As the curtain comes down on another enthralling edition of Indian Premier League Cricket, I thought I would write a swift review of each team’s respective performance and offer a few thoughts on how I think they could address their weaknesses in order to come back stronger for IPL11. I’ll begin with the curious case of :
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Summary: Disaster. Receiving the wooden spoon should never have been a possibility for a team who can boast talents such as Kohli, De Villiers and Gayle at the top of their order, yet somehow it happened.
Positives: It cannot get any worse.
How to Improve
Recruitment: A huge overhaul is necessary in all departments, but in particular RCB’s batting looked woefully exposed throughout IPL10, averaging just 116 runs per innings and never successfully chasing a target. The return of Lokesh Rahul should help, but (Kohli aside) some top order dependability is absolutely vital. Though aging, if Michael Klinger could be tempted to make a return to the IPL after a 7 year absence, his trademark consistency could prove to be a huge asset to Bangalore. Disappointingly, now may be the time to call an end to Gayle’s glory days in Bengaluru.
Philosophy: Once their overhaul is complete, Bangalore need to pick a side and stick with it, giving them ample time to gel and flourish. Chopping and changing regularly, especially in the wake of regular defeats, just serves to weaken morale furthermore and left the Challengers looking a shadow of their former selves. If they can also devise a method to restore Chinnaswamy to the batting paradise it once was, their batting line-up should find it a lot easier to display their sublime talent and entertain the partisan crowd once more.
Summary: As their heavily stacked top order consistently failed to fire, Gujarat’s fate was quickly realised and they were unable to halt their slide down the table.
Positives: Suresh Raina was yet again a model of consistency, helping himself to 442 runs across 14 innings. Dinesh Karthik also chipped in with a handy 361 at a strike rate of nearly 140.
How to Improve
Recruitment: I think this part writes itself. Stop.Focussing.On.Batsmen. Conceding an average of 165 runs per game, and never successfully defending a total (0/6) the need for better quality bowling is obvious to everyone. Injuries to Dwayne Bravo and AJ Tye were always going to hinder the Lions in this department, but these could arguably have been foreseen and planned for accordingly. A disciplined seamer to compliment Jadeja is a must; perhaps if Mustafizur Rahman continues to be overlooked for SRH, he could be exactly what the doctor ordered.
Philosophy: Picking a more balance side should increase Gujarat’s chances of success hugely. I would also like to see Aaron Finch take up a position higher in the order as he can be devastating in the powerplay alongside McCullum.
Summary: Yet another disappointing campaign for the Daredevils, as initial promise faded fast the lack of an “X-Factor” overseas player became apparent and meant Delhi were often average at best.
Positives: Strong performances from their young Indian contingent in Samson, Iyer and Pant.
How to improve
Recruitment: This may sound strange, but with Glenn Maxwell seemingly at loggerheads with KXIP mentor Virender Sehwag, he could become the ideal man to project Delhi into the modern T20 game, and with a point to prove Glenn Maxwell may be the man to return the glory days to the capital. Alternatively, the return of Quinton De Kock and JP Duminy may help to give the Daredevils some much needed aggressive impetus.
Philosophy: As touched on above, Delhi need to revamp their mind-set and play in a far more aggressive manner, rather than leaving their explosive batsmen a few balls at the end – why not open with a pinch hitter? A promotion for Chris Morris is also long overdue.
Kings XI Punjab
Summary: Despite an improvement on their last campaign, KXIP will still be slightly disappointed having fallen short of the promised land of the play-offs. After their final game loss to RPS, Virender Sehwag lambasted the perceived failures of overseas batsmen in a scathing assessment of the team’s performance.
Positives: Hashim Amla showed all of his experience as he picked up 420 runs from 10 innings opening the batting. Indian bowlers Sandeep Sharma, Axxar Patel and Mohit Sharma contributed the vast majority of Kings wickets with a healthy return of 45 between them.
How to improve
Recruitment: In a similar manner to Gujarat Lions, KXIP could do with some overseas assistance with their bowling. Fitness permitting, Mitchell Starc could be the perfect addition to spearhead the Kings attack and should find himself feeling at home with the rest of the Australian delegation. An alternative, cheaper option would be the quietly impressive Big Bash performer Jason Behrendorff.
Philosophy: If he is to stay, Glenn Maxwell could be utilised a lot more effectively than he has been in this year’s IPL. Though his return of 310 runs striking at 175 is usually not to be sniffed at, his high score of just 47 is uncharacteristic for a man who can win matches almost single-handedly. On the opposite side of the coin, his bowling may have been a little underutilised with respectable figures of 19-0-125-7 resulting in an economy rate of just 6.57 for the tournament, indicating that Maxwell’s bowling may become a lot more than the part-time profession it has been previously.
Summary: The reigning champions will be disappointed not to have gone further than the eliminator in IPL10, but in all honesty they can count themselves a little unlucky having lost by a narrow margin to a solid KKR outfit.
Positives: David Warner and Bhuvi Kumar. As always. Rashid Khan also made an impressive IPL debut spinning his way to 17 wickets.
How to improve
Recruitment: Boasting both the purple and orange cap winners, Sunrisers Hyderabad already have a very capable squad, and as such a major personnel overhaul is not really required. They will certainly be hoping to make better use of the hugely talented Mustafizur Rahman next time around and could also look to include Chris Jordan on surfaces that are less susceptible to spin. As Yuvraj Singh is not getting any younger, it may serve SRH well to look for an upcoming power hitter to bed in for the future. Andre Russell anyone?
Philosophy: Another source of aggression at the top of the order may prove hugely beneficial for Sunrisers Hyderabad, particularly on occasions whereby the colossus David Warner does not fire. As hinted at earlier, their overseas seamers could also be implemented in a more effective manner. It may only take a small tweak for Sunrisers to regain their crown.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Summary: In a similar fashion to SRH, KKR shouldn’t be too disappointed with their performance, having played some excellent cricket throughout IPL10 and falling only to a hugely impressive Mumbai outfit.
Positives: Leading by example, Gautam Gambhir notched up nearly 500 valuable runs for the boys in purple. Their strategy of promoting Sunil Narine also came to fruition on numerous occasions and the absence of Andre Russell was not as cataclysmic as some had speculated.
How to improve:
Recruitment: Make no bones about it, a fully fit Chris Lynn would have fired KKR to a higher table position and possibly even all the way to glory. A tough decision will need to be made as to whether they bring superstar Andre Russell back into the fold or stick with the Birmingham Bears pair Colin De Grandhomme and Chris Woakes, who performed respectably in place of the West Indian all-rounder.
Philosophy: For me, KKR have been one of the most progressive teams in the IPL in terms of strategy, particularly with regards their fluid top order. My main concern for KKR would be their use of the Eden Gardens pitch; once a spinner’s haven, this year it played as a more balanced surface which served to negate Kolkata’s traditionally invaluable home advantage. Their impeccable chasing record was also tainted during this transition.
Rising Pune Supergiant
Summary: So near yet so far; it is fair to say that Rising Pune Supergiant surpassed the expectations of most and an end of season surge ensured that they reached their maiden IPL final. Unfortunately however, they came up fractionally short against a Mumbai side with a wealth of knockout experience.
Positives: The emergence of Jaydev Unadkat and Washington Sundar as well as Tahir’s initial performances meant that Pune were arguably the most impressive side in the tournament with the ball. They also became the masters of taking games deep and getting over the line when the odds were against them, even if this strategy did not quite pay dividends in the final.
How to improve:
Recruitment: The late move to bring Imran Tahir into the fold was a masterstroke and Ben Stokes certainly repaid some of his price tag with all round fireworks, nevertheless Pune have a fantastic young Indian base from which they can complement with overseas players (Tripathi,Sundar,Unadkat,Thakur). The addition of an aggressive overseas opener such as Jason Roy could prevent Pune consistently finding themselves needing 15 an over for the last 5 overs with Dhoni and Stokes at the crease. Then again, where’s the fun in that?!
Philosophy: In a similar way to KKR, with top level spinners such as Washington Sundar and Imran Tahir/Adam Zampa to choose from, Pune could benefit immensely from playing regularly on surfaces conductive to spin bowling. More top order aggression should also negate the responsibility of lower order batsmen to score at eye watering rates.
Summary: After an almost perfect season with the title coming back to Wankhede, everybody associated with Mumbai can be rightly proud of their performance. A joy to behold.
Positives: Hugely impressive efforts from their young explosive talents the Pandya brothers plus Bumrah guided by the experience of skipper Rohit Sharma, provided Mumbai with a solid spine from which others were able to build and flourish.
How to improve:
Recruitment: Some may say that Mumbai should be looking to recruit a younger overseas seam attack to replace the likes of Malinga and Johnson, however the experience of this pair was absolutely critical to the Indians getting over the line in the final game against Pune. That said, I would love to see Mumbai try and develop another exciting, raw quick bowler such as Mark Wood who could gain some incredible insight from the greats of Wankhede and perhaps be used in rotation with the aforementioned pair. Harbhajan Singh should also prove to be an excellent mentor for any up-coming spinners that they may pick up going forward.
Philosophy: Having run out as deserving IPL10 champions, playing devastatingly effective cricket throughout the tournament, it is difficult to see how Mumbai could advance their philosophy from this point. They largely played to the strengths of their team and even had time to experiment with both chasing and defending once their play-off spot was assured midway through the season, something which would have no doubt aided their performances in the knockout stages.