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Champions League Semifinals!

October 19, 2009

The business end of the Champions League is here and the poseur teams have been deleted. I’m sorry for those guys but they sucked, choked and slogged across line in the wrong tournament. It all happened in a blur but then, this is not a fcking tea party.

I know I must do something productive like tell you who to pick for the remaining matches but let’s have therapy first and yell at those idiots who’ve turned up only to collect their appearance fees. The number of big name failures in this tournament has been huge, big names which mean high valuations, high valuations which mean compromise in team balance and this compromise which could potentially translate into little or no points.

Deccan Chargers:
They clearly looked under prepared for the Champions League. Most of their players had been out of action for too long and they missed the services of Herschelle Gibbs. Gilchrist, Symonds, Styris, Fidel Edwards, Rohit & Ojha were all equally rusty and their failure to launch cost Deccan heavily as the reigning IPL champions made an embarassing first round exit.

Sussex Sharks:
Sussex found the heat too much to handle and they were unfortunately placed in a very tough group with the Diamond Eagles and New South Wales. Dwayne Smith, Luke Wright & Piyush Chawla could not muster enough to haul the team across as Sussex became the second domestic reigning champion to exit the tournament in the first round itself.

Otago Volts:
The Volts came in boasting of the highest strike rate among all teams having posted atleast 189+ runs  in each of their last 5 T20 matches. A lot was expected of Brendon McCullum who had kicked off the IPL in a spectacular way in 2008 to leave his mark on the Champions League too but he couldn’t do anything of that sort. A line up with international players like Aaron Redmond, Nathan McCullum, Neil Broom, Ian Butler & Dimitri Mascarenhas was expected to proceed much further int he tournament but crashed out with two straight defeats.

Wayamba Elevens:
The only team that went out in the first round with a win, Wayamba have no one but themselves to blame. Mahela Jayawardene, Ajantha Mendis, Jehan Mubarak & Farveez Maharoof played one bad game against Delhi and they were out of the tournament. They regretted their reckless approach later when they had Victoria gasping for qualification to the net round through net run rate.

These were the teams that stumbled at the first hurdle itself. Some teams made it to the super 8s by the skin of their teeth only to lose their teeth altogether due to the pounding they received in the next round.

Diamond Eagles
Very South African-ly, they were choking their way to defeat against the Sussex Sharks in a must win match from a point at which victory seemed certain. But then, very UnSouth African-ly, CJ De Villiers performed a Heimlich maneuver and revived their campaign with an exceptional two ball super over. Their semi final chances looked even better with a comprehensive win against Somerset but it took nothing short of assault and battery by the Trinidad & Tobago side as the Eagles crashed to a 24 run defeat and crashed out of the tournament. They were realy let down by Boeta Dippenaar and Ryan McLaren’s loss of form despite the good work from Riley Roussouw and Morne van Wyk.

Somerset Sabres
Things only went downhill for the Sabres after they pulled off a coup by beating the Deccan Chargers off the last ball of their match. Heavy loses to Trinidad & Tobago, Diamond Eagles and New South Wales and the resurfacing Marcus Trescothick’s stress related illness saw them limp out of the tournament.

None of the specialist batsmen or bowlers managed to click . Kieswetter’s batting never really took off and it was left to Zander de Bruyn and Wesley Durston in the middle order to scrap runs together.  Of the bowlers, Ben Philips played well as did all rounders Peter Trego and Alfonso Thomas.

Royal Challengers Bangalore
The Royal Challengers never seemed to recover from JP Duminy’s assault in the first game. Their passage to the second round was facilitated by the presence of minnows Otago Volts in their draw. They were ravaged by the Victoria Bushrangers in their first match of the Super Eights while the match between Cape Cobras and Victoria resulted in their exit. Not to be beaten by that, they did what any respectable, losing team would do in a dead rubber match: Die hard with a vengeance.
RCB soundly thrashed Delhi Daredevils and eliminated them from the inaugural Champions League as well.

Delhi Daredevils
The Daredevils were hit hard by the unavailability of their overseas signings, de Villiers, Collingwood and Vettori were out with injuries while Warner, McDonald & Maharoof turned out for their home sides. McDonald, who had warmed the Delhi Daredevils Dugout Benches in South Africa earlier this year landed a few blows playing in Victoria colors as Delhi slided to an unexpected defeat. They recovered well enough to beat Wayamba but could not escape the wrath of a Bangalore side eager to prove a point.

The last IPL team to go out of the race, Delhi wouldn’t even have been in this tournament if it weren’t for the diplomacy breakdown between Delhi and Islamabad. Besides Sehwag, Nannes, McGrath, Manhas and Karthik none of the Delhi stars managed any good knocks or spells.

The flip side of all this are the amazing performances put in by the top sides in the Champions League, Victoria, NSW TnT & the Cape Cobras. Read about them in the next post.

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