The IPL circus is on the road, accompanied by loud noise and aggressive promotion. After the first fortnight the excitement is yet to pick up, teams and players are just about feeling their way assessing options and the opposition and like boxers do, waiting for an opening to strike the killer punch.
The sluggish start, with half empty stadiums at some venues, is a bit surprising considering some action has been spectacularly riveting. The IPL has had a super over and a last ball finish, and other games that suddenly turned on their heads.
20-20 by nature is democratic and open and Hyderabad's early surge, and Delhi's slide, confirms that IPL 6 will be more unpredictable than in the past. Thus far, some major teams have struggled and less fancied ones have got over the line. But the IPL stretches on for 6 weeks, picture abhi baaki hai, during this period form changes, so do the fortunes of teams.
Experience shows that ultimately the big teams prevail, ones who have bench strength and good Indian talent. On a given day of inspiration or good luck Kings / Royals / Sunrisers will stun a more fancied team, that is how T20 goes. But all these teams have to be at the top of their games each time to win, they know that with limited quality at their disposal anything less won't do.
For the big boys, such is the quality of the squad that even a subpar performance can be good enough. These teams have serious talent in their ranks to stay ahead of the competition.
The emerging trends , based on available evidence, indicate a massive thumbs down to ageing veterans . Rahul Dravid is currently leading the Royals march but his senior Indian colleagues - Sachin, Zaheer, Nehra, Munaf, Irfan, Sehwag, Harbhajan, Yuvraj - have had no impact on the tournament till now. Is this a matter of age dulling reflexes, or an indication of lack of fitness/commitment/focus that T20 demands. It is difficult to pronounce a clear verdict but the growing feeling is this format is unforgiving, does not respect reputations.
The Aussie senior brigade, so dominant till yesterday, is also feeling the heat. Brett Lee has his nose above the water, just about, but Ponting, Gilchrist, Shaun Tait and the Husseys have all struggled.
That aging stars have a lesser say is understandable but one major disappointment has been the failure of young Indian talent to make an impact. Unmukt Chand blew the opportunities he got, his under 19 teammates are not even on the starting team sheets of franchisees. Manan Vohra and Vihara have had their moments but nothing has surfaced in terms of raw talent that would make you take notice. The steep decline of past performers ( Yusuf Pathan, Sourabh Tewary, Naman Ojha, Paul Valthathy, Swapnil Asnodkar ) is another sad saga.
As the IPL enters the third week, and summer comes in full force, the wickets will get slower and spinners will expectantly play a larger role. In these conditions, unlikely teams will cross 200 and Sunil Narine, Amit Mishra, Jadeja should ask questions of the batters.