowling needs incision. This should be a tough game though and a difficult one to call!