Finally India has its own club sport game on an international level…worth talking about. Sure we have had football for scores of years, but I bet you can’t name one foreign player (make that three for Bengalis, Goan and Mallus). And No, Baichung Bhutia and Sunil Chettri are not foreigners.
Anyway I digress. IPL has caught everyones imagination. Anyone can rattle off their favourite team’s combinations as well as dole out dollops of punditry on its fortunes.
Sounds familiar? For any football fan it should. That’s pretty much what every fan of the EPL talks about the whole year long. So I thought I would attempt at drawing parallels between the teams in the IPL and the EPL.
Chennai Super Kings, or CSK, go through the round robin stages without much fanfare but yet, somehow manage to end up at the top of the heap at the end of the season, season after season. And that damn Manchester United does the same thing. Eerily, both teams have a core that is unchanged for quite some time now consisting of one or two stars along with a handful of when-the-bloody-hell-did-he-start-playing-so-well type of players. An ex-CSK player, Fleming, becomes the new coach and maybe the same for United –Giggs or Scholes is your call. And their fans are almost the same – arrogant, boastful, ‘whistle podu’ people who walk around at the end of the season with that I-told-you-we-would-win look.
Ambani is like Abramovich. Well at least both are filthy rich and their names start with A and own we-can-but-we-wont-win teams. Like Chelsea, Mumbai Indians start off the season with a bang and flatter to deceive with startling consistency. Both sides arguably boast teams that have the right-man-for-the-right-job-in-the-right-place – a scenario so perfect that it leaves them also awestruck at times. And then they are the proud owners of the tag of most expansive waste of money ever -- Keiron Pollard and Fernando Torres.
Kolkata Knight Riders are the perfect copy of Arsenal, where the team owner/manager outshines the team consistently through the season – a battle where I think Wenger wins by a nose. Their fans perhaps have the best technical knowledge which is good considering they have to argue their case every year for their eternal problem of why-our-team-messed-up-yet-again-so-close-to-the-finish. While KKR managed to rid themselves of Dada, Arsenal are still weighed down by the dadagiri of Fabregas.
Royal Challengers Bangalore, like Liverpool, is the forever challengers. They have one central player around whom the team keeps changing – Gerrard, also known as Kohli in namma Bangalooru. And then they make the buy of the season … that one player who spins their fortunes around singlehandedly. Yet sadly since the buy was in the middle of the season, it turns out to be too-little-too-late by the ever-smiling Suarez/Gayle. And just as King Kenny keeps inspiring the team, King Kumble does the same in his managerial role.
Rajasthan Royals are like Everton, forever punching above their weight and punching damn hard and true while they are about it. They both wear blue and while Everton don’t have a flamboyant player/coach like Warne, only their fans know what David Moyes has inspired an average team to achieve consistently for almost a decade.
Delhi Daredevils of the season past were one heck of a maverick team boasting some of the stars of world cricket – Sehwag, Warner, Dilshan, DeVillers, Gambhir, McGrath, Vettori – and all came to naught. Manchester City someone? Despite the likes of Boateng, Kompany, Lescott, Silva, de Jong, Toure, Balotelli, they continuously rely through the season on just one man … Tevez. Daredevils anyone? Sehwag is still around now, while the others are gone but in the coming season it may be the reverse for City – the rest of the team will be there, but their talisman may not. The pyrotechnics of one man can run a show for only so long!
Deccan Chargers can never be faulted for a lack of effort. They have a team full of almost-stars or waiting-to-break-out type stars. Each year they strive very hard to be counted among the cream of the league, but they never quite make it. Very reminiscent of Tottenham Hotspurs. Maybe something in the name --- Spurs … Chargers --- both sound like they are destined for a Sisyphus-type future. At times, their games are superb and a Luka Modric or an Amit Mishra lit up matches with consistently excellent performances. Still, after all is said and done…not quite there yet.
Kings XI Punjab and Aston Villa. You know they are teams with potential and yet you never quite expect them to trouble the top teams much. But they seems to be great places where someone hones their talent – Stewart Downing or Paul Valthaty - and then wait to get snapped up by the bigger teams. And they have the one big name move in the season. Interestingly both Adam Gilchrist and Darren Bent are former players of Chargers and Spurs.
Blackburn Rovers … Venky’s … Sahara Pune Warriors … more chicken, less warrior … roasted this season … enough said!
Kochi Tuskers Kerela ... I’m at a loss here. First I thought of matching them up with a sheikh owned team given it’s a Mallu team and all. Then I thought of equating them with a ragamuffin, discards team, but then they gave a damn good account of themselves. I would say they are scrappers who know how to put up a more-than-decent fight and on that account I would liken them to Sunderland. And then you have the foul-mouthed characters like Lee “Sreesanth” Cattermole – one minor difference being that I don’t see anyone getting away with slapping Lee.