The first week of the IPL has produced some close finishes and some performances to remember. It has also told us something about our misplaced beliefs, for most of us thought that the growing list of injured Indian players will affect the viewership, but that hasn’t been the case. Most grounds have been packed to the last seat and the viewership numbers, we’ve been told, are excellent thus far. On the contrary, the last season, in spite of the every Indian star’s availability, saw one of the poorest starts to a new IPL season.
Fans Flocking Towards IPL
Last season of the IPL started on the heels of three months of non-stop T20 cricket, which included World T20 and Asia Cup. The first couple of weeks saw mostly lopsided games and that made matters worse. This year, though, IPL has followed six months of high intensity Test cricket, and that’s created the requisite appetite for the shortest format. Close finishes in the first week itself has just helped its cause. Herein lies the message for the governing bodies of cricket – there’s not just enough scope for all three formats to co-exist but also, each format’s popularity is relying on the other two formats. All will thrive if consumed in moderation.
Let’s get back to this year’s IPL and have a look at different tactics from different teams, and figure out who’s looking hot and who’s not.
Hyderabad, Truly Defending ‘Champions’
SRH has started the season from where they’d left last season with the exception of getting more formidable. Their bowling was always one of the best in the league but with Dhawan, Yuvraj and Henriques firing this season, they are the team to beat. Their qualification to the play-offs shouldn’t be an issue. While the winners have looked good, the runners-up RCB have looked a pale shadow of the unit they were last season. Injuries to Indian players might not have affected the TRP but it has derailed RCB’s campaign even before it had started. They are desperately waiting for Kohli to return and change their fortunes, but it might be too little too late.
KKR’s Lynn Will be Missed
KKR changed their opening combination and with it, their approach to T20 cricket. It was Chris Lynn’s catch in 2014 season that changed their fortunes and it felt like his batting was going to the same this season but for the unfortunate injury. KKR is a unit with depth and therefore are likely to find ways to stay relevant, but his absence will be felt. Not to forget that Russell isn’t there and Shakib won’t be available throughout.
Gujarat Lions have fielded a team of openers and in doing so, seemed to have forgotten the value of playing five proper bowlers. Their record of taking only one wicket in the first two games should serve as a rude reminder to focus on their bowling for the following games. Bravo and Jadeja’s return will give them hope and strength.
Mumbai’s Bowler Picks
MI played with four bowlers in the first game and lost. They played with five proper bowlers in the second and won. While it’s not as simple as it might sound, the writing's on the wall for them – play five proper bowlers in every single game. Most teams are forced to compromise on their batting depth to play the extra bowler, but MI is blessed to have three all-rounders in Pandya brothers and Pollard, and that should dictate a five-bowler strategy every time.
Maxwell Marshalling Troops
KXIP has looked a decent side with roles clearly defined for most of its players. Maxwell has also taken to captaincy like fish to water. They are expected to have better returns than the last season. RPS made some big moves before the season by spending 14.5 crore on Stokes and appointing Smith as their captain. Spending a huge amount to procure only one resource is a tactic laden with risk and its effects are already showing. Their bowling so thin that no amount of shuffling is likely to address their woes. It won’t be surprising if they, once again, finish close to bottom.
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