The first half of the 2017 IPL is done and dusted and the teams have already played a fair number of matches. Mumbai Indians are on top of the points table with 12 points from 8 matches and are followed by Kolkata Knight Riders, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rising Pune Supergiant. Gujarat Lions are at the bottom of the table and their season is all but over.
Though a few teams have already found their right combinations, few are still struggling to get it right and it is stalling their progress in the tournament. Talking about the team combination, the bowling attack of a team is very crucial in getting the right balance. Let us take a look at how the bowling attacks of the eight IPL teams have fared thus far.
#8 Gujarat Lions
At a point in time, Gujarat Lions had picked up 15 wickets conceding 885 runs while the purple cap holder, Bhuvneshwar Kumar picked up the same number of wickets conceding just 108 runs in the same number of matches. Nothing can describe the Gujarat Lions’ bowling unit better than the stat mentioned above.
Barring their best bowler in the tournament, Andrew Tye, who has an economy of 7.50, none of the other bowlers (at least four overs in the tournament) have an economy of less than 8. Tye himself has taken nine wickets in the tournament in just four matches while the other bowlers have accounted for just 16 wickets, something that suggests how poor their bowling line-up is.
Their premier bowler, Dwayne Bravo, who has now been ruled out of the tournament, was supposed to miss just a few matches for the Lions and the team management decided not to get a worthy replacement for the West Indian. Alongside Tye, Basil Thampi is showing a lot of promise for the Lions with some accurate death bowling in spite of conceding runs at the rate of over 9 an over.
Gujarat will need a miracle from their bowlers if they are to salvage some pride over the remainder of the tournament.
#7 Kings XI Punjab
Picking the better attack between Kings XI Punjab and Gujarat Lions is a tough job as both the teams have been let down by their bowlers in spite of boasting a strong batting line-up. Kings XI Punjab just edge out Gujarat as the better unit, thanks to the new lows the Gujarat attack reached this season.
With Sandeep Sharma, Mohit Sharma and Axar Patel being the core of their bowling unit, the likes of Ishant Sharma, Varun Aaron, T Natarajan and KC Cariappa have played the supporting cast. Apart from Axar Patel, the others have been inconsistent and that has given the Kings XI management a lot of headaches. After getting Natarajan for INR 3.2 crores, the team management have failed to use him well.
The fact that Matt Henry is warming the bench is a travesty. There are no reports of him suffering any injury and if he is match-fit, the Kiwi pacer should be the man who should be spearheading the attack instead of just watching the match from the sidelines.
#6 Royal Challengers Bangalore
With the likes of Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers in their line-up, the Royal Challengers Bangalore outfit are yet to win the IPL, mainly due to their bowling attack that has failed to rise to the occasion all these years. The scenario is no different this year as Kohli and his team are yet to find their best bowling combination.
They received a major blow to their top-4 chances when Mitchell Starc was ruled out of the tournament even before the auction but they replaced him with England's Tymal Mills for 12.4 crore INR, but the move didn't make a big difference.
Yuzvendra Chahal has picked up 10 wickets in the IPL, the most by any Royal Challengers Bangalore bowler. The other spinners in the squad, Pawan Negi and Samuel Badree, have taken six wickets apiece. The likes of Stuart Binny and Sreenath Aravind are doing a decent job and the team management will like to see Mills step up and live up to his price tag in the upcoming matches.
#5 Rising Pune Supergiant
To be honest, I have no idea how Rising Pune Supergiant defended totals against the mighty batting line-ups of Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians. Their bowling line-up looks one of the weakest on paper but the bowlers have done a tremendous job.
Ashok Dinda was taken to the cleaners in the three matches he played and ever since he was replaced by Shardul Thakur and Jaydev Unadkat, the Pune bowling attack looked completely different. Imran Tahir, who came in as a replacement for Mitchell Marsh, is Pune’s best bowler as the South African has scalped 12 wickets in the tournament. Ben Stokes, Thakur and Unadkat have picked 16 wickets among them with others chipping in once in a while.
Stokes has been brilliant for Steve Smith’s team at the death overs and will hope to continue his good work in the upcoming matches. They have also found a gem in Washington Sundar, who was decent in his first two matches bowling to the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, David Warner and Jos Buttler in the field restriction overs.
#4 Delhi Daredevils
The Delhi Daredevils team management have raised a lot of eyebrows with their batting order this season, but when it comes to their bowling, they have one of the best line-ups in the tournament. It is evident from the fact that Mohammad Shami, who is one of India’s best bowlers, is not able to get a game for DD along with Shahbaz Nadeem, who did well in the few matches he played.
Spearheaded by skipper Zaheer Khan, the Delhi Daredevils bowling attack has conceded in excess of 170 runs only once in their 6 matches. Chris Morris is their best bowler with 12 wickets in 6 matches at an average of just over 12. Even the other bowlers in the DD bowling unit, including the likes of Pat Cummins, Amit Mishra, Zaheer Khan, have done their job to perfection. Kagiso Rabada and Nadeem, who got to play only a few matches for the Daredevils, also contributed to the team’s cause with the ball.
With the kind of bowling attack they have, they could be a force to reckon with if their batting starts to click.
#3 Sunrisers Hyderabad
Sunrisers Hyderabad are one team that have been winning matches due to their bowlers’ performances over the last 2-3 seasons and this year, things aren’t different as the bowlers, along with their skipper David Warner’s heroics with the bat have ensured the team are in contention for a playoff spot.
It is almost certain that Indian pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar will win the purple cap this season as he has already accounted for 16 wickets in just 7 matches at an average of just 11 and an economy of 6.2 runs per over. He has been backed well by Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan, who is already the front runner for the Emerging Player award. The Afghan International has taken 10 wickets and has troubled the best in the business.
These two are backed well by the supporting cast, the likes of Ashish Nehra, Sid Kaul, Moises Henriques, Bipul Sharma etc. The Hyderabad team are yet to concede over 180 runs in a match this season and Warner will hope that Bhuvi and co. maintain that record in the upcoming matches too.
#2 Kolkata Knight Riders
Unlike in previous seasons, the Kolkata Knight Riders do not have the most balanced team in this year’s IPL as their middle order has got exposed often. However, one thing that has remained the same has been their bowling attack. In spite of missing Andre Russell, the KKR team management did a fantastic job in filling the void left by the West Indian.
The fact that all the bowlers with the exception of Shakib Al Hasan, who has bowled just 3 overs in the tournament, have picked at least a wicket each shows how well they have complemented each other and bowled as a unit.
Unlike the previous seasons, Gambhir has relied more on his pacers and they have repaid the faith their skipper has shown in them. Chris Woakes has the most wickets with 10 but his economy (over 9.3) is something he has to work on. In spite of missing the first few matches, Umesh Yadav and Nathan Coulter-Nile have seven and eight wickets respectively. Their spinners have taken a combined total of 13 wickets with their frontline spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Sunil Narine accounting for six and four respectively.
#1 Mumbai Indians
In spite of their inconsistent batting, Mumbai Indians are still at the top of the 2017 IPL table thanks to their bowling unit that has risen to the occasion. After losing their first match of the season, Rohit Sharma’s men bounced back and went on to win their next six games.
Their bowlers did a fantastic job whenever their team needed them and kept the opposition batsmen at bay. Though MI have only one bowler with at least eight wickets, as a bowling unit, they stand above the rest.
Mitchell McClenaghan, in spite of conceding a lot of runs, has been MI’s best bowler this season followed by Jasprit Bumrah, who is doing a brilliant job for his team in the death overs. Harbhajan Singh has just three wickets to his name in the first six matches, but his economy of 6.04 tells the story of the turbanator’s season. He makes sure that he is controlling the flow of runs whenever he comes on to bowl and makes it easier for the other bowlers to take wickets.
The Pandya brothers’ contributions have made a difference for the outfit from Mumbai and the team management will hope that their star bowler, Lasith Malinga rediscovers his form at the earliest. Malinga coming back to form will make life miserable for the opposition batsmen.