What the big match talent in each IPL side means

The top four teams this year have the maximum series-defining performers

By Jaideep Varma and Jatin Thakkar

Chennai have the maximum tournament-defining performance players.

The most important players in any side are the ones who perform in big match situations – the knockouts (or playoffs) in a tournament and the deciders in bilateral series. They are the ones who relish the big challenges and produce their best when their teams most need it. They are the real gems of any side when their teams go on to lift the trophy – they are the ones who define the tournament (or series, in bilateral encounters) – this is the real legacy of a player.

Amongst the 9 squads in IPL 2012, there were 57 players who have a history of series/tournament-defining performances. It is perhaps not a coincidence that amongst the teams that have made this year’s knockouts, the team with the maximum series/tournament-defining players have made the playoffs – all four of them.

Here is a complete list with the respective teams (arranged as per their positions in the final league table) and the number of players in each team who have had such performances in their T20 careers.

And this is a complete list of each player, with their IPL 2012 IMPACT marked out. Players in bold have not been played at all by their respective franchise in IPL 2012. (All IMPACT numbers on a scale of 0 to 5).

Delhi Daredevils:

Players: Kevin Pietersen (IPL 2012 IMPACT 2.99, 8 matches), Aaron Finch (2.92, 2 matches), David Warner (2.33, 6 matches), Irfan Pathan (1.97, 16 matches), Mahela Jayawardene (1.38, 14 matches), Ross Taylor (1.06, 10 matches), Colin Ingram (0, 0 matches) and Gulam Bodi (0, 0 matches).

Past IPL Series/tournament defining performers: None.

Observation: Pietersen is not available and Finch is unlikely to make it to the final XI but Warner, Taylor, Pathan and Jayawardene will be there (Ingram and Bodi were never tried this year, which may have been a mistake). Sehwag, despite a formidable IPL record (especially this year), has never produced a series/tournament-defining performance in his T20 career. As is the case with Morne Morkel and Umesh Yadav – the bowling mainstays this year. This might just be their moment.

Kolkata Knight Riders:

Players: Gautam Gambhir (3.27, 15 matches), Sunil Narine (2.93, 13 matches), Brendon McCullum (2.70, 11 matches), Jacques Kallis (2.61, 15 matches), Brett Lee (1.79, 9 matches), Manoj Tiwary (1.52, 15 matches), Yusuf Pathan (1.15, 15 matches), RN ten Doeschate (0.98, 3 matches) and Shami Ahmed (0, 0 matches).

Past IPL Series/tournament defining performers: Yusuf Pathan (RR, 2008)

Observation: A batsman (Gambhir), a bowler (Narine) and a wicketkeeper (McCullum) - all have had series/tournament-defining performances in T20 matches and are also leading the team’s current season in terms of impact – that suggests good balance. With Kallis, Tiwary and Pathan also in the mix with their all-round abilities, Kolkata looks an assured team. They could do with additional specialised strength though and that player may well be Brett Lee – an ordinary T20 bowler, except in big matches, when he transforms into an outstanding limited-overs player as he is in ODI cricket. It might be worth playing him and seeing how he goes in at least one of the playoff games (he has had a very decent IPL 2012 too).

Mumbai Indians:

Players: Lasith Malinga (3.00, 13 matches), Kieron Pollard (2.46, 13 matches), James Franklin (2.08, 11 matches), Herschelle Gibbs (2.04, 3 matches), Harbhajan Singh (1.71, 16 matches), Pragyan Ojha (1.49, 9 matches), Munaf Patel (1.48, 12 matches), Davy Jacobs (0.25, 1 match), Aiden Blizzard (0, 1 matches) and Thisara Perera (0, 2 matches).

Past IPL Series/tournament defining performers: Herschelle Gibbs (DC 2009), Pragyan Ojha (DC 2009) and Munaf Patel (RR 2008)

Observation: Malinga and Pollard having hit their groove this IPL might be the best bit of news for Mumbai as they move into the knockouts. How many of the other proven T20 big match players will play in the playoffs is anybody’s guess, given the others who are certainties (like Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu and Dwayne Smith). Their embarrassment of these riches appears to be working against them given the confusion it is causing. If they can sort this out coherently, and manage to achieve the right balance of form and proven big match ability, they might be one of the strongest contenders at the playoff stage.

Chennai Super Kings:

Players: Dwayne Bravo (2.59, 15 matches), Mike Hussey (2.45, 5 matches), Suresh Raina (2.34, 15 matches), MS Dhoni (2.31, 15 matches), Albie Morkel (2.21, 12 matches), R Ashwin (1.69, 15 matches), Doug Bollinger (1.60, 6 matches), Murali Vijay (1.10, 11 matches), S Badrinath (0.98, 11 matches), Shadab Jakati (0.77, 12 matches) and Wriddhiman Saha (0, 3 matches).

Past IPL Series/tournament defining performers: Mike Hussey (2011), Suresh Raina (2010, 2011), MS Dhoni (2010), R Ashwin (2011), Doug Bollinger (2010), Murali Vijay (2011), S Badrinath (2010) and Shadab Jakati (2011).

Observation: Having made it to the knockouts now, through the back-door as it were, Chennai has the best resources when it comes to series/tournament defining players. Quite a few of them are also reasonably high impact players in IPL 2012. Their Achilles Heel this year could be their bowling though, as Ashwin and Jakati have been relatively sedate this year and Bollinger is missing.

Royal Challengers Bangalore:

Players: Andrew McDonald (4.02, 3 matches), Muttiah Muralitharan (2.78, 10 matches), Carl Langeveldt (0, 0 matches), Dirk Nannes (0, 0 matches).

Past IPL Series/tournament defining performers: None.

Observation: Amongst the many blunders Bangalore made this year (to be elaborated upon in the IPL Review next week), not playing their big match players enough has been a significant one (the least amongst all the 9 teams). Not playing Nannes and Langveldt at all had a lot to do with their serious embarrassment of riches when it came to overseas players – the huge bankruptcy of high impact Indian players is what has cost them dearly – but that’s another story. For all Gayle’s insanely consistent performances in the last 2 IPLs, he is yet to procure a single series/tournament-defining performance in his T20 career.  

King XI Punjab:

Players: Azhar Mahmood (3.05, 11 matches), Adam Gilchrist (2.90, 7 matches) and Ryan Harris (2.60, 5 matches).

Past IPL Series/tournament defining performers: Adam Gilchrist (DC 2009) and Ryan Harris (DC 2009).

Observation: Gilchrist’s injury and Mahmood’s late arrival (thanks to visa issues) hurt King XI a lot. Harris played just 5 matches with a high impact, so it was perhaps a mistake not to play him more too.

Rajasthan Royals:

Players: Shane Watson (3.21, 7 matches), Kevon Cooper (2.65, 6 matches), Owais Shah (1.97, 13 matches), Brad Hodge (1.87, 12 matches), Johan Botha (1.72, 11 matches), S Sreesanth (0, 0 matches) and Samad Fallah (0, 0 matches).

Past IPL Series/tournament defining performers: Shane Watson (2008)

Observation: Admittedly Watson missed half the IPL and Cooper got injured but even then, Rajasthan should have made the knockouts given the copious big match talent they had (who were all playing well). Their close defeats in the league phases and inexplicably feeble performances in their last two matches cost them a good opportunity perhaps, given that they had the most big match talent amongst the teams who failed to make it to the playoffs.

Deccan Chargers:

Players: Cameron White (2.53, 13 matches), JP Duminy (2.37, 9 matches), Daniel Harris (1.42, 4 matches) and Darren Bravo (0, 0 matches)

Past IPL Series/tournament defining performers: None.

Observation: They had a low number of series/tournament-defining players to start with and there too, they played just half of them. Darren Bravo never made it to the IPL (due to national engagements) and Daniel Harris was given just 4 matches (which could have been their biggest mistake, but that’s a story for another time). White and Duminy did perform well (as did Dhawan, Steyn and Mishra – none of whom have series/tournament-defining performances in their T20 careers).

Pune Warriors:

Players: Steven Smith (2.29, 15 matches).

Past IPL Series/tournament defining performers: None.

Observation: They just did not have the high impact talent required. Period. Steve Smith played adequately enough but they were always likely to struggle as a team, and they did so spectacularly after the mirage of a brief initial surge.


Now that these four teams have reached the playoffs, at least on the big match parameter we can form certain impressions. If we take series/tournament-defining performances with big match performances which did not necessarily lead to their team winning the tournament, the breakup is Delhi 10, Kolkata 10, Mumbai 15, Chennai 14. It is not the only parameter with which to determine their true strengths (that piece will come out tomorrow, so watch this space), but on big match ability, Mumbai and Chennai have the most talent to prevail in the playoffs (obviously only one of them can reach the final). One thing is for sure – it is a different ballgame now - it will be a different tournament from tomorrow.  

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