The Ninth Life

Summers were very different ten years ago in our country. It was a time when kids were excited to go out and play in the sun and vacations hogged the limelight.  That one event has changed the entire concept of a summer is hard to fathom but when we dig deeper into that enigma, we’re bound to stumble upon the intensity of a simple idea. When implemented perfectly, that basic thought has the potential to turn into worldwide phenomenon and in many ways that perfectly sums up what the Indian Premier League has been.

The obvious difference going into this year’s extravaganza is the absence of CSK and RR. CSK have been one of the most consistent and feared sides while on the other hand, RR have relied on exciting young talents to regularly punch above their weights. Though we’ll still see their players turning up for the Gujarat Lions and the Rising Pune Supergiants, their 2 year exile is definitely a huge blow for the fans.

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On the brighter side, the draft picks and the player auction have produced interesting combinations. All the squads including those of the new teams look strong and relatively balanced on paper. RCB have bolstered their side by signing Watson and Binny. The all-round option provided by these two will come in handy for Kohli who will look to lead his side to a first IPL triumph. Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils will look to put last year’s disappointments out of the way and will want to start afresh under their new captains David Miller and Zaheer Khan. Though a grey cloud looms over a few key players of KKR and MI including the likes of Sunil Naraine and Lasith Malinga, they have enough depth in their squads and are always a force to be reckoned with. SRH have never really set the stage on fire and a lot will depend on how David Warner rallies his troops if they are to make it to the play-offs this year. The newbies will want to get into the groove quickly and considering that almost all of them have had a substantial taste of the IPL, it should happen sooner than later.

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One of the best features of the IPL is its ability to find and mold unknown commodities and at the same time be a shot at redemption for some of the overlooked seniors. Ravi Ashwin’s commendable performances for CSK were what catapulted him into the national mix. Uthappa and Nehra have their impressive IPL showings to thank for their return to the international scene. Bumrah, Pandya, Negi, Axar Patel and a number of other youngsters have benefitted immensely from the experience they gained during the IPL. We can expect more of the same trend with the likes of Shreyas Iyer, Vijay Shankar, Deepak Hooda, Barinder Sran and many more ready to express themselves.

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Another heartwarming fact has been how the tournament has evolved over the last decade. Initially, this was all about how hard the batsmen can hit. Now, it’s safe to say that such narrow minded thoughts are well behind us. As always, it ain’t about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, keep conjuring your best as all it takes is one catch, one throw, one cameo or one over to turn the tide completely. But of course, you must be willing to put yourself out there, be willing to take the hit in order to truly rise. Playing in front of huge, vociferous and passionate crowds, the fact that almost every player exudes this trait is what has set the IPL apart and is what will lay the base for all the moments of brilliance over the next 50 days. Welcome to the carnival!

Let the games begin: IPL season 6

The kind of fervency that cricket fans exhibit for the IPL matches is indeed unmistakable. IPL starts tomorrow and goes till May 26th. Some address the IPL as a Cricket Carnival and on some level this is true, with Bollywood stars owning teams and star studded opening ceremonies the entertainment quotient of the IPL is quite high. Last year saw Katy Perry and this year Shah Rukh Khan promises an even better opening ceremony with the international rapper Pitbull. Just ahead of the season we bring you an overview of the teams that will be competing.

Chennai Super Kings (CSK)

CSK has been performing quite consistently in the past years and has been one of the most successful IPL teams. The controversy around Sri Lankan players had lot of other IPL franchise hinting that CSK will have an unfair advantage. Nonetheless, CSK has a very strong and balanced side and will start as favorites for the trophy.

Captain: MS Dhoni

Key Overseas Players: Michael Hussey, Faf du Plessis

Key Indian Players: R Ashwin, Suresh Raina, Murali Vijay

 Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR)

KKR is the defending champion and owned by Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan. KKR had a bad start in the first few editions of IPL but is now a considerably improved team. They are one of the most balanced sides and will be a key contender for the title this year as well. Leading this dynamic team is Gautham Gambhir batting alongside Jacques Kallis and maverick Brendon McCullum in the top order. The Knight Riders have a huge advantage over other teams, with a variety in their bowling led by West Indian mystery spinner Sunil Narine, former Australian spearhead Brett Lee and Laxmipathy Balaji.

Captain: Gautam Gambhir

Key Overseas Players: Jacques Kallis, Brendon McCullum, Bret Lee

Key Indian Players: L Balaji, Yusuf Pathan, Manoj Tiwary

The 2012 champions:Kolkata Knight Riders
The 2012 champions:Kolkata Knight Riders

Pune Warriors (PW)

PW came into IPL in 2010 and is a relatively newer team. They would be hoping for a better result this season considering their big spending in the auction. Michael Clarke’s injury and his subsequent withdrawal has been a big for them. Our brand ambassador, Yuvraj Singh, will be the key player and much of their performance this year will depend on his form.

Captain: Angelo Matthews

Key Overseas Players: Ajantha Mendis, Ross Taylor, Steven Smith

Key Indian Players: Yuvraj Singh, Robin Uthappa, Bhuvneshwar Kumar

Delhi Daredevils (DD)

DD is the strongest IPL team on paper, specially, their batting line-up. They have not been able to play to their potential in the previous editions but would be hoping to turn around their fortune this year. The withdrawal of Kevin Pietersen and Jesse Ryder has not been great news for them to start with. Much will depend on the form of David Warner and Virender Sehwag.

Captain: Mahela Jayawardane

Key Overseas Players: David Warner, Morne Morkel, Johan Botha

Key Indian Players: Umesh Yadav, Unmukt Chand, Irfan Pathan

Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB)

RCB has been one of the stronger teams of IPL in the last few years. They have been runner up twice and would be hoping to lift the trophy this year. They also have been one of the bigger spenders in the auctions. With the likes of Chris Gayle, AB de Villers & T Dilshan, they have a very explosive batting line-up but bowling would be an area of concern for them this season.

Captain: Virat Kohli

Key Overseas Players: Chris Gayle, AB de Villers, Daniel Vettori , T Dilshan

Key Indian Players: Cheteshwar Pujara, Zaheer Khan, Vinay Kumar

Royal Challengers captained by Virat Kohli.
Royal Challengers captained by Virat Kohli.

Rajasthan Royals (RR)

RR had a fairy tale run in the inaugural season but has not accomplished anything significant after that. Traditionally, they have been frugal spenders in the auction and believe in building a strong team unit instead of depending on few stars. Their fortunes will depend on the form of Rahul Dravid and Shane Watson.

Captain: Rahul Dravid

Key Overseas Players: Shane Watson, Brad Hodge, Fidel Edwards

Key Indian Players: Ajinkya Rahane, S Sreesanth

Mumbai Indians (MI)

MI offers a mouth watering prospect of watching Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar bat together. MI hasn’t been able to perform up to their potential thus far but would be looking to clinch the title this year.

Captain: Ricky Ponting

Key Overseas Players: L Malinga, Kieron Pollard, Jacob Oram

Key Indian Players: Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh, Ambati Rayudu

King XI Punjab (KXIP)

KXIP has not tasted much success in IPL so far except their semi-final berth in the 2008 edition. This franchise is known to give more opportunities to young domestic players and would like to see better performance from them.

Captain: Adam Gilchrist

Key Overseas Players: Shaun Marsh, Azhar Mahmood, David Hussey

Key Indian Players: Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh, Ambati Rayudu

 Sunrisers Hyderabad (SH)

SH will be replacing the Deccan Chargers. The core of the side remains the same from the Deccan Chargers outfit. SH has very good overseas players on-board and would like to display a better performance this year.

Captain: Kumar Sangakkara

Key Overseas Players: Dale Steyn, JP Duminy, Cameron White

Key Indian Players: Shikhar Dhawan, Amit Mishra, Parthiv Patel

To check the schedule for the matches till the 26th of May click here

Do you have any predictions of who will win the 6th IPL? Share your thoughts on this with us.

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What the fortninght brings in sports events.

We bring you a gist of some of the prominent sporting events that are going to take place in the next two weeks. Whether you’re a cricket fan who can’t wait for the ILP season to start, or a tennis buff who is eagerly looking forward to Nadal’s performance on the clay court here is something that will interest you all.

One of the most anticipated cricket tournaments will be starting next week. The IPL matches are going to start on April 4th and with 76 matches in all, if you can’t make it a stadium to watch it live there is always Youtube. They will be resuming the live streaming of all the matches after renewing its partnership with Time Internet. Unfortunately, there have been some controversies and mishaps which have resulted in some key players not participating this year. Jesse Ryder the Delhi Daredevils player on Wednesday was assaulted during a night-out in New Zealand, that left him with a fractured skull. Ryder was rushed to a hospital where he is in an induced coma. This is the second player that the Delhi Daredevils have lost, after Kevin Pietersen, who was ruled out of IPL over an old knee injury. In addition to this Micheal Clark, Shikhar Dhawan and Pujara will most likely not been seen on the field. With the ongoing Sri Lankan Tamils issue, 10 matches which were supposed to be held in Chennai will be shifted to other locations. Despite all this the excitement and fervency of cricket fans across the country has not waned.

IPL starts on April 3rd.
IPL starts on April 3rd.

With Nadal off the courts in the Sony Open and his appearance in only two tournaments this year, tennis fans can look forward to an dynamic game from the Spaniard in the next couple of weeks. The U.S Men’s Clay Court Championship will be starting on the 8th followed by the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. The king of clay is all set to live up to his title in these tournaments. Djokovic did not play too well in the Sony Open and it would be interesting to see if he has a different strategy in these tournaments. In both these tournaments some of the top players will not be seen. You can read more about it here.

The golf world has one of the most important tournaments starting on April 8th. The Masters is one of the four major championships in men’s professional golf.  Tiger Woods has won this title 4 times before and he seems to be the favourite this year also. If Tiger Woods wins this it will be his fourth win in two months. Rory McIlroy is still trying to find a swing that he will be able to trust and repeat for the Masters. McIlroy is more concerned about the path of his swing rather than his ranking for now.

Tiger Woods has a good chance of winning the Masters title.
Tiger Woods has a good chance of winning the Masters title.

What will the fortnight be without some high speed action! The Chinese GP race weekend starts on April 12th in Shanghai. The Malaysian GP had an air of controversy about it, with Vettel disobeying team orders. Not only is the course remarkable for its change of acceleration and deceleration within different winding turns, making high demands on the driver as well as the car, but also for its high-speed straights. One can’t really predict how the race is going to play out, but we can be guaranteed that it is going to be an adrenaline rush packed race.

We hope that this gives you a fair idea of what the sporting world brings your way in the coming fortnight. For all your sports and fitness requirements, do log on www.sports365.in and shop with us!