Saturday, March 13, 2010

IPL Predictions - part 3

As we write the final part in this prediction series, we humbly note that at least two of our earlier predictions has come true -- Sehwag made a characteristic 8(6) in the match against Punjab, and Sreesanth did take his wicket, although sitting in US we couldn't see if Sreesanth ran a half-marathon victory lap or not.

Now without further delay, our final two teams are:

Bangalore Royal Challengers (RC)

New Motto: Now with jerseys redder than our faces when we lose the final

At the time of writing, RC have yet to play a game, and so we can still speculate who the captain is going to be. Since Mr Skunk Hairdo is still playing in Bangladesh, RC's megalomaniac owner has no choice but to give the captaincy once and for all to Kumble. Since the Kiwis are playing against Australia right now, it means that Mr Beer Belly aka Jesse Ryder, and Mr I-don't-play-any-off-side-shots Ross Taylor are out for at least a few weeks. Thus it is the South Africans that RC must trust, after all they provide four members of the squad.

It is our prediction that without Taylor and Pieterson, RC will find it difficult to make do with the antics of Roelef Van der Merwe and Uthappa. We expect them to lose more than half their league matches in the first three weeks. This will be followed by a slight revival on the return of Taylor (maybe winning three consecutive matches), only to find out that it is almost too late, which will lead Kumble to adopt his familiar angry constipated look. In the last few crunch matches, RC will raise their game however, make the final four, and will probably beat Delhi Daredevils (who are just dying to lose in the semis) to reach the final against KKR. An hour before the final, we expect Kumble to give a stirring LOTR pre-war speech to his wards.

"Men inside the bewdaas, I see in your eyes the fear of Shane Bond that will take the heart of me! A day will come when we will play on to our stumps, but it is not this day! A day might come when we all fall to Mendis, when even Agarkar gets a wicket, but it is not this day! I say, this we fight! This day we SLOG SWEEP!"

The story of the final has been told elsewhere, but we expect Kumble to take at least 3 wickets, including that of Dada (trapped in front). At the presentation ceremony, Kumble, as the losing captain, will make a solemn speech -- "Only one team played in the spirit of the game, and it was not us" before correcting himself 2 seconds later.

Prediction: 2
Reaction: Megalomaniac eating his red RC cap for the second consecutive year.

Rajasthan Royals

Let's face it. RR are a completely unpredictable bunch, and we saw that in the match against Mumbai, where they almost made it after making reservations in the parade of the losers.
So what is it going to be this year? It is tempting to say they will be in the bottom two, because that is the only position remaining in our predictometer, but let's try to justify, shall we?

First, is it just us, or is Shane Warne fatter than even his usual chubby standards? When he runs in the infield, he looks like a sloth bear gently ambling onto the nearest tree in search for shade.
But let us not go by the looks, for he is still sharp as a tack. Instead, let us look at the changes. They do not have Watson or Tanvir (or Mr Butterfingers aka Kamran Akmal for that matter). On the plus side, they only have the formidable presence of Pathan and the equally formidable absence of Kaif. Some might argue that Asnodkar will find it easy to play in the Indian pitches with his 4' 3" frame (discounting his second ball run-out yesterday), but we find him over-rated, like Kamran Khan and Ravindra Jadeja (also absent). Shaun Tait will not matter much on these pitches, but Damien Martyn will, sadly he will not get to play much.

All in all, if Yusuf and Smith fail, RR will be reduced to becoming everybody's favorite whipping boy. We don't expect to see Shilpa and Shamita Shetty jumping up and down in the stands very often this year. Consequently we arrive at the inevitable conclusion.

Prediction: 7 or 8
Reaction: Shane Warne nonchalantly drinking beer and playing poker with the crowd at deep extra cover, and Yusuf Pathan making his usual angry monkey faces (except against Deccan for obvious reasons) after every loss.

Monday, March 08, 2010

IPL Predictions (part 2)

We present the second part in the three part series on IPL predictions. Part 1 is here.

Kings XI Punjab

New Motto: IPL? 1 million dollars. Champions League? 2.5 million. A hug from Preity? Priceless.

Behind every successful man, there is a woman. Behind a successful team is also a woman, preferably beautiful and giving out hugs to select players after victories. KXIP's run in this IPL, while not truly platinum, will still be golden. That is, if you can call losing in the semis golden. Well, the Delhi Daredevils call it golden, so golden it is. Our trust in KXIP's golden patch is well founded because of several strong reasons, not many of which have to do anything with cricket.

First, Preity is no longer in a relationship. This means she will be giving out proper hugs to the entire team, without incurring the wrath of Ness Wadia. As any Indian male will tell you, a hug can work wonders, especially with babies like Sreesanth on board. As a backup, those who do not get hugs will get one from VRV Singh, for obvious non-veg reasons that we refuse to discuss. Secondly, in their opening match against Delhi, Sreesanth will clean bowl Sehwag, and in celebration will run three victory laps and a 2-mile run outside the stadium, while IPL shows ads. This will leave him with no energy to play the rest of the tournament, which means a better bowler will take his place. Third, Sangakkara will replace Yuvraj as a captain, freeing the latter to play his natural game or picking his nose at backward point without the fear of camera zoom-ins. Corollary: Sangakkara will not be able to pick his nose.

These positive developments can only mean one thing.

Prediction: 3 or 4
Reaction: Preity jumping up and down in the dug-out will finally cause a cave in, and the Mohali ground will become as sloped as Lord's.

Deccan Chargers

New Motto: Yo Afridi! Now we too play home games away from home.

Let's face it, Chargers are the new Pakistan. Well not exactly, for they were not the victims of terrorism or bombings. Just some true blue Hyderabadis, who ensured that Gilchrist won't be able to play in the batsman-friendly Hyderabad stadium. Instead they will play in Nagpur and another city whose name rhymes with buttock (yes, we find it funny). While we don't know if this will lead to butt-clenchingly tight matches or a loose flow of runs, we do know that Gilchrist won't give a damn. One opposition bowler will be picked at random (last year it was Nannes), and he will carted for 5 or 6 boundaries in his first over, thereby completing the proof that T20 is definitely not a bowler's game. Last year, seasoned career bowlers like Yuvraj Singh and Rohit Sharma had bowled hat-tricks. This time our money is on young Harmeet Singh, whose express pace of 128ks will distress all and sundry on Indian pitches. Also, replacing Fidel Edwards will be Kemar Roach, a bowler whose name makes the batsman instinctively reach out for Baygon spray, losing their wicket in the process. RP Singh will keep things balanced by providing his usual 4-0-48-0 at the other end. However, overruling them all will be the mercenary Symonds, who will continue exploiting cricket grounds smaller than Mumbai apartments. Watch out Kolkata! you got competition.

Prediction: Runner up by a small margin. After all, Bond. Shane Bond.
Reaction: Wayne Parnell of Delhi will announce his retirement after being pounded for 6 fours in his opening over against Gilchrist. Also, VVS Laxman will manage to show genuine happiness inspite of not playing a single match.

Chennai Super Kings

New Motto: The team of brothers and bosoms.

The motto is obviously derived from the most puke-inducing statement of the year,viz Matthew Hayden's proclamation -- "I have been welcomed into the bosom of India as a brother". We predict that Dhoni will continue to inspire his team with honest statements like "Our bowling was quite short of the mark", "Our bowling needs to improve drastically in the next game", "We cannot afford to field like this in the finals" and so on. As a result, CSK will continue to deliver gems like this.

We now digress and make two statements about CSK that have nothing to do with predictions. First, we think that watching Hayden and Parthiv Patel strolling out to bat is the funniest possible sight in IPL. They look like Goliath and David, like a lion and a (dwarf) gazelle, like Morgoth and Pippin, like a kangaroo and its prematurely born baby. Parthiv's desperate attempts at growing a moustache makes it funnier. Second, we believe that Sivaramanahasapeemapetilon, or whoever is the CSK drummer, is highly overrated who should be made to listen to his own 'music' (if you can call it that). If wearing a bandana and showing 'passion' was enough, I would be giving Bono a run for his money.

Coming back to predictions, everyone knows that Super Kings rely on just three players --- Hayden, Raina and Murali. It is our conviction that since Hayden will be busy exploring India's bosom and what not, it will be up to Raina and Dhoni to score quickly. Since Dhoni's pilot license is still pending, he will not be allowed to play his favorite helicopter shot, thereby curtailing his array of shots to just one -- the unsightly scoop over short fine leg. Realizing this, Dhoni will promote Kemp and Albie Morkel to do the hitting, who will be as lost on Indian pitches as a kid in a topless bar (hat tip: Sidhu). So we don't expect to see anything great coming out of CSK this year, except the occassional victory here and a fielding gem there.

Prediction: 5 or 6
Reaction: "Our goddamn bowlers and SOB fielders really need to improve dammit! I am serious!" - Dhoni.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

IPL Predictions (part 1)

We work in Machine Learning down here in our secret labs, and by we I obviously mean me and my alter ego. Before you say "Machine Whaaaa?", let me say that my job is to make 'intelligent' predictions. Since the IPL is near, this can only mean one thing.

We break our self-imposed blog exile by posting a series of predictions about the IPL rankings this year. Anyone using these predictions for betting or gambling better give me 10% of the winnings.

We begin with part one.


a) Delhi Daredevils:

New Motto: "Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Hurray for the bridesmaid!"

DD's game plan is to perform really well in the league stage. This leaves them with no mojo for the semi-finals, where they inevitably lose big time. Having perfected the fine art of finishing 3rd or 4th, my predictometer says that the result this year will not be any different. We predict that DD will be carried by the awesome trio, i.e. Warner, AB, and Dilshan, while Sehwag provides consistent scores of the form 4(3) and 8(4). Let us not forget Gambhir, who will probably pitch in with gritty knocks of 7(12) and 15(14). We expect to see plenty of first over dismissals when DD is batting.

In the bowling department, Nannes will again have a golden patch (except the semis, ouch!), and Nehra will provide support in fits and starts with figures like 4-0-32-1. Again, Vettori and Dilshan will lead the spin attack, with Mishra busy mis-fielding at mid-on. New boy Parnell will not be used heavily as all four foreign slots will have huge contenders. Consequently Pradip Sangwan will tell his grand-children that he kept Parnell on the bench. Paul Collingwood and Moises Henriques will be utilized to do what they do best -- fetching water and towels.

Prediction : 3 or 4
Reaction: Hurray! We get to play in the Champions League!

b) Mumbai Indians:

New Motto: "Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, one match at a time".

MI have lost so many matches in the last over that one wonders if Nita Ambani has any of her manicured nails left. This hurts them a lot as they always succeed in finishing a comfortable 5th or 6th (Hey! it is better than 8th, they say). However things might change as Mukesh Ambani has sold off his house to pay for Kieron Pollard in the latest auction. If Pollard displays his famed hitting skills even twice, Mumbai may threaten to break into the top-4. But we know MI very well, don't we?

We predict that Jayasuriya will finally succumb to his age, thus nullifying the Pollard factor, and Sachin will play the "Tendulkar card", whereby the entire Indians team will collapse after he gets out. In the middle order, Duminy will fall first ball LBW to
every spinner, mistaking him for Bhajji. Thus, even Mishra from Delhi will get his wicket. Therefore, the only Mumbai Indian who can erroneously propel the team into the top-4 is Abhishek Nayar. If MI play their cards right, they will have to ensure that he gets out before that. Maybe Dwayne Bravo or Bhajji can run him out.

As an aside, in the two matches against Rajasthan Royals, old-timers will have a mini-orgasm after seeing a sum total of five balls that Warne bowls to Sachin (at least one of which will be hit inside out over extra cover). We also predict that this time Bhajji will slap Brett Lee by mistake, and then walk with a pelvic plaster cast after that.

Prediction: 5 or 6
Reaction: Either "Sachin: the ball was coming onto the bat" or "At least it is better than finishing last."

c) Kolkata Knight Riders:

New Motto: "Is baar to karbo larbo jeetbo re $@#$@#!"

Ah! the KKR, how we love them and hate them. All that we remember from KKR @ IPL 2009 is Dada's glowering and sulking face. But this time to udi baba re! they are in for a solid surprise. The captaincy will revert to Dada, and with the dictatorship restored, things will run much more smoothly. The line up will be "Gayle, Dada, Hodge, Hussey, unmentionables, equally unmentionable Agarkar,...,Bond". Gayle will again enjoy the lifeless pitches in India, making scores like 48(31) and 66(39), while Dada will be the perfect foil with scores like 4(13) and 22(35), with an average opening partnership of 55 runs. As before, Hodge and Hussey will win matches for KKR (if any). So what is the difference then? Well, there are three.

One -- the alert reader might notice the absence of McCullum, the ex-captain. While the official reason will be that he is busy playing against Australia, Dada will secretly celebrate at not having to deal with his old-flame. A happy captain always inspires. Given that Dada can neither bat nor bowl and definitely not field in T20, it is imperative that he at least remains positive. Two -- Bond, Shane Bond. He will single handedly give KKR two wickets per match, with figures like 4-0-18-2. Care must be taken that his figures are not nullified by Agarkar, or Kaan Moolo as he is better known these days. Three -- the law of the underdogs. In the long history of IPL, one has seen that the supposed underdogs always perform the best.
Rajasthan did it first, and Deccan/Bangalore did it next. Well last year, KKR were not even the underdogs, they were the fleas on the underdogs. Inevitably, they will perform HUGE this year.
Together, these three immutable laws can mean only one thing.

Prediction: WINNER! (Yes, holy sh**, even I can't believe what I predict!)
Reaction: My name is Khan and I am finally a goddamn IPL winner!

(Subsequent parts to be posted later)