Last-ball thriller an ideal start to IPL 2021, writes Sunil Gavaskar
This year's competition could not have got to a better start than it did in Chennai’s MAC stadium .
The rcb, boys won off the last ball off the match and the defending champions Mumbai began yet another campaign with a loss. Harshal Patel’s brilliant mix of slower deliveries with the spot on yorkers ensured that Mumbai’s big-hitting finishers weren’t allowed to smash it around as they usually do.
Still 160 is never an easy score to overhaul as the Bangalore boys found out and it was left to the ingenuity of AB de Villiers to take them home. There were gains for both teams as apart from Patel’s magnificent comeback to the Bangalore team there was the fine debut by Kyle Jamieson. For Mumbai too debutant Marco Jensen was impressive and sharing the same dug out with Trent Boult he can only get better as the tournament goes on.
The Hyderabad and Kolkata teams begin their campaign playing each other with the Hyderabad boys having the confidence of once again qualifying for the playoffs last season. They didn’t tinker with their team too much at the mini auction and there’s a settled look about their squad.
With the best T20 spinner Rashid Khan in their ranks they are able to choke the opposition in the middle overs. Khan also takes wickets thereby pushing the batting team’s attacking plans in disarray. Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s return to fitness only increases the Hyderabad team’s chances as they now have two world class bowlers to trouble the best of batsmen. If T. Natarajan can bowl the way he did last season, then Hyderabad will be a tough team to score off. Their batting is pretty settled too with a fabulous opening pair of skipper David Warner and Jonny Bairstow and with the classy Kane Williamson and innovative Manish Pandey following it is a team that’s worth walking miles to see.
Kolkata began last season with question marks about the captaincy for though Dinesh Karthik was their captain the previous year to the acquisition of the World Cup winning captain Eoin Morgan meant that the writing was on the wall for everyone to see. Karthik read it after a few matches where he himself hadn’t done well and so stepped down. Not that the fortunes changed immediately for the Kolkattans as it's never easy for the players to adjust to a leadership change midway through a competition. This year though much will depend on the starts they get while batting. Sunil Narine’s step away and smash method has been found out by most teams who will pepper him with short deliveries and so Morgan and Andre Russell will be the key to the late thrust that can propel their total.
The bowling looks better with Pat Cummins, Lockie Ferguson and the young Indian trio of Prasidh Krishna, Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti. The mystery of Varun Chakravarthy hasn’t been found yet by the batsmen and if Narine can bowl half as well as he did before the remodelled action then they have a good attack too.
Well begun is half done goes the popular saying so both will be looking to start this campaign with a win.
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