Scintillating knocks from Virender Sehwag, Kevin Pietersen, Shikhar Dhawan and Shaun Marsh, sweet cameos from Michael Clarke, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis and Jesse Ryder, incisive bursts from Zaheer Khan and James Pattinson – all quintessential Twenty20 ingredients.
Gladly for Mumbai Indians, Lasith Malinga is back in action, after missing the first two games.
That is exactly the kind of fizz that has been missing from the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League.
While some of these exciting cricketers, currently out injured, could put their wares on display later in the high-profile competition, a few, like Pietersen, Clarke, Ryder, Marsh, Duminy and Pattinson, have already been deemed unavailable for the season.
Having sat through intense auction proceedings and having splurged mind-boggling sums on getting the desired players, the last thing any team owner wants is for the stars – supposed to lead them to glory – to remain on the sidelines.
Though it is a matter hardly in the think-tank’s hands, it hurts, and badly at that. Just ask Delhi Daredevils. Three of the world’s most destructive T20 batsmen – Sehwag, Pietersen and Ryder – are missing from their line-up and DD failed to register a point in the first three matches.
Sunrisers Hyderabad would have been absolutely delighted when their star opener Shikhar Dhawan smashed his way to a sensational 187 off just 174 balls to become the fastest Test centurion on debut against Australia. Alas, his injured finger has meant that the latest IPL franchise is struggling to get off the blocks with any sense of authority. And as skipper Kumar Sangakkara struggles to hold the team together, he must sorely be missing another left-hander in the middle order – Duminy.
Pune Warriors India are without their captain – Australian Michael Clarke, and missed out on Yuvraj Singh in the last match. They too promptly lost both their matches.
King’s XI Punjab got through their first match against Pune Warriors’ with surprising ease but the dynamism of the sweet-striking Marsh could have bridged the gulf in their batting in the battles to come.
The star-studded Mumbai Indians, heavy in batting, must be relieved to have their ‘sling master’ Malinga back in the scheme of things, for sterner tests lie ahead in the search for their first ever title.
As explosive as their batting is on paper, Royal Challengers Bangalore top order is yet to fire in unison. Hence, Zaheer can only be a welcome addition even as the ebullient R Vinay Kumar leads a spirited attack.