Who will win the IPL this time?
Well, to say that IPL 2013 has been marred by controversy is a little bit of an understatement. It has truly been rocked by the events of the last week and many of those that are in charge of the lucrative league have been in a bit of a spin since.
These sorts of things seem to happen towards the end of the Indian Premier League for some reason.
I reckon the tournament is a just that little bit too long and takes quite some time to arrive at the crunch which everybody begins to anticipate pretty much after the first sighting of all the teams involved. It might help things to have a couple of games every single day of the tournament but hey, that is a whole other story.
Making it into the final four is always the goal for the teams that participate and many a time, as was the case during this year’s IPL, those that are not going to make it become apparent quite early in proceedings.
Now that the Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians, Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad have made it into the playoff spots, which of them will go all the way?
It is tough to look too much further than the most successful franchise in the short history of the tournament.
The men in yellow have won the tournament twice and have always been there in the final stages of the tournament despite starting slowly each year.
The team is the most consistent in the IPL having won the title twice in succession (2010 and 2011) and reached the playoffs every season.
This time around they have been a little more consistent in terms of results if not actual play on the field and were first to make it to the final stage.
Their captain, MS Dhoni, is a man for the big occasion and with a squad that boasts a lot of all-rounders, they look the side once again to go with in looking for which team to back to go all the way. Michael Hussey, Suresh Raina and Ravichandran Ashwin hold the key.
The Mumbai Super Kings are the box office team with many a big star in their squad but also have been known for bungling in terms of selection where they seem to want to try and will the big names to deliver something even if they are not in good enough form.
This year, the change in personnel early in proceedings allowed them to get into the playoffs courtesy of the lesser stars who were introduced into the playing eleven.
They certainly have the tools to go all the way, but it will be interesting to see how they go when under a lot of pressure on pitches in Delhi and/or Kolkata that will be lower than they have become accustomed to at the Wankhede Stadium this year.
Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard and Pragyan Ojha are the men who need to fire for them.
The Royals have been really good to watch throughout the season and have been inspired by Rahul Dravid at the top of the order.
I am sure that he has been good for many of their young players off the field as well. Shane Watson remains a key figure in the side and his return to bowling has certainly helped along with the likes of James Faulkner and Ajinkya Rahane.
Sadly, I think that the spot-fixing events of the last week, which involved three of their squad members, will have rocked them too much mentally and might derail them at this crucial stage. One never knows though as in times of adversity, troops are often galvanised.
Along with the Royals, the Sunrisers have been unfancied as a side because of a lack of Indian star appeal.
Many of their Indian players fly beneath the radar, so to speak, and therefore do not draw the commotion that the ones in the likes of Mumbai and Chennai do.
It has not deterred the side from performing very well in the tournament. Their games have not been filled with much fanfare as they have been involved in many low scoring affairs and had to scrap to get over the line a few times.
The venues for the playoffs and final might well make Tom Moody and his men smile as they probably will suit them.
The key men for the Sunrisers will be Shikhar Dhawan, who has had a great impact since returning from injury, Parthiv Patel, Dale Steyn and the two leg spinners, Amit Mishra and Karan Sharma.
It is always tough to choose a winner. Who do you have as the finalists? I am going with Chennai Super Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad to meet in Kolkata on the 26th.