Early trends emerging at IPL6
IPL 6 is in its early stages but already some teams have put a peg in the ground. My old team Chennai looks very strong again. What a thrill for Chris Morris to be part of a very experienced Chennai outfit – and he's started the tournament well.
Morris has made giant strides from the time he started out tentatively at North West about three seasons ago, earning a small allowance in the semi-professional system in South Africa. Through hard work and consistent performances he progressed to the Lions and then the South African T20 team. I can imagine that dismissing the in-form Chris Gayle during the match against the Royal Challengers would be a career highlight for him so far. His participation in the event is a plus for South Africa as well. Morris will be gaining experience with every outing which in the long run will benefit him and South Africa.
The other team on fire at the moment is the Mumbai Indians. They have for many years been the underachievers of the IPL. They have started this year's tournament in sensational fashion, losing their first match by only a whisker, then winning their next three with some ease. They have a number of match winners in their ranks and at present they have found a formula that is working for them. They are under pressure to win the tournament and I will be surprised if they don't come close this year. Early form suggests that they, along with Chennai, are favoured to go through to the final stages of the tournament.
The Hyderabad Sunrisers have been a surprise package. They used to be the Deccan Chargers, but through a change of ownership, they have developed a different structure which so far has enabled them to win three matches from four. The challenge for them will be to sustain this winning form. I have a feeling that this won't be that easy for them to achieve. Good news for them is that Dale Steyn is on the charge. He has experienced mixed fortunes in this tournament in the past, but so far this year, he has bowled with control and aggression, and has been a real threat. This is good news for South Africa, bearing in mind all the limited-overs cricket that lies ahead over the next few months.
Apart from Morris and Steyn, the other South African players have been relatively quiet. Jacques Kallis hasn't hit his straps yet for Kolkata Knight Riders. Kallis has been inactive for some time, so it will take him a while to adjust to the pace of the game. AB de Villiers was in great form during the domestic summer but he has also been relatively quiet for the the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
So far the two teams who have really struggled are the Delhi Daredevils and the Pune Warriors. Ironically both are coached by South Africans – Eric Simons and Allan Donald respectively. They will certainly be feeling the pressure. The owners in these tournaments are demanding and neither Simons nor Donald will be enjoying the experience right now. Both of them have strong squads with big-name players, some of whom are not easy to handle. The situation will be testing their resolve. Anyone who has worked in the IPL as a coach would be happy not to be in their shoes.