T20 is entertainment

  Twenty-20, or T20 as it is called in cricket lingo, started off mesmerizing the whole world after the IPL season and definitely is meeting its objective of more inclusion from all rungs of the society.  It is equivalent of baseball played in USA from a time format perspective and started getting more followers in women (wives, daughters, mothers) and many 9 to 5 professionals who started unwinding over a T20 game in the evening, either at home or in the stadium.  I have been following this game for the past 10 years or so, and am a self-professed addict and I would like share what I experience – great cricket players may concur with some but not with all, but thought I would express what I have observed till date:

  • T20 is all about entertainment.  It is more batters friendly and bowlers unfriendly. People have come to see lots of sixes and fours, and this is what they enjoy and this is what they usually get.   Spectators come to see certain players and to support their team and have fun.
  • T20 game is mostly a factor of the pitch on that day, the weather conditions (rain or heat), Dew factor, size of the ground, and above all, how the player feels about himself on that particular outing.
  • T20 is about being a Glenn McGrath type of bowler.   Bowling a tight line and length and not wavering is critical. If you are able to do this consistently, the batters get annoyed and start committing unforced errors. A pacer with more yorkers, especially during the death overs, is the one that wins the battle (Ex. Malinga).
  • T20 has made fielding gain importance in all three formats now. The amount of runs saved by good fielding can be anywhere between 5 and 20 and this can make a difference between a win and a loss. Amazing catches and run outs do happen in T20, and they are worth to watch and do make a big difference in momentum of the game.  An agile fielding unit is an asset to any team.
  • SPIN saw a resurgence in all formats with T20.  There were several Doubting Thomases’ that thought spin would be useless in T20 format but everyone has got this wrong.   In fact, more times you see pacers getting hit than spinners in T20 and it is not unusual nowadays to see spin opening the attack in both the limited overs format
  • Again, AGE is not a factor in T20 surprisingly.  You can see lots of late thirties players playing some great cricket and enjoying their T20 game, even after their retirement from the other two formats.
  • A low scoring game that is usually run-a-ball or lesser can turn out to be pretty exciting as I have observed the chase to be tough as well. It was a low-scoring game for a reason and most likely the conditions are good for bowling.  The pitch is offering some bounce or swing or is madly spinning.
  • At the same time, a huge scoring game of 200+ runs can also be tricky.  Again, the chasing team usually comes close and many a times even win. The turning point in chasing a huge total was that epic 430 run chase by South Africa against Australia in a 50 over match that turned the tables in both the limited over formats.  The logic is simple – if the team batting first hits 200+, so can the team batting second.  The pitch is all batting friendly and nothing at all for the bowlers.  Most of these high scoring matches happen at smaller grounds.
  • During the Powerplay overs – the first six, if the team managed to hit fifty for the loss of no or one wicket (at 8 runs an over), they are placed well to hit a decent score to defend or chase– usually in the 170-190 range.  During these 6 overs, the conditions are totally batters friendly and rarely bowling friendly unless the pitch is doing something for them. A 170 plus score is usually a respectable score to defend under any condition.
  • During the middle overs of 7 to 14, if the team averages 6+ runs, and they have not lost more than couple of wickets, again, they are placed for a respectful score of 170 to 180 runs. The bowlers need to do their best in these overs to contain the batters and not allow them to settle.
  • If the team has managed to score 100 for the loss of 2 or 3 wickets in 13 overs, they are usually placed to hit 160 to 180 runs overall.   What the team hits in the first 12 overs for the loss of 2 or 3 wickets, it is safe to say they can hit the same score in the last 8 overs provided they don’t lose too many wickets.
  • It is not the death overs of 19th or 20th over that gets smashed around, but rather the overs 16 to 18.  So, one need to use their best bowlers for these three overs.  These three overs usually is the difference between win and loss. If you need to hit 27 runs or so in the last three overs or 18 runs in the last two overs or 10 runs in the last over, it is usually the chaser’s advantage as they can achieve it if they are even down 5 or 6 wickets. The tail (position 9 to 11) can wag and give support if needed.
  • A team with batting strength till position 9 can have a great outing almost always.
  • The so called finishers do have the ability to hit 10 to 12 runs an over on an average during the last five overs.  More the merrier. These are usually the batters who come between positions 5 and 7.
  • If the game becomes one sided at any given point, the spectators both at home and in the stadium do not show that much interest. It is important though in T20 to come close to any score while chasing and never give up the fight – winning and losing is secondary.  This is still obviously seen if any test team plays a minnow or an associated team, although I see lots of improvement in many of these teams in the past 3-4 years.
  • As in all formats, as long as you hold on to wickets, you can hit a respectable score.  Wickets are key, and if they keep falling at regular intervals, then only a sub-par score is in the offing.
  • Finally , it is not about prior statistics or records – one any given day, provided both teams have a good strength and no injuries to main players, any of the top 8 test playing teams can win over the other team in a T20. It is more predictable in Tests and limited overs but not in T20 which makes it more exciting.   If it is a rain affected match with shorter overs to play than 20, definitely it is anybody’s game.

IPL6 –figures behind the action -Compilation on May 2013

Overall statistics:

  • Pepsi ATOM MVP is more favorable to a bowler or a bowling all-rounder and in fact less favorable to a pure batsman. How else can you explain an Irfan Pathan, Umesh Yadav, Awana or a Praveen Kumar placed well the likes of Raina, Dhoni or a Rohit!  None of these bowlers seem to have any match winning performances but the above batters did many a times!  Praveen does not even have a 3-wicket haul this time. We need a good metric that combines good batting with good averages, consistency and strike rates, along with catches and run outs effected, and with bowling figures with economy rates and strike rates as part of the equation, add to whether their performance lead to a match winning performance which is key. I have come close to it by starting in some direction but it needs a lot of data and man power and automation to get this done.
  • Once the MVP or the new metrics are in place, we must go back and do a report card against each player for what he was paid and what he has contributed to clearly show the huge discrepancies in most of the cases.
  • The Champions trophy team representing India may not be a bad one given that all the 15 players are in the top 100 in the MVP list – credit must be to the batsmen because their points are harder to make it to the MVP list. Even that apart, I strongly feel Irfan Pathan must have made way for Stuart Binny unless BCCI wants to fill that minority quota! And given the form Murali Vijay is in, I would rather take Cheteshwar Pujara who is more technically sound and is out of the injury and can even open.
  • The probable list though is something worrisome as none of the players in that, except for Praveen Kumar perhaps, are worth even to be considered – their performance does not warrant them to be there as other players can make a bigger difference. I would say Mohit instead of Shami, Rahane instead of Gambhir, Parthiv instead of Ambati, Mandeep instead of Tiwary and P Ojha instead of Rahul Sharma as a spinner backup.
  • Age has been the most determining factor in choosing the team as India may be eying the next World cup couple of years down the road and building a team for the same.  But present is present and we need to send the best team to win any day, irrespective of age as long as recent performance backs it up.
  • Encouraging people who have come to the news for all the wrong reasons like Rahul Sharma and Praveen Kumar for drugs and violence respectively, is not appreciated. In fact, we must be tough on these and ensure discipline and behavior is maintained well.
  • It would be a wasted player if the top three batsmen do not consistently perform and frequently do big scores – couple of fifties through the season for these three players’ calls for a replacement at the top.  By not being to do big scores, the later batsmen who have little time to settle are under lots of pressure.  On the other hand, if they have a nice platform, they can build on it.
  • Just checking the KXIP bowling: Both Praveen and Piyush do not even have any 3-wicket haul this time and their salary is $800K and $900K, I guess. What a waste. On the same team, this new comer Sandeep Sharma has taken 3-wickets twice in four matches he has played, and that too away from Mohali – would not a medium pacer like him do better in Mohali if he plays a full season????
  • 3 out of the four teams that qualified for IPL6 semifinals have Indian captains – only Hyderabad has either Sangakkara or White.  By the same token, out of the bottom 4 teams, only one had an Indian captain – Gambhir for KKR, the other being KXIP, DD and PWI.  So, it is fair to conclude that an Indian captain is a better bet for leading IPL teams – I cannot reason it out, but still it makes sense.
  • Fair play award usually sets the tone for the team and speaks a lot about their leadership – captain and the coach. Chennai has won it three times so far and they are the leaders this year, and Rajasthan and Punjab have won it once so far. If you look at this year, unfortunately, not only Delhi and Kolkata play well, they did not play fair as well as they are the two teams at the bottom of the fair play award table.  Although no correlation exists between fair play and qualifying, the spirit of the game is important and we need to remember the Game is bigger than any individual and their ego and anger!
  • Home advantage seems to be a beneficial thing for most teams as the win record at home is 70.83% – 51 games won vs. 21 lost, out of a total of 72.  Mumbai and Rajasthan have won all home games, and Bangalore and Hyderabad have won all except one.  Pune and Delhi are the ones who do not seem to take advantage of the home crowd to pull a win and they have the worst record here.
  • When teams bat first, Win – loss ratio is 34:37 and when teams chase, they have Win-Loss ratio to be 38:35 overall – somewhat equal chance of win and loss in either case. Some teams are better batting first like Mumbai and Chennai, and some teams are better chasing like Rajasthan and Hyderabad. Delhi is the only team that has highly inverted ratio leading to a loss in either case.  Chennai is the only team that has more wins than losses, either batting first or chasing – seems to me that they do not bother much as to where they are playing as they do not have a clean record in either scenarios. Chennai and Mumbai have had good success in the top order to post big scores to defend by batting first, although the quality of bowling of Chennai, esp. at death, is lower than Mumbai’s.
  • All – rounders are the ones best suited for the limited format versions of the game.  India’s success with the World cup in 1983 was due to the fact that it had lots of good and utility all-rounders in Mohinder Amarnath, Madan Lal, Roger Binny and lead by Kapil Dev.  In this IPL6, we see teams what have good all-rounders winning matches – SRH with Perera and Sammy, RR with Shane Watson, MI with Pollard and to a little extent CSK with Jadeja and KXIP with Azhar M.   The inverse inference is also applicable as when these all-rounders to not perform, the teams perish with them:  PWI with Yuvraj and Angelo, KKR with Kallis and Yusuf, and DD with Irfan Pathan. In a sense, an all-rounder does not need to excel in both bat and bowl in the same game, but can be a good batter who can bowl, or a good bowler who can bat, and in all the cases, he would be the person counted upon to finish the game.

Some National Team analysis:

     WI Team and individual performances:  After their recent success winning the T20 World cup, their team members seem to be in fine knick in the sub-continent and have played a significant role in each of the IPL teams.  CSK has Bravo an all-rounder and Holder, a budding young fast bowler.   RCB has a dangerous mature opener in Chris Gayle and a good opening wicket taking bowler in Ravi Rampaul (they did not play Chris Barnwell at all). Darren Sammy had been a great all-rounder for SRH. Pune had Marlon Samuels who has to return early in this IPL due to injury. Mumbai has Keiron Pollard, a massive finisher and Dwayne Smith who can also open well in this format, and both are good at the field and can help in bowling.  RR had the leggie Samuel Badree who played only couple of matches, the fast bowler Fidel Edwards who did not play this season and Keron Cooper who seems to be a good death bowler with his medium pace.  KXIP never had a West Indian player in its role this year.  DD had a decent all-rounder in Andre Russell who played early in the season.  And Of course, KKR had the clever spinner in Sunil Narine.  Overall this IPL may have belonged to West Indians as they have taken a lot of credit in each game that has been played and have players who have had live practices in the shorter format of the game. They would be a great force to reckon with in Champions Trophy although the conditions in England would be totally different and I hope they adjust fast and well.  With their long list of all-rounders, they stand to gain a lot under Bravo’s captaincy; he being with Dhoni for 6 years would go a long way in honing his leadership skills. With Gayle and Smith to open, Marlon to come as one-down, Ravi Rampaul and Fidel Edwards to open their attack, Narine to give that spin option , with Sammy and Pollard to finish the innings in the middle , and Keron to do the death overs, this is going to be interesting.

   Looking at the other side of the coin, this has been a bad season for all Sri Lankan players except for T Perera(good all round performance) and S Senanayake (9 wickets from 8 matches) perhaps, and of course the consistent-at-death bowler Malinga.  The flop show list includes Dilshan, Muralitharan, Sangakarra, Jayawardhene, Angelo Mathews, Ajanta Mendis, Janith Perera and Jeevan Mendis.  This is of concern to the Sri Lankan team esp. at the point that Jayawardhene, Sangakarra and Dilshan are just having a few more months or year to retirement, and certainly looking like well beyond their peak in their shorter format performance.

IPL Teams Analysis:

Chennai Super Kings (CSK):  They have won the toss 7 times – 3 at Home (twice batted and one fielded first) and 4 Away (twice each batted and fielded), chose to bat 4 times and field 3 times.  All the 6 full games they won and they lost the last game which was shrunk to 8 overs. So, if they win the toss, it is fair to conclude they would win, except for a rain affect shortened game.    And they have the best AWAY win records (with 62.5% which is a big asset).

  • They never had any 4 wicket haul at all by any bowler, and generally the bowlers were expensive, esp. at the death.  Ashwin although economical, is not the strike bowler he used to be and not fully utilized either by Dhoni.
  • They have the best fielding unit with 11 run outs to their credit.
  • Hussey, Raina and Dhoni were the big scorers here and Vijay is yet to strike any big form.
  • Played: 16; Won: 11; Lost:  5; 
  • Won/Lost  at Home: 6 Won vs. 2 Lost ; Won/Lost  Away: 5 Won vs. 3 Lost ; 
  • Won/Lost  Batting first:  6 Won vs. 1 Lost;  Won/Lost chasing :  5 Won vs. 4 Lost ;
  • Won/Lost batting first at home: 3 Won vs. 0 Lost ; Won/Lost Chasing at home: 3 Won vs. 2 Lost ;
  • Won/Lost batting first away: 3 Won vs. 1 Lost ;  Won/Lost Chasing away: 2 Won vs. 2 Lost  ;
  • Batsmen with most runs(50s/100s): Mike Hussey with 646 runs(5/0), Suresh Raina with 466 runs(3/1),  M S Dhoni with 398 runs(3/0)  and Murali Vijay with 271 runs (2/0) ; 
  • Bowler with most wickets(Average): 25 by Dwayne Bravo(17.84), 17 by Mohit Sharma(15.76) and 15 by R Ashwin(23.4) ; 
  • Most consistent batsman (>=30 runs/innings): 9 – M Hussey , 7 – S Raina, and 6-M S Dhoni  ;
  • Most economical bowler(wickets): 6.23  by Mohit Sharma(17) , 6.62 by R Ashwin(15) & 6.72 by Albie Morkel(4) ;  
  • Most consistent bowler (>=3 wickets/innings): Twice each by M Sharma (3 /10 and 3/21), R Jadeja (3/20 and 3/29) and D Bravo (3/27 and 3/34).  Ashwin is no more a threat he used to be as he has no 3-wicket haul and is not used as strike bowler by
  • Best Fielder – non Wicket-keeper (catches): Dwayne Bravo (12) from 16 matches
  • Surprise find: Mohit Sharma – a medium-pace bowler who made his debut this season both for IPL and T20; 
  • # of times in Semifinals:  6  ;  # of times in finals:  4 ;  # of times IPL champions:  2; 
  • Top players paid the most :   M S Dhoni($3M), R Jadeja($2M), S Raina($1.3M), M Vijay($900K), R Ashwin($850K), S Badrinath($800K),Albie Morkel($500K), Mike Hussey($425K), D Bravo($200K), Faf Du Plessis($120K)
  • Top players paid most in 2013 in Auction: Chris Morris ($625K) and Dirk Nannes($600K)
  • Captain’s performance:  M S Dhoni:  398 runs with 3 Fifties and average 36.18 and 167.22 Strike rate, 13 catches and 2 stumping and a win record of  68.75%
  • Not Worthy Performances by ‘Stars’:  M Vijay has not done much to make a difference(only four scores over 30), Dirk Nannes (4 wickets from 5 matches at 39.5 average and 7.96 economy rate)
  • Fair Play Award Rank for IPL6:  Leaders this year  (Won it three times out of 5 so far overall)
  • Previous results from IPL5 and IPL4:  Runner-up in IPL5 and Winner in IPL4

Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB):  Have won the toss 5 times, chose to bat twice (1 Won and 1 lost) and field 3 times (all 3 won).  It is fair to say that every time they won the toss at home, they chose to field and chose to Bat when they are away. Whenever they win the toss and field, they have won all the games.

  • Their top order has been very consistent this season with Gayle, Kohli and AB firing almost every other game. From the records, it is seen that Gayle is more threatening at home but Kohli and AB are equally good at both home and away.  They do not seem to have any other batsman performing, nor had the reason to bat itself.
  • Bowling has been mediocre at best, although RP Singh took 3-wickets three times, they were all at home ground.
  • Played: 16; Won: 9; Lost:  7;   had two tied games – one lost and one won in Super over.
  • Won/Lost  at Home: 7 Won vs. 1 Lost ; Won/Lost  Away: 2 Won vs. 6 Lost ; 
  • Won/Lost  Batting first: 5 Won vs. 5 Lost ;  Won/Lost chasing : 4 Won vs. 2 Lost ;
  • Won/Lost batting first at home: 3 Won vs. 1 Lost ; Won/Lost Chasing at home: 4 Won vs. 0 Lost  ;
  • Won/Lost batting first away: 2 Won vs. 4 Lost ;  Won/Lost Chasing away:  0 Won vs. 2 Lost ;
  • Batsmen with most runs(50s/100s): Chris Gayle with 708 runs (4/1), Virat Kohli  with 634 runs (6/0), AB De Villiers with 360 runs (2/0); 
  • Bowler with most wickets(Average):  23 by Vinay Kumar(21.43) in 16 matches and 13 by three –   R Rampaul(20.07),  J Unadkat(28.46), RP Singh(25.76) in 10, 13 and 11 matches respectively ; 
  • Most consistent batsman (>=30 runs/innings):   9 by Virat Kohli, 8 by Chris Gayle, 6 by AB De Villiers;
  • Most economical bowler(wickets): 6.92 by Ravi Rampaul(13) ;  
  • Most consistent bowler (>=3 wickets/innings): Both RP Singh (3/13, 3/27, 3/27) and Vinay Kumar (3/18, 3/27, 3/31) have done it three times, although RP has played only 11 matches vs. Vinay’s 16.  Unadkat has one 5/25 to his name and Zaheer a 4/17 in the last game with CSK.   RP Singh got all his three wickets hauls playing at Home.
  • Best Fielder – non Wicket-keeper (catches):   Vinay Kumar with 8 and Virat Kohli with 7 catches from 16 matches, AB DE Villiers has 8 catches(but he may have been  a WK in couple)
  • Surprise find:  Moises Henriques is worth a mention for his utility all-round performance; Unadkat can be groomed to be a good bowler- has potential.
  • # of times in Semifinals:   3 ;  # of times in finals:  2 ;  # of times IPL champions: 0 ; 
  • Top players paid the most :   Chris Gayle($2M), Virat Kohli($1.8M), S Tiwary($1.6M), AB De Villiers($1.1M), Vinay Kumar($1M), Zaheer Khan($900K), C Pujara($700K), T Dilshan($650K), D Vettori($550K), A Mithun($360K), M Muralidharan($220K), Andrew MacDonald($100K)
  • Top players paid most in 2013 in Auction: Jaydev Unadkat($525K), RP Singh($400K), Moises Henriques($300K), Ravi Rampaul($290K)
  • Captain’s performance: Virat Kohli with a win record of 56.25% and the 2nd top scorer for RCB with 634 runs that includes 6 Fifties with an average of 45.28 and strike rate of 138.73 and has taken 7 catches. His 634 runs are the most by any captain in any IPL.
  • Not Worthy Performances by ‘Stars’: Saurabh Tiwary (109 from 9 matches at an average of 27.25), Zaheer Khan out due to injury for most of the matches, Muralitharan not being that effective anymore, Dilshan had not much to write about with his bat, and Vettori was never played.
  • Fair Play Award points:  Ranked 4th out of 9 this year
  • Previous results from IPL5 and IPL4: Finished 5th in IPL5 &  Runner-up in IPL4

Sun Risers Hyderabad (SRH): They have won the toss 6 times- chose to bat 5 times(4 times away and 1 time at home) and field once(that too at home).  They won only once (that too at home) and lost 5 times.  When they are away and win the toss, they choose to bat – again, may not be reading the conditions well and hence want to put a tall score and allow the home team to chase it.

  • Whenever Parthiv and Dhawan fared well as an opening pair, they have had good success.
  • Glad to see lots of local Andhra talent being utilized by the franchisee to give them an arena to perform – H Vihari was a revelation, thanks to the opportunities although he needs to improve significantly on his strike rate.
  • Perera as an all-rounder made it count with his batting at the finish, along with the big hitting and was very decent with the ball as well.
  • Although their bowling unit can be rated well with the likes of Steyn, Mishra and Ishant, not much damage seen in terms of high number of wicket hauls by them. Many an occasion though they have managed to restrict their opponents to lower scores.
  • Played: 16; Won: 10(Includes one Tie game with RCB that they won in Super over); Lost: 6; 
  • Won/Lost  at Home:7 Won vs. 1 Lost  ; Won/Lost  Away: 3 Won vs. 5 Lost ; 
  • Won/Lost  Batting first: 4 Won vs. 4 Lost ;  Won/Lost chasing : 6 Won vs. 2 Lost ;
  • Won/Lost batting first at home: 2 Won vs. 0 Lost ; Won/Lost Chasing at home:  5 Won vs. 1 Lost;
  • Won/Lost batting first away: 2 Won vs. 4 Lost ;  Won/Lost Chasing away: 1 Won vs. 1 Lost  ;
  • Batsmen with most runs(50s/100s): Parthiv Patel with 293 runs (1/0), S Dhawan with 278 runs(3/0) and Hanuma Vihari with 240 runs (0/0) ; 
  • Bowler with most wickets(Average): 20 by Amit Mishra(18.9), 19 by T Perera(24.42), 18 by Dale Steyn(20.05) and 14 by Ishant Sharma(31.07)  ; 
  • Most consistent batsman (>=30 runs/innings): 4 times by both T Perera  and S Dhawan, and 3 times by Parthiv, C White and H Vihari ;
  • Most economical bowler(wickets): 5.65 by Dale Steyn(18) ;  
  • Most consistent bowler (>=3 wickets/innings): 3 times by Amit Mishra (4/19, 3/19, 3/26), 2 times by Perera (3/20, 3/45) and Darren Sammy had taken a 4/22 once.
  • Best Fielder – non Wicket-keeper (catches): CameronWhite with 10 catches and Ashish Reddy with 7 catches, both from 12 games
  • Surprise find:  Hanuma Vihari; 
  • # of times in Semifinals:  3  ;  # of times in finals:  1 ;  # of times IPL champions: 1(as Deccan Chargers) ; 
  • Top players paid the most :   Dale Steyn($1.2M),  C White($1.1M), K Sangakkara($700K), Parthiv Patel($600K), Ishant Sharma($450K), JP Duminy($300K)-did not play this season, S Dhawan($300K), Amit Mishra($300K),
  • Top players paid most in 2013 in Auction:  Thisara Perera($675K), Darren Sammy($425K)
  • Captain’s performance: K Sangakkara with no scores over 30 and with 55.55% wins in 9 games (5 Won and 4 Lost) – at home, won 4 and lost 1 & away, won 1 and lost 3, Cameron White had only one fifty score and an average of 16.18 but had a 71.43% win record having won 5 and lost 2 off the 7 games he captained – won all three home games, and won and lost 2 games each away from Hyderabad.
  • Not Worthy Performances by ‘Stars’: Cameron White – 178 runs with only 1 fifty at an average of 16.18, Kumar Sangakkara-120 runs with his highest score of 28 and an average of 13.33
  • Fair Play Award points: Ranked 7th this year
  • Previous results from IPL5 and IPL4 (as Deccan Chargers): Finished 8th in IPL5 (out of 9) and 7th in IPL4 (out of 10)

Pune Warriors India (PWI): Has always been the worst or second worst in three years of its IPL.  They won the toss 9 times- chose to bat 5 times and field 4 time. They won the toss 4 times at home (3 times batted and once fielded) and 5 times away (2 times batted and 3 times fielded).  They pretty much lost all their matches except one (away when they beat CSK) – with three captains this season, this would have been a confusing thing in terms of answerability and getting support from the team members. Whenever they field after winning the toss, they have lost – shows a lot about reading the conditions badly and the opponents badly, and not able to bowl and restrict to be able to chase with their modest batting. 

  • Their flop was due to the fact that only 9 times a batsman has hit 30 runs and above this season, and only 3 times a bowler has taken a 3 wicket haul. They had three captains and their regular captain Clarke withdrew before the tournament!
  • Except for Bhuvneshwar Kumar, their bowling was below par. 
  • Other than Aaron Finch, no other batsmen seem to be consistent and wanted to get a big score or stick around – I did not see a fire-in-the-belly approach anytime.
  • Something has to be done to this franchise they seem to be the bottom team for the past three years. 
  • Played: 16; Won: 4; Lost: 12; 
  • Won/Lost  at Home: 2 Won vs. 6 Lost ; Won/Lost  Away:  2 Won vs. 6 Lost ; 
  • Won/Lost  Batting first: 3 Won vs. 4 Lost ;  Won/Lost chasing : 1 Won vs. 8 Lost ;
  • Won/Lost batting first at home: 1 Won vs. 2 Lost ; Won/Lost Chasing at home: 1 Won vs. 4 Lost ;
  • Won/Lost batting first away: 2 Won vs. 2 Lost ;  Won/Lost Chasing away: 0 Won vs. 4 Lost  ;
  • Batsmen with most runs(50s/100s):  456 runs by Aaron Finch(4/0), 434 runs by Robin Uthappa(2/0) and 238 runs by Yuvraj Singh(0/0); 
  • Bowler with most wickets(Average): 16 wickets by Ashok Dinda(29.06) and 13 wickets by Bhuvneshwar Kumar(28.53) ; 
  • Most consistent batsman (>=30 runs/innings):  7 times by Aaron Finch, 6 by Robin Uthappa and 4 by Yuvraj;
  • Most economical bowler(wickets): 6.50 by Bhuvneshwar Kumar(13) ;  
  • Most consistent bowler (>=3 wickets/innings): Twice by Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3/18,3/25) and 1 time each by Ashok Dinda(3/31) , Angelo Mathews(3./14), W Parnell(3/27) and Ali Murtaza(3/15)
  • Best Fielder – non Wicket-keeper (catches): 7 by Mitchell Marsh from 9 games and 6 by Manish Pandey from 7 games
  • Surprise find:  Bhuvneshwar Kumar($60K) and Aaron Finch, for a guy who was NOT sold in the auction initially, he has turned out to be the highest run scorer to prove his stake and managed to captain the star-less team; 
  • # of times in Semifinals:   0 ;  # of times in finals:  0 ;  # of times IPL champions: 0 ; 
  • Top players paid the most :   Robin Uthappa($2.1M), Yuvraj Singh($1.8M), Ross Taylor, Angelo Mathews($950K), Ashok Dinda($500K), Marlon Samuels($400K)- 2 matches and 8 runs, Luke Wright($200K), Wayne Parnell($160K)
  • Top players paid most in 2013 in Auction: Ajantha Mendis($725K)-2 wickets from 3 matches, Kane Richardson($700K)- 2 wickets from 3 matches, Abhisek Nayar($675K) – 2 wickets, hit 66 runs from 11 matches, Michael Clarke($400K), Ross Taylor – 63 runs in 5 matches at an average of 12.6
  • Captain’s performance: A Mathews – captained 5 with a win record of 20% – won 1(at home) and lost 4 (2 at home and 2 away), Aaron Finch – captained 10 times (5 each at home and away) with a win record of 20% – won 1 and lost 4 each at home and away,  Ross Taylor – captained one and won it against CSK at Chennai (100%)
  • Not Worthy Performances by ‘Stars’:  Yuvraj Singh(238 runs with No fifties and just 4 scores of 30 and above. and 19.83 average and only 6 wickets), Angelo Mathews(172 runs with No fifties and 3 scores of 30 and above, and 24.57 average and just 5 wickets), Abhishek Nayar(66 runs with 11 average and 2 wickets from 11 matches), Rahul Sharma(9 wickets from 11 matches at 31.22 average), Ross Taylor(63 runs from 5 matches at an average of 12.6) and Robin Uthappa(only 2 scores of 50 and above).
  • Fair Play Award points:  3rd  best this season
  • Previous results from IPL5 and IPL4: Finished last in IPL5 and Finished 9th in IPL4(out of 10)

Mumbai Indians (MI): Won all Home league games, same as RR.  Like RR and KKR, they have been lucky at the toss having won 11 times and choosing to bat almost all the time except for twice (in away games -in their first and last league matches).  6 times they have won the toss at home and 5 times away. Once Rohit wins the toss, it is fair to say he elects to bat mostly.  Mumbai did have a strong batting line up that was in form and batting first gives them the liberty to post good scores, so that their  bowlers can defend them – with the likes of Malinga at the death and M Johnson taking wickets in the beginning, it is not surprising their  overall results have been great. They are knocking very close for the past three years, having been in the semi-finals all the three times and once in the finals, and may be this is the year for them to get crowned.

  •  All their players have struck well and hence there were other good players who did not get too much of a chance to play – they had a problem of plenty which is a good problem to have. 
  • Overall their bowling is just Ok with some big names in it – but the resurgence of Johnson taking wickets early and Malinga being his best at the death with his Yorkers seem to be doing a lot of good.
  • Played: 16; Won: 11; Lost:  5; 
  • Won/Lost  at Home: 8 Won vs. 0 Lost ; Won/Lost  Away: 3 Won vs. 5 Lost ; 
  • Won/Lost  Batting first: 8 Won vs. 2 Lost ;  Won/Lost chasing : 3 Won vs. 3 Lost ;
  • Won/Lost batting first at home: 7 Won vs. 0 Lost ; Won/Lost Chasing at home: 1 Won vs. 0 Lost ;
  • Won/Lost batting first away:1 Won vs. 2 Lost  ;  Won/Lost Chasing away: 2 Won vs. 3 Lost  ;
  • Batsmen with most runs(50s/100s):  526 by Rohit Sharma(4/0), 456 by Dinesh Karthik(2/0) and 325 by K Pollard(2/0) ; 
  • Bowler with most wickets(Average): 22 by M Johnson(17.13), 19 by Harbhajan Singh (20.68) and 17 by L Malinga(21.05) ; 
  • Most consistent batsman (>=30 runs/innings):  8 by Dinesh Karthik, 7 by Rohit Sharma, 5 by Dwayne Smith and then 4 times each by Pollard and Tendulkar
  • Most economical bowler(wickets):  6.66 by Harbhajan Singh(19) and 6.71 by L Malinga(17) ;  
  • Most consistent bowler (>=3 wickets/innings): 2 times by Harbhajan Singh(3/14,3/27)
  • Best Fielder – non Wicket-keeper (catches):   Pollard with 11 catches from 15 games, and Rayudu took 8 catches from 16 games
  • Surprise find:  None in particular but M Johnson was a revelation in bowling by taking early wickets ; 
  • # of times in Semifinals:   4 ;  # of times in finals:  1 ;  # of times IPL champions: 0 ; 
  • Top players paid the most :  Rohit Sharma($2M), S Tendulkar($1.8M),  Harbhajan Singh($1.3M), Dinesh Karthik($1.2M), Lasith Malinga($1.1M), K Pollard($900K), P Ojha($800K),Munaf Patel($700K), Mitchell Johnson($300K), James Franklin($100K)
  • Top players paid most in 2013 in Auction:  Glenn Maxwell($1M)-played in the last 3 league games only(36 runs at 18 average and took no wicket), Nathan Coulter-Nile($450K) – played only the last league game(hit 9 runs and took 1 Wicket), Ricky Ponting($400K)
  • Captain’s performance:  Ricky Ponting (52 runs from 6 matches with 10.4 average  and 50% captaincy win percentage out of 6 matches) and Rohit Sharma (296 from 10 matches at 42.28 average and 1 Fifty, and 80% captaincy Win percentage in 10 matches).  As a non captain, Rohit had a better record having aggregated 230 runs in 6 matches with three scores of over fifty – does feel that captaincy is taking a toll on his batting!.
  • Not Worthy Performances by ‘Stars’: Munaf Patel(played 3 matches and took 3 wickets), S Tendulkar(287 from 14 matches at 22.07 average and only 1 Fifty), Ricky Ponting(52 runs from 6 matches at an average of 10.4)
  • Fair Play Award points: Ranked 6th out of 9 this year
  • Previous results from IPL5 and IPL4: Semi-Finalists in both IPL5 and IPL4

Rajasthan Royals (RR):  Won all Home leagues games, same as MI.  Seems to be lucky at the toss, having won 10 times and chose to field(3 times at home and 2 times away) and bat(once at home and 4 times away) 5 times each. They have won 6 times (4 times fielding and 2 times batting) and lost 4 times (once fielding and 4 times batting). It is fair to say that if they win the toss, and chose to field they have a higher probability of a win and if they chose to bat, they have a higher probability of a loss. And they have won all their matches at home when they have won their toss which makes me believe they understand the Jaipur ground condition well.

  • Stuart Binny as a great utility all-rounder was a good thing for RR and he seems to be a decent finisher they needed with 4 not-outs scores of >30 to his credit.
  • The 18 year old Sanju Samson is another revelation who has a decent technique and nice aggression to back it. Hope he learns from the Dravids, Watsons and Hodges to make it big soon.
  • Faulkner has been their main bowler and the only bowler with two 5-wicket hauls.  K Cooper has been slightly consistent as well with some 3-wicket hauls.
  • Their entire team is built around Shane Watson who alone can take any game away.
  • Rahane, after being dropped from being selected for the Champions Trophy, made it a point for making his bat speak for him with some consistent 50+ scores.   But again, like Rohit Sharma, he has been given a lot of chances in the big stage but he had not made it count at all.
  • Played: 16; Won: 10; Lost:  6; 
  • Won/Lost  at Home: 8 Won vs. 0 Lost ; Won/Lost  Away: 2 Won vs. 6 Lost ; 
  • Won/Lost  Batting first: 3 Won vs. 4 Lost ;  Won/Lost chasing : 7 Won vs. 2 Lost ;
  • Won/Lost batting first at home: 2 Won vs. 0 Lost ; Won/Lost Chasing at home: 6 Won vs. 0 Lost ;
  • Won/Lost batting first away: 1 Won vs. 4 Lost ;  Won/Lost Chasing away: 1 Won vs. 2 Lost  ;
  • Batsmen with most runs(50s/100s): 513 runs by Shane Watson(2/1), 449 by A Rahane(4/0) and 416 by Rahul Dravid(4/0) ; 
  • Bowler with most wickets(Average):  26 by James Faulkner(13.96), 17 by Kevon Cooper(22.35) ; 
  • Most consistent batsman (>=30 runs/innings): 8 times by Shane Watson, 7 times by A Rahane and 6 by both Rahul Dravid and Stuart Binny ;
  • Most economical bowler (wickets): 6.58 by J Faulkner (26), 6.66 by Shane Watson (11);   Sorry discounting Chandila who had 6.24 from 8 matches!
  • Most consistent bowler (>=3 wickets/innings):4 times by J Faulkner(5/16,5/20,3/16,3/20), and 3 times by Kevon Cooper(3/15,3/23,3/30)
  • Best Fielder – non Wicket-keeper (catches): 9 by A Rahane in 16 games, and 6 each by Shane Watson and Brad Hodge in 14 and 15 games respectively
  • Surprise find: James Faulkner as a good strike bowler and Stuart Binny as a good utility all-rounder ; 
  • # of times in Semifinals:  2  ;  # of times in finals:  1 ;  # of times IPL champions: 1 ; 
  • Top players paid the most :  Shane Watson($1.3M), Rahul Dravid($500K), Brad Hodge($475K), Sreesanth($400K), Shaun Tait($300K)- 1 wicket in 3 matches, Owais Shah($200K) – 24 runs from 2 matches, Brad Hogg($180K)-went wicket less in the only match he played
  • Top players paid most in 2013 in Auction: James Faulkner($400K), Fidel Edwards($210K)
  • Captain’s performance: Rahul Dravid  with 62.5% winning percentage, 416 runs with 4 fifties at an average of 29.71 and 110.05 strike rate, and 3 catches
  • Not Worthy Performances by ‘Stars’: Sreesanth, Chandila
  • Special mention:  Ajinkya Rahane($60K), and Kevon Cooper($50K)
  • Fair Play Award points:  2nd best this season
  • Previous results from IPL5 and IPL4: Finished 7th in IPL5 (out of 9) and 6th in IPL4(out of 10)

Kings Eleven Punjab (KXIP): They won their toss 7 times(3 times at home and 4 times away) – chose to field 5 times(3 times at home and 2 times away) and bat 2 times(both away).  They won 4 times (always chasing) and lost 3 times (twice batting and once fielding). If they choose to bat after winning the toss, it is always away which makes me feel that they have not understood the ground well and want to get a big score to de-risk their play.

  • Sorry, Adam Gilchrist is not the threat he used to be. Fully understanding this, a great player like him also hung his shoes at the end. He did have some good scores towards the last few games but the way he made it was not Gilly style.
  • No Great starts in this team, but seems like Shaun Marsh has silently been performing well, and David Miller has stuck big as a great finisher for them.
  • There is a lot of talent available to be groomed here – Mandeep, Manan, Gurkeerat and Sandeep, and I hope they stay the course and make it in due course to the big leagues.
  • Played: 16; Won: 8; Lost: 8; 
  • Won/Lost  at Home(Includes Dharamsala):  5 Won vs. 3 Lost; Won/Lost  Away:  3 Won vs. 5 Lost ; 
  • Won/Lost  Batting first: 2 Won vs. 5 Lost ;  Won/Lost chasing : 6 Won vs. 3 Lost ;
  • Won/Lost batting first at home: 2 Won vs. 2 Lost ; Won/Lost Chasing at home:3 Won vs. 1 Lost  ;
  • Won/Lost batting first away: 0 Won vs. 3 Lost ;  Won/Lost Chasing away:  3 Won vs. 2 Lost ;
  • Batsmen with most runs(50s/100s): 418 runs by David Miller(3/1), 300 runs by Shaun Marsh(3/0) ; 
  • Bowler with most wickets(Average): 15 wickets by both Azhar Mahmood(22.00) and Parvinder Awana(27.46) ; 
  • Most consistent batsman (>=30 runs/innings):  6 times by David Miller and 4 times by Shaun Marsh ;
  • Most economical bowler(wickets): 6.62 by Praveen Kumar(12) ;  
  • Most consistent bowler (>=3 wickets/innings): 2 times by Sandeep Sharma(3/21,3/23) and Azhar Mahmood(3/21,3/35)
  • Best Fielder – non Wicket-keeper (catches): 8 catches by Miller in 12 matches and 6 catches by Mandeep in 16 matches
  • Surprise find: Sandeep Sharma – a medium pacer who took 8 wickets from 4 matches includes two 3 wicket hauls, Mandeep Singh with 3 scores of 30 and above and total runs of 260 with a strike rate of 116.59 ; 
  • # of times in Semifinals:   1 ;  # of times in finals: 0  ;  # of times IPL champions: 0 ; 
  • Top players paid the most :   David Hussey($1.4M), Adam Gilchrist($900K), Piyush Chawla($900K), Praveen Kumar($800K), Shaun Marsh($400K), Ryan Harris($325K), Azhar Mahmood($200K),David Miller($100K), D Mascarenhas($100K)
  • Top players paid most in 2013 in Auction: Manpreet Gony($500K), Luke Pomersback($300K)
  • Captain’s performance: Adam Gilchrist- captained 13 matches(7 at home and 6 away), won 7(4 at home and 3 away) and lost 6(3 each at home and away) – 53.84% win record, D Hussey – captained 3 matches – won 1 at home and lost 2 away from home(33% win record)
  • Not Worthy Performances by ‘Stars’: David Hussey(235 runs from 12 matches and 0 wickets at an economy rate of 8.27) , Adam Gilchrist294 runs from 13 matches but not hitting the ball well and is not a threat anymore), M Gony(7 wickets from 8 matches with economy rate of 9.14 and average of 36.57), Ryan Harris(1 wicket from 3 matches), Piyush Chawla with no 3 wicket haul at all and an average of 38, Praveen Kumar with no 3-wicket haul and an average of 31.08
  • Fair Play Award points:  Ranked 5th out of 9 this year
  • Previous results from IPL5 and IPL4: Finished 6th in IPL5 (out of 9) and 5th in IPL4 (out of 10)

Delhi Daredevils (DD): Lost all away matches so far.  Also when they win the toss, they lose the match and thankfully, they have not been too lucky with the toss. They won 5 tosses, chose 3 times to Bat (2 away and 1 Home) and 2 times to Field (1 each at home and away).

  •  Delhi lost all their away matches, and except for one 4 wicket haul by Umesh, none of bowlers in the entire 16 games even took a 3 wicket haul any day which is a disgrace for a team that had M Morkel, Yadav, Irfan Pathan and Ashish Nehra.
  • They need two more good batsmen to support David Warner henceforth, and some re-jigs in their bowling department which has a lot of old Indian bowlers like Ashish and Ajit who are well beyond their peak.
  • Played: 15; Won: 3; Lost: 13(includes one Tied match they lost during Super over vs. RCB); 
  • Won/Lost  at Home(includes Raipur): 3 Won vs. 5 Lost ; Won/Lost  Away: 0 Won vs. 8 Lost ; 
  • Won/Lost  Batting first: 1 Won vs. 6 Lost ;  Won/Lost chasing : 2 Won vs. 7 Lost ;
  • Won/Lost batting first at home: 1 Won vs. 2 Lost ; Won/Lost Chasing at home: 2 Won vs. 3 Lost  ;
  • Won/Lost batting first away: 0 Won vs. 4 Lost ;  Won/Lost Chasing away: 0 Won vs. 4 Lost  ;
  • Batsmen with most runs(50s/100s): 410 runs by David Warner(4/0), 331 by M Jayawardhene(2/0) ; 
  • Bowler with most wickets(Average): 16 by Umesh Yadav(31.75), 11 by Ashish Nehra(28.72) and 10 by Irfan Pathan(38.2) ; 
  • Most consistent batsman (>=30 runs/innings): 6 by David Warner, 4 by M Jayawardhene and 3 by Ben Rohrer ;
  • Most economical bowler(wickets): 5.88 by Shahbaz Nadeem(9) ;  
  • Most consistent bowler (>=3 wickets/innings): 1 by Umesh Yadav(4/24) – no other bowler even took 3-wickets ever.
  • Best Fielder – non Wicket-keeper (catches):  6 by David Warner(16 matches) and 5 each by Johan Botha(6 matches), S Nadeem(12 matches), V Sehwag(13 matches) and Umesh Yadav(16 matches)
  • Surprise find: Siddarth Kaul shows good promise(4 wickets from 6 matches) , Nadeem seems to be economical and a great fielder, and Ben Rohrer(193 from 8 matches with 1 Fifty and 3 scores above 30 and strike rate of 137.85  and took 3 catches); 
  • # of times in Semifinals:   3 ;  # of times in finals:  0 ;  # of times IPL champions: 0 ; 
  • Top players paid the most :   Irfan Pathan($1.9M), V Sehwag($1.8M), M Jayawardene($1.4M), Kevin Peitersen($1M)-did not play due to injury, David Warner($750K), Umesh Yadav($750K), Venugopal Rao($700K)-played one match, Morne Morkel($475K), Andree Russell($450K), Naman Ojha($270K), Ajit Agarkar($210K)
  • Top players paid most in 2013 in Auction:  Johan Botha($450K), Jesse Ryder($260K)
  • Captain’s performance:  M. Jayawardhene – captained 14 matches, won 3(all at home) and lost 11, David Warner- captained 2 matches, most both (one at home and one away)
  • Not Worthy Performances by ‘Stars’: Irfan Pathan-142 runs at an average of 17.75 with no score over thirty  and 10 wickets at an average of 38.2, Virendra Sehwag-295 runs at an average of 24.58 with his two highest scores being 95 no and 30, Mahela Jayawardhene-331 runs at an average of 22.06, M Morkel with 7 wickets from 10 matches at an average of 47.85, Umesh Yadav with only one 4 wicket haul and expensive at 8.78 runs/over.
  • Fair Play Award points:  Ranked 8th out of 9th this year
  • Previous results from IPL5 and IPL4: Semi-Finalists in IPL5 and finished last in IPL4

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR): They have not won any games chasing away from home this season.  They seem to be the luckiest in terms of toss, having won 12 times – chose to bat and field 6 times each. They won the toss 6 times at home(batted and fielded 3 times each)  and 6 times away(chose to bat 3 times and field 3 times).  They won the match 4 times(3 at home and 1 away) and lost 8 times(3 at home and 5 away).  It is fair to say that the toss does not give them an advantage as they seem to be poor in deciding what to do in getting a favorable result for them.  

  • None of the batsmen who played more than 5 matches had an average of >30 which is deplorable.   Kallis seems to be beyond his peak when it comes to strike rates, and Yusuf batted when it did not matter anymore (KKR was already close to be being out of the tournament).   Eoin Morgan  having had a decent batting average must hone his skills better to be a finisher for KKR.
  • The same goes with bowling – Narine needs 1-2 more good consistent, economical and wicket taking bowlers
  • Their main owner who was all over the TV in the past five years was hardly to be seen – is there an issue here?
  • Played: 16; Won: 6; Lost: 10 ; 
  • Won/Lost  at Home(includes Ranchi): 5 Won vs. 3 Lost ; Won/Lost  Away: 1 Won vs. 7 Lost ; 
  • Won/Lost  Batting first: 2 Won vs. 5 Lost ;  Won/Lost chasing : 4 Won vs. 5 Lost ;
  • Won/Lost batting first at home: 1 Won vs. 2 Lost ; Won/Lost Chasing at home: 4 Won vs. 1 Lost ;
  • Won/Lost batting first away: 1 Won vs. 3 Lost ;  Won/Lost Chasing away: 0 Won vs. 4 Lost  ;
  • Batsmen with most runs(50s/100s):  406 runs by G Gambhir(4/0), 332 runs by Yusuf Pathan(1/0) , 311 runs by J Kallis(0/0) and 307 runs by Eoin Morgan(1/0),; 
  • Bowler with most wickets(Average): 22 wickets by Sunil Narine(15.9) and 16 wickets by Jacques Kallis(24.62) ; 
  • Most consistent batsman (>=30 runs/innings): 6 times by Eoin Morgan and 5 times each by G Gambhir and J Kallis ;
  • Most economical bowler(wickets): 5.46 by Sunil Narine(22) ;  
  • Most consistent bowler (>=3 wickets/innings): 3 times by Sunil Narine(4/13,4/22,3/17) – all at home,  and 2 times by J Kallis(3/13,3/24)
  • Best Fielder – non Wicket-keeper (catches):  Manoj Tiwary – 10 catches from 10 matches and 6 catches from 16 matches by Narine.
  • Surprise find:  NONE; 
  • # of times in Semifinals:  2  ;  # of times in finals:  1 ;  # of times IPL champions: 1 ; 
  • Top players paid the most :   G Gambhir($2.4M), Yusuf Pathan($2.1M), Jacques Kallis($1.1M), B McCullum($900K), Sunil Narine($700K), Shakib Al Hasan($625K),  L Balaji($500K), Manoj Tiwary($475K), Brett Lee($400K), Eoin Morgan($350K), Brad Haddin($325K), Ryan Ten Doeschate($150K), James Pattinson($100K)
  • Top players paid most in 2013 in Auction: Sachitra Senenayake($625K)
  • Captain’s performance: G Gambhir – 406 runs with an average of 25.37 and strike rate of 118.36 with 4 fifties and with just 37.5% winning rate
  • Not Worthy Performances by ‘Stars’: Yusuf Pathan-332 runs with an average of 25.72, Brendon McCullum-played only one game, Manoj Tiwary-146 runs with an average of 18.25 with no fifty and a strike rate of 104.28 and a highest score of 33, Brett Lee – 4 wickets from 3 matches.
  • Fair Play Award points:  Ranked last this year
  • Previous results from IPL5 and IPL4: Winners of IPL5 and semi-finalists in IPL4

All data collected after all the 72 matches of the league stages were done with.

For all bowling, fielding and batting statistics, the player must have played a minimum of 5 games in IPL6.

Most statistics referenced from espncricinfo.com  and the official website iplt20.com.

     From the revenue figures listed in the Aril02 issue of Live Mint, looks like only Rajasthan Royal have been able to make a profit for the past couple of years, and KKR and Pune Warriors say they are profitable this past year.  RCB seems to have incurred the heaviest loss in 2011-12 whereas the other three franchisees (KXIP, DD, MI) are showing their losses are narrowing down already .  SRH predicts after this year’s loss, they hope to be profitable next year.  CSK revenue figures are not obvious as they seem to operate within their parent company that owns them.  Overall, there is no consistent data available to show the revenue numbers or the profile/loss statement for any of the franchisees online which , in my opinion, must be available in a very transparent manner to all.

Disclaimer:  Although best attempt has been made in ensuring the names and the details behind the statistics are correct, any error needs to be pardoned as I believe they may be only a few and does not distort the message being conveyed.

Teams of IPL9 (Apr/May 2016) – observations and analysis

This is a compiled list of the most significant players given below (not all the players) in each of the eight teams that is playing in the ninth chapter of IPL.  The first thing that strikes out after having seen 11 matches (till RCB vs DD) has been the absence of Chennai super Kings and Rajasthan Royals, two of the premium franchisees of the first eight IPLs.


  • Going by the number of empty seats in almost all grounds thus far, looks like some of the interest is fading.  It is also worthwhile to note that the high prices of certain tickets is keeping spectators away from the stadium, added to all the negative publicity that IPL had got over the past year .
  • Most of the matches so far has been  one sided without a close finish which makes me feel that either  the players are warming up or their team chemistry is not in place yet.
  • Most of the teams seem to be lacking batting depth with no quality all-rounders filling in the middle-overs spots, and most of the teams do seem to have only two or three good bowlers.
  • Every team seems to also have holes in their fielding which does not bode well while  defending smaller totals, and slower runners between wickets which may be a disaster if you are chasing huge totals.
  • Gujarat Lions with three wins thus far is roaring, thanks to it inheriting the best all-rounders (Jadeja, Raina, and Bravo) of this format and the better fielders of the now defunct CSK team.  With Brendon and Aaron Finch and supported by Dwayne Smith as a backup, they seem to be having the best hard-hitting opening pair of IPL9.  Bravo and Faulkner also make the best death bowling pair in the tournament, with their effective slower balls.
  • Pune Supergiants given that this is captained by MSD who likes tried and tested players and would not like to change the team that much, would not be able to exploit their deep pipeline of players.   Their star find may be Murugan Ashwin and with two Ashwins for spin, they look set for some quality eight overs. But MSD who believes that fielding does win matches has to throw this thought in the back-burner as he has a lot of less agile legs and slow pick-up-and-throwers in his team – R Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, RP Singh, Irfan Pathan, Ishwar Pandey,  Ashok Dinda and Rajat Bhatia, which would make him concede about 10 runs more every game.  His best fielders are all his foreign players and Rahane, and those are the five he should use at the right fielding positions.   He has been a lucky charm to all the teams he has led so far in the limited overs format.
  • Kolkata Knight Riders seem to be a stable team and most of them have been together for a few years and looking like the team to beat in this episode of IPL. Andre Russell would be the only foreign player to play in all matches and the other three spots seem to be open for rotation depending on the ground conditions, although I expect Shakib to play in most of the games as a genuine all-rounder and Narine as their main spinner. Gambhir’s batting forte is his Indian players and this is unique amongst all the teams that is playing, and with Gambhir in top form in the initial games, thus making a statement to BCCI that he is ready to replace S Dhawan, this IPL9 may give him back his Indian Jersey in all formats for the next 1-2 years.  Anyway India is playing mostly tests and mostly at home!  KKR support seems to be most loved this season as even the Eden Gardens gets filled for their games, despite some stands in other stadiums giving a barren look.
  • Kings XI Punjab after having been to the finals couple of years ago, have been in the doldrums since and they seem to be a Miller and Maxwell show. Sandeep Sharma has been showing good potential for a while but they do not seem to have a cohesive batting or a bowling story and they seem to be short in both departments.  Their batting can be aided by Shawn Marsh and their bowling can be strengthened by Mitchell Johnson and Mohit Sharma, and their opening batting pair of Vijay and Vora needs to be more consistent.
  • Mumbai Indians again has this purely talented but inconsistent Rohit as the captain and their opener and with no Malinga, they need to depend on the rising star Bumrah to do the opening spell and death bowling damages. With only Bhajji being their star spinner, they seem to lack strength in their Indian bowling department with only Vinay having some international exposure.  They cannot afford to rest Guptill and Anderson at all which they seem to be doing for the first few games.   The Pandya brothers, with so much hype on Hardik, seem to be a joke at best – I still cannot believe how he made it to the Indian team.  Using either Parthiv or Buttler in the playing eleven, both being wicket-keepers are very tricky for them.  Given the present form, they need to have Buttler in the team and definitely Guptill or Simmons, because they need the other two spots for a foreign bowler or an all-rounder – the choice is being between Southee, McCleneghan or Anderson.
  • RCB time and again have always depended on their top three for all their runs, and whenever Gayle hits, they do not have issues.  Even with AB and Kohli firing in the last match, Delhi was able to maul them in their home ground which is famous for even 200 plus scores being chased at ease. After their top 3, which seems to be the same design flaw in this IPL edition with many teams, they seem to be lacking good batters who can hit or finish. But they have certainly strengthened that middle over with Shane Watson which was the spot that Yuvraj was tried for in the previous year. Shane Watson brings them a good all-rounder and if Mitchel Starc is back after his wedding, their pace bowling department looks decent but they do not seem to have any quality Indian bowlers to fill in their other 12 overs. They cannot choose from their good arsenal of foreign bowlers either due to their four limit, but it is good to have Milne, Badree, Weise and Richardson as their replacement for Starc and rotate them around. 
  • Delhi Daredevils is the only team captained by a bowler who ideally bats at 11! They would be batting centered on De Kock and bowling centered around Zaheer and Mishra for their season.  With Zaheer beyond his peak and giving away 50 runs against RCB, this does not tell a good story.  Having the need to play De Kock, they seem to be playing Sanju Samson as a non-wicketkeeper and placing him the outfield is a mistake as he does not seem to have a good arm – throws the ball back like Amla.  They would be playing Carlos Braithwaite and Chris Morris as all-rounder options pretty much throughout, and they need to play JP Duminy in every match as well.  I cannot understand how they can get Imran Tahir to play at all, but they can play Coutere Nile if Braithwaite is not able to. Shreyas Iyer, a star in domestic cricket last season, has started off as a flop and it is time that Mayank Agarwal replaces him.
  • Sunrisers Hyderabad again is a team centered around David Warner – if he fires, any score is reachable. Unfortunately with Yuvraj, Ashish and Kane Williamson all injured presently, they are counting on them to come back to the team soon to raise its level of play – so expect some good matches in the latter half of their rounds. Without these three, this team looks despicable and Shikar Dhawan is adding to their misery.   Henriques is forced to come at three whereas he can do more damage coming in later after Morgan- these two can be their finishers, but unfortunately once Kane is back, only one of them can play.   Rahman and Bhuvie can be their bowling spearhead and Boult can come in anytime to replace Rahman.


  • Gujarat Lions – Having got some of the best fielders, which was one of the key arsenals of CSK, and with their good death bowling pairs, they are a team to reckon with and in my opinion, would make it to the final four, given that they have won three in a row so far. Their foreign players may not change much – Finch, McCullum, Bravo and Faulkner being their four, and if need be, will bring in Smith as an opener somedays and Steyn for Faulkner on other days. They seem to be short of one good Indian bowler with Jaddu, Bravo, Faulkner and Praveen Kumar or Dhawal making the four options.  That fifth spot would be taken up on rotation by a spinner and this could be the target four overs for the opponents to capitalize. Raina has to come to form, and Dinesh Karthik having been ‘undervalued’ this time around, after enjoying two years of surprising glory, needs to bat well.  If other team gets their top three batsmen early, they will not be able to get adequate runs on the board which is something that the opponents would try to exploit and vice versa, if their top three fires, then they are on a way to a 180 plus score which they can defend in most grounds. The good thing they seem to have done is they have used most of their bench players in their first three games on rotation which is good as they would not stay rusted for a long time.
  • Pune Rising Supergiants again will play three of their four foreign players in every match as batters– Faf du Plessis, Steve Smith and Pieterson. The fourth spot of the foreign all-rounder can be either Mitchell Marsh, Albie Morkel or Perera.  Chances of Adam Zampa or Bolland playing in any match look remote.  Rahane and Faf make a fairly consistent opening pair, but they are not major six hitters, which may make their power play overs not that rewarding.  His pace bowlers looks like his liabilities, and if they do not do well, his spinners would also be taken to the cleaners which makes me believe he is going to bleed a lot of runs all the time.  He needs to expect to chase a 180 plus score every time or try to defend a similar score to give his bowlers enough leeway. My opinion is this may be the first time MSD would never lead his team to the final four!  But with Dhoni at the helm, he has ways to make the team click and take them to the playoffs and it is not easy for me to write-him off yet.    Never say Never.
  • KKR unless they mess up, should be going through the final four because they look composed and settled. With Narine ready and ably assisted by Chawla, and with their foreign players mostly making up their other bowling options, they seem to be set.  They seem to placing their bets on Indian players for their batting and if Yousuf Pathan can return to form with some heavy heating, and Andre adding to the fireworks, they need a score of 160 plus to be able to defend with their good bowling.  Their long pole in the tent seems to be their batting, and again, like the Lions, if the opponents take care of their top 3 to 4 batters within a few overs, they would struggle to get a big score. But they seem to be one of the better teams to be able to defend a lower score, thanks to their effective spinners and good pacers.
  • Kings Punjab does lack in their spin department with the likes of Axar Patel leading it with only Sahu and Maxwell as the other spinners. Their batting can be either too good if both the Ms fire or can be bad if both fail – so I think we would see extremes in their scores.  If their opening pair fails, then it puts a lot of pressure on the 2Ms which would curtail their natural game and no fun to watch.   Unfortunately I do not see them making it to the final four.
  • Mumbai’s bowling would be around Bhajji and Bumrah, and batting around Rohit and Buttler. Rayudu has to raise his batting up a notch in the middle and Parthiv has to deliver almost every game.  I would still say that they would find it hard to get a good mix for any given match, and both batting and bowling look vulnerable at best. They need to play a more consistent team henceforth and ensure stability sets in for them to have any chances of a playoff spot. With them playing in one of the smaller stadiums (Wankhede), where a par score would be 180 to 200, they should have this in mind while planning most of their home games. I would still say they do not look  today like a team that would enter the final four.
  • RCB is a team that can hit 200 plus on any given day, given that Kohli and AB are in their best form but if Gayle becomes their liability, they do not seem to have a foreign player to replace him other than David Weise as an all-rounder. So, only the fourth foreign spot is up for toss and they have a wide array of bowlers to choose from.  Binny has to be play and excel as an all-rounder and Chahal has to be more respectable as a bowler for them to see any playoff berth.  This game can be cruel to the two best batters of this format in this world being on the same side, hitting consistently but still may not be able to make it to the playoffs.
  • Delhi seem to have a good bowling attack – Zaheer, Mishra, Morris, Brathwaite/Couture Nile, JP Duminy, Negi and Shami. They can definitely restrict their opponents to a respectable score to defend.  But other than De Kock, the batting lineup is inexperienced as best but with lots of promise – Mayank, Karun, Sanju and Shreyas.   If any one of them strike in any given game, and later the all-rounders in JP Duminy, Brathwaite and Morris blast their way through, I guess they do stand a chance.  Their weakest link is the fitness of Zaheer and his captaincy as this is the first time he is leading a team.  But with Rahul Dravid as their coach now, having been a mentor to RR for quite some years, anything is possible. 
  • Hyderabad’s chances look better if they get Dhawan to perform and the injured players come in. Then their foreign player combination gets set –Warner, Williamson, Morgan/Henriques/Cutting (the last two if they need an all-rounder option) and Rahman/Boult.  Their Indian bowling would be spearheaded by the best T20 pacer this year – Ashish Nehra and ably assisted by Bhuvnesh Kumar and Yuvraj.  There are lots of baggage in their playing eleven – Karn Sharma, Ashish Reddy and Deepak Hooda, which they need to carry on their shoulder. Deepak was supposed to provide the fireworks for them in the middle overs and Naman Ojha has to perform with his bat well.   Remembered they fired late in the season last time around and this seems to be their habit. Even if one of their injured players does not make it, they do not seem to have a chance.

     The third and fourth spot for the playoffs seem to have some choices now – Hyderabad, Pune, DD or RCB, but my choices would be Pune and RCB.   At this point, I may be wrongly writing off Mumbai and definitely writing off Punjab but as I see it, this may be reality. Best results in T20 comes with good batting, excellent fields and tight bowling.   And once you are in the playoffs, the team that performs that day becomes the winner – no statistics can infer winning from the playoff stages.   The best bowling unit though today seems to be Delhi and KKR.

      Remember the T20 format is definitely batting friendly and cruel to the bowlers in the Indian wickets and hence it is important that the team has to have a good six to seven deep batting strength to score well and be able to defend with good bowlers.  A great fielding team is critical for success as this can save about 10 runs every match and make a critical runout happen.   The middle order must have two good all-rounders in any team. The fifth option of a bowler can by design be set weak if the other four bowlers can come with respectable quality. Assume the fifth bowler quota gets hit for even 50 runs in their four overs, if the other four bowlers can still get a max average of 8 runs an over, a score of 170 can be defended or chased if they have a strong batting lineup. But more than one bowling quota of four overs gets hit, and then you are in for trouble.  And if your top order does not perform, again you can be in trouble.

      As a side note, not seeing my favorite team CSK in action, I am supporting RCB for the entertainment value they have provided and are likely to provide this season.  IPL and T20 is all about a three plus hour entertainment which seems to be an effective channel to wind down the summer days.

     The author is from Bengaluru and is a cricket fanatic and an avid blogger.  Some of the blogs related to cricket along with various other domains of his interests can be found in www.rajavenkata.com .   He is a business consultant and a corporate trainer by profession.