Watch: Cricketwallah Ayaz Memon analyses MI's power-packed show against KXIP and other clashes
We are back with another edition of Firstpost Gameplan with eminent sports journalist and commentator Ayaz Memon, dissecting all the action of the week and looking ahead at the matches slated for the weekend.
We are bit over a fortnight into the 10th season of the Indian Premier League (IPL), and as the cricket gets more and more exciting with every passing day, Firstpost is back with another edition of 'Gameplan' with eminent sports journalist and commentator Ayaz Memon, dissecting all the action from the past week and looking ahead at the matches slated for the weekend.
We have had a couple of absolute thrillers starting with Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) versus Delhi Daredevils (DD) and then Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) versus Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH). Manish Pandey kept a cool head under pressure to steer KKR home against Delhi, and SRH staved off Manan Vohra's almighty charge to win against KXIP. The defending champions were well-served by their Afghan recruits Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan.
Also of note was Bhuvneshwar Kumar's inspired bowling in that match, ending up with a five-wicket haul.
KXIP, on the other hand, would have rued not driving home the advantage in that match, and also against Mumbai Indians last evening. They set Mumbai a stiff target on a back of a sublime century by Hashim Amla, but it ended up being walk in the park for Mumbai. Jos Buttler, Parthiv Patel and Nitish Rana blew the Punjab bowling away and completed the near-200-run chase in the 16th over itself. Rana holds the Orange Cap and has been having a dream IPL. "Rana is not just knocking, but thumping on the doors of the selectors for looking at him very closely for the Champions Trophy," avers Memon.
But not just Mumbai, Kolkata are looking pretty strong as well. After a last over finish against Delhi on Tuesday, they come up against Gujarat Lions at the Eden Gardens on Friday. Gujarat Lions, who had put up a creditable performance last season, are looking to be in the dumps this year. "Gujarat seem to have a problem in their bowling. They are missing somebody like Dwayne Bravo very badly" says Memon.
The biggest talking point of the week, however, would have to be the 'Universe Boss' roaring back into form. Chris Gayle smashed the GL bowlers all around the park and set up a fine win for RCB, getting to 10,000 runs in T20 cricket in the process. The Bangalore franchise would also be buoyed by Virat Kohli getting himself back among the runs.
SRH have got a couple of good wins under their belt and would want to continue the momentum against Pune on Saturday. Delhi, on the contrary, have lost against KKR and SRH, and would want desperately to get back to winning ways when they face Mumbai in the second match on Saturday. The day after will witness a high voltage contest between KKR and RCB at the Eden Gardens as well as Gujarat versus Punjab at Rajkot.
While players lost out on significant earnings, the BCCI copped a lot of flak for too much focus on the cash-rich league.
India vs Sri Lanka: Shikhar Dhawan says visitors can try out players Virat Kohli, Ravi Shastri have in mind for T20 World Cup
Dhawan will lead a young squad with six uncapped players in a six-match limited-overs series against Sri Lanka, which is the last opportunity to check out a few players for the available slots for the marquee event in the UAE, starting 17 October.
Looking to get some quality match practice ahead of joining the Indian in Durham on Thursday, Ashwin did more than enough with 58 overs under his belt and a match haul of 7 for 127.