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IPL Auctions 2017: A Player For Your Team

by iplgeek 0 Comments

Ben Stokes can most could have an extraordinary impact on many franchise — but who will buy him? (Image from espncricinfo.com)

We are now just hours away from the eagerly anticipated IPL Auctions for 2017. This auction is the 3rd “remedial” (as I like to call it) auction, where teams aren’t looking as much to build a new side (on average), but are rather looking to secure the few players they need to strengthen their weaknesses from the previous season. With some of England’s finest limited overs players making their debut in the IPL Auctions, it will bring an extra dimension of interest.

This article will focus on one player who could impact each franchise the most. This does not mean that player is the only player who could make an impact, nor that this is the only player the franchise can buy; just the one who could impact them the most. Hence, if you want to know which player could certainly turn around (or boost) your team’s fortunes, read on:

Sunrisers Hyderabad: Johnny Bairstow

Came Close: Ben Stokes, Corey Anderson

While David Warner was second only to Virat Kohli last season, the SRH middle order struggled to register runs, and this flaw came dangerously close to choking them in the Final, before Ben Cutting did his part. Not only does Bairstow bring strength to that middle order, but also brings a brand of aggression that was not seen enough in the Sunrisers lineup barring Warner. In addition, his ability as a wicket-keeper allows SRH to be flexible with Naman Ojha and the rest of their Indian batting contingent. He narrowly edges out Ben Stokes and Corey Anderson because the Sunrisers’ bowling is already above and beyond, and because of the presence of technically similar all-rounders in Moises Henriques and Ben Cutting.

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Tymal Mills

Came Close: Trent Boult, Ben Stokes

RCB’s bowling has always been an issue, and is even more in light of Mitchell Starc’s recent departure from the side. While RCB do posses other bowling reserves – such as Tabraiz Shamsi, Adam Milne and Samuel Badree – injuries have not been kind to them, and hence having the insurance of a frontline seamer will be invaluable for the Challengers. Mills also worked with RCB’s head coach Daniel Vettori whilst playing for the Brisbane Heat earlier this year, strengthening his appeal to the side. He narrowly edges ahead of Boult on stats and base price. Stokes is also a strong contender, but the presence of Shane Watson and RCB’s plethora of Indian batting talent edges him out.

Gujarat Lions: Ben Stokes

Came Close: Ishant Sharma, Irfan Pathan

Gujarat’s only major problem in a table-topping debut season was the fact that their bowling attack struggled to defend totals – they won only the solitary game against the Delhi Daredevils batting first (by 1 run). This is a problem further exacerbated by the injury to Dwayne Bravo, which puts question marks on his participation during the season. Stokes could directly remedy the problem with Bravo, and contribute to the Lions’ smothering, all-out aggressive batting approach. While their Indian bowling contingent is something they will most certainly have to look into, Stokes’ bowling can also aid

Kolkata Knight Riders: Patrick Cummins

Came Close: Chris Woakes, Irfan Pathan

KKR essentially let go of what is essentially their entire overseas pace contingent ahead of the auction, perhaps looking to pick up one or two quicks in this auction to replace them. Now, with Andre Russell banned over doping charges, the Knight Riders will need to take that into account as well while rebuilding. Pat Cummins functions as a perfect platform for that. While his 2 crore base price is slightly high, his ability to throw down absolute thunderbolts, coupled with some skillful hitting at the back end of the innings, makes him the ideal starting pick for the Knight Riders. While there are other bowlers and bowling all-rounders in the pool, Cummins’ relative bowling strength to others with a similar batting capability sets him apart.

Mumbai Indians: Mohammed Shahzad

Came Close: Jason Roy, Johnny Bairstow

Mumbai have had trouble with opening combinations since the days of Sachin Tendulkar, and 2016 was no different. Like the Lions, they too struggled to defend totals, not due to poor bowling, but due to a batting lineup that didn’t seize enough initiative up front, like they did in their victorious 2015 campaign. In fact, one could go as far as to say that the injury to Lendil Simmons hurt them more than the injury to Lasith Malinga. Mohammed Shahzad could help solve this problem. His fearless hitting at the top could set a base for Rohit Sharma, and later the finishers in Kieron Pollard and Jos Buttler, to give MI some truly unassailable totals. The fact that he offers another wicket-keeping option edges him slightly ahead of his closest competition.

Delhi Daredevils: Ben Stokes

Came Close: Angelo Matthews, Corey Anderson

Delhi Daredevils’ campaign was a truly remarkable one, built on a strong backbone of India’s youth, supported eagerly by upcoming stars from all over the world. Constant (and sometimes unnecessary) tinkering is one of the possible reasons as to why they did not make a semifinal spot. Ben Stokes can settle the squad, and hopefully form a solid base around whom the Daredevils can construct the rest of their side. Matthews and Anderson would be great for this too, but current form favors Stokes. In addition, Delhi’s auction purse is second only to KXIP, meaning that they will have an edge should the bidding get heated.

Rising Pune Supergiants: Mohammed Nabi

Came Close: Corey Anderson, Ben Stokes

Rising Pune Supergiants have a strong top, but lacked depth in their batting. In addition, Pune unfortunately failed to fully utilize their spin resources, shown as Adam Zampa did not play until the back-end of the tournament, and R Ashwin was criminally under-bowled. However, Nabi would be able to remedy both problems at once, adding a few runs lower down the order and be a valuable spin resource. This would allow the Supergiants to exploit the spin of their home pitch, and by doing so build a side similar to the KKR side that won the 2012 IPL. Stokes and Anderson are equally competant, but Nabi’s spin – and the presence of Mitchell Marsh – mean they take second place.

Kings XI Punjab: Ben Stokes

Came Close: Corey Anderson, Angelo Matthews

Punjab’s poor performance in 2016 was mainly attributed to the fact that they lacked an “X-factor” player; someone who delivers sensational performances that single-handedly bring victory, inspiring their teammates in the process. This was reflected as they released only 4 players – 3 overseas players and one costly Indian player. This shows that KXIP have very specific players in mind, and are willing to spend heavily on them. It would not be a radical leap of faith to assume that Stokes is most certainly one of those specific players. While the other two will also likely be on KXIP’s list, Stokes is most definitely a forerunner.

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IPL Semifinals: Who Stands Where?

by iplgeek 0 Comments

CSK have been brilliant yet again, and are the first team to be guaranteed a semifinal spot. (image from http://www.cricketcountry.com/)

IPL Season has just flown by, and we’re already approaching the playoffs. The points table stand as follows:

  1. Chennai Super Kings (16 points, NRR = +0.646)
  2. Royal Challengers Bangalore (15 points, NRR = +1.037)
  3. Kolkata Knight Riders (15 points, NRR = +0.315)
  4. Sunrisers Hyderabad (14 points, NRR = -0.033)
  5. Mumbai Indians (14 points, NRR = = -0.259)
  6. Rajasthan Royals (14 points, NRR = +0.027)
  7. Delhi Daredevils (10 points,, NRR = -0.049)
  8. Kings XI Punjab (6 points, NRR = -1.425)

As you can see, the points table is quite close. Everyone in the first 6 spots is within a difference of two points. Hence, these last few league matches promise to be quite exciting. Every team is playing, so whether you want to be there as your team makes the semis, or you support DD and/or KXIP, You’ll want to know the schedule for the next 2 days (last two of the league stage):

  • Today (Saturday, May 16 2015):
    1. KXIP vs. CSK at Mohali (4:30 PM IST)
    2. RR vs. KKR at Mumbai (7:30 PM IST)
  • Tomorrow (Sunday, May 17th 2015)
    1. RCB vs. DD at Bangalore
    2. SRH vs. MI at Hyderabad

Every one of these matches can be important for you (again, unless you support DD and/or KXIP), even if your team is not playing. But how do you know what matches are important? Who should you be supporting? Well, here I’ll do some analysis of crucial matches for each team, who you should be rooting for in them. I’ll also be doing a little summary on what each team needs to do to qualify.

 

1. Chennai Super Kings.

What they need to do to qualify: Nothing (they’re already in)

Crucial match: KXIP vs. CSK (CSK to win, if you didn’t figure that out)

With 16 points in 13 games, CSK have assured themselves a place in the semifinals. Not even the most absurd and unlikely results could bring them any lower than 4th place. However, the men in yellow would still like to take a swing at the bottom-placed KXIP side to finish with 18 points, and gain an assured spot in the top two.

2. Royal Challengers Bangalore

What they need to do to qualify: Almost nothing (just don’t lose to Delhi by a ridiculously large margin).

Crucial match: RR vs. KKR (KKR to win)

RCB have made quite a comeback in this IPL. After stuttering with 2 points in 4 games, they’ve made a dramatic turn-around to lose only 2 of their next 9 (one washout). Their massive-margin victories have yielded great fruits now as their staggering +1.037 net run rate gives them a massive edge over KKR, who also have the same number of points. Because of this, they are all but assured a spot in the semifinals. If KKR win in their game vs. RR, then RCB will be through, regardless of their clash vs. DD. If RR win however, RCB will just need to make sure that their NRR does not drop below that of KKR as they take on DD in order to qualify. However, considering that KKR’s net run rate is roughly 0.7 below that of RCB (and will sink even lower if they lose to RR), this is extremely unlikely to happen. Nonetheless, RCB will be eyeing to land a killer blow on the Daredevils, and book their place in the top two with 17 points.

3. Kolkata Knight Riders

What they need to do to qualify: Beat Rajasthan.

Crucial match: RR vs. KKR (KKR to win)

The defending champions have not run through as smoothly as they did last year. Nonetheless, they are still in the top 4, and will be eyeing to seal that semifinal berth. To get this, the equation is simple: beat Rajasthan. If they were to lose, however, they would need to pray for a rainwash in the SRH-MI match, lest they be knocked out by the winner of that game. If they beat RR, they’ll be hoping for DD to beat RCB so they can seal a top two spot.

4. Sunrisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians

What they need to do to qualify: Beat the other one.

Crucial matchSRH vs. MI (whoever you want to qualify must win).

Both MI and SRH are in a very similar situation, so I thought it would be convenient to group them together. Both have 14 points, but SRH is above MI courtesy of a higher net run rate. SRH have been shaky throughout the tournament, but have managed to win games with fair regularity. MI on the other hand, started of disastrously, losing 4/4, but then made quite the turnaround to lose only twice in their next 9 games. The equation for these two teams is simple too: winner qualifies, period. Neither of these teams has a chance of making the top two, however. The last thing either of them would want is a rainwash, as it would mean that neither of them would qualify. The only exception would be if Rajasthan beat KKR by a enough to push their NRR below that of SRH, in which case the men from Hyderabad would qualify.

5. Rajasthan Royals

What they need to do to qualify: Beat KKR

Crucial matchRR vs. KKR (RR to win).

It’s really surprising how Rajasthan managed to get themselves into this position. They won their first 5 games, but could only gather a further 4 points in their next 8 and are now 6th. Their equation to qualify (like that of many others above) is very simple: beat KKR. If they don’t, they’re out, and if they do they get in. They don’t have a hope of making the second place spot either, so they’ll just want to try for a win here, and nothing more.

6. Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils

What they need to do to qualify: Wait until the next IPL (no hope).

Crucial matchRCB vs. DD and KXIP vs. CSK (for pride)

It’s really sad to see KXIP end the way they did. The batting lineup that scored 200 four times last year has failed miserably, and their bowling attack has been dismal. They won more matches in their first 5 last year than they did in 13 this year, and now it’s all done for last year’s finalists. For Delhi, there was some fun to be had, as they pulled off some truly remarkable victories and made some brilliant performances. However, they just couldn’t keep the fire blazing long enough, and are now at 7th. They have nothing to play for now but pride, so hopefully they’ll come out all guns blazing to give their fans something to cheer about.

 

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Bowler Banzai: What Happened to Malinga and Narine?

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Lasith Malinga and Sunil Narine (image from ibnlive.in)

Lasith Malinga and Sunil Narine (image from ibnlive.in)

IPL 2015 is 32 matches in, and is thrilling as ever. We’ve seen some excellent cricket from some of the best. However, there have been some shockers so far as well. Most of all, Sunil Narine and Lasith Malinga. Malinga, despite his 10 wickets – four of which came in his last game against the Sunrisers – has been quite expensive, going at 7.96 runs to the over, an economy rate which – for someone of Malinga’s calibre – is just not up to par. Narine, on the other hand, has played 5 matches thus far, and taken 2 wickets – something he made double of in his very first match in the 2014 IPL (and Brad Hogg equalled in his first over against CSK last night).

Now Malinga and Narine are two of those bowlers who’s good form we just seem to take for granted, and to see them fail is something of an “end of the world” scenario. Malinga, with 129 wickets, is by far the highest wicket-taker of the tournament, outstripping his nearest competitor (Amit Mishra; 109 wickets) by 20 wickets. Narine, in his 4-year IPL career, has achieved nearly everything a bowler could hope to achieve in the IPL (except the elusive Purple Cap award) – a hat-trick, a 5-er, Sachin Tendulkar’s wicket, you name it. So what could be causing these greats to look so mediocre so far in this tournament?

For Narine, I think we could probably accredit that to his bowling action change. Last October, he was suspended following reports of an illegal bowling action, and this subsequently led to his not being selected for the 2015 World Cup – where he was missed dearly by the West Indies lineup. He was cleared in time for the IPL, but the first delivery he served up in the tournament was a juicy full-toss just outside off, which an in-form Rohit Sharma gladly crashed through the covers for a boundary. He was good, but couldn’t quite bring out that magical bowling that we associate with Sunil Narine. Malinga, on the other hand, looked quite off-color even in the World Cup, where he managed only 12 wickets in his 63.4 overs, and at a rather expensive 5.56 runs to the over. Some have said that his age of brilliance is coming to it’s end, but the thing is that he has still shown some brilliance. A maiden to Chris Gayle whilst defending 209. A wonderful spell of 4/23 to puncture the Sunrisers Hyderabad. These things have shown that he isn’t completely dead just yet, and has still got some juice in him.

Now what has happened to Narine and Malinga? Is it something technical, or is it just the law of averages catching up with them? Either way, we must acknowledge that every cricket player goes through bad patches in his or her career, and it’s how you’re able to pick yourself up and rise from those bad patches that truly defines who you are as a cricket player. And knowing Malinga and Narine, I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before they’re back in their usual legendary composures.

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IPL Auctions 2015 – Team Strategy

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The auction will take place on the 16th of February, this Monday. (Image from iplt20.com)

The World Cup has started, and the cricket world has now sprung to life. However, on the horizon we have another important event in the cricketing world – the IPL Auctions. Though not a cricket match per se, the auction is something that I personally look forward to every year, as it not only gives the thrill of seeing massive players being sold for heists of money, but also presents a chance for us to gain a deeper insight into team strategies and plans. Each team walks into the auction with different needs and theories, so who they go after will be interesting to see. Here’s who I think they should/will go after. Keep in mind that to keep this structured, I’ve suggested only a few of the many possibilities for players that fit into my frame.

Delhi Daredevils (payroll: ₹39,75,00,000)

Players to buy: Hashim Amla, Angelo Matthews, Trent Boult

In the last year, Delhi Daredevils have been much like an anxious Asian before his SATs: Anxious, unstable, and trying every possible method his money can buy him. Last year, after some belligerent spending, they landed up with 23 players, including Kevin Pietersen and Dinesh Karthik. However, following their 8th place finish, they released 13 of those players (including KP and DK). First and foremost, I think they need a stable leader. A centerpiece around whom the franchise can not only build a new team, but also around whom the team can rally. For this, I think that Hashim Amla and Angelo Matthews would be excellent. Both are proven leaders, and are known for their ability to lead from the front. Amla could provide the stability up front that Delhi so desperately lacked, and Matthews could chip in with his all round abilities, and give more stability in both departments. In addition, I think Delhi just need a good frontline pacer. For this, Trent Boult would be a good option. He’s got an excellent pace, and can provide that “oomph” factor to the bowling lineup.

Sunrisers Hyderabad (payroll: ₹21,05,00,000)

Players to buy: Mahela JaywardeneKane WilliamsonMichael Beer

Sunrisers had a lukewarm season last year, with some good wins and terrible losses. Their main concern, as with the Daredevils, will be leadership. Shikhar Dhawan did not quite capitalize on his opportunity. Hence, someone like Mahela Jaywardene would be excellent for the job. In addition, we must take into account the fact that the Sunrisers top order was not quite at it’s full potency throughout the tournament. Kane Williamson could help solidify that gap, in addition to providing an off-spin option to remedy the gap created by Amit Mishra’s releasing. This is also where Michael Beer would be handy. The left-arm spinner would be useful for spearheading the attack along with Dale Steyn, especially seeing as Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s form has been slipping

Chennai Super Kings (payroll: ₹4,80,00,000)

Player to buy: Trent Boult/Adam Milne

The Chennai Super Kings are unarguably IPL’s most successful franchise. 7 semifinals in 7 tournaments (with 5 finals and 2 victories) is a stat that speaks for itself. Their side for 2014 was pretty well set, except for the fact that their fast-bowling lineup was weak. Yes, they picked up wickets, but they simply never had the potency to rip through and sting opposing batsmen. For this, all they would need is someone like Trent Boult or Adam Milne, who can clock 140-odd speeds and “crash it in” to opposing batsmen.

Royal Challengers Bangalore (payroll: ₹20,80,00,000)

Players to buy: Trent Boult, Nathan Lyon, Angelo Matthews.

RCB had many problems with their side last year. Their batting was inconsistent, and their bowling was mediokre. Overall, though, I think it’s their bowling and team balance that need the most work. Especially after Yuvraj’s departure, they are in desperate need of more spinners (they have 2 pro spinners at the moment). Nathan Lyon would help here. Trent Boult could partner with Mitchell Starc to give the RCB fast-bowling a potent sting, and Angelo Matthews could contribute to both departments, giving the side balance.

Kings XI Punjab (payroll: ₹12,60,00,000)

Player to buy: Kane Williamson

Punjab are one of the most settled franchises of them all. The only thing I think they need is a man who can play a calm innings at the front amidst the bludgeoning of Virender Sehwag and Glenn Maxwell. Kane Williamson would be good for that.

Mumbai Indians (payroll: ₹10,00,50,000)

Players to buy: Kane Williamson, Nathan Lyon,

Mumbai started the IPL in a less-than-remarkable fashion, but fought hard to make it to the semifinals in an almost unreal way. Nonetheless, Mumbai would want to address the fact that they have some chinks in the batting lineup. Kane Williamson would be a good, flexible batsman who could address this. In addition, he and Nathan Lyon could help bolster the MI spin unit, which didn’t quite look at it’s prime last year.

Kolkata Knight Riders (payroll: ₹13,20,00,000)

Player to buy: Trent Boult/Adam Milne

Kolkata won IPL 2014 and technically haven’t lost an IPL match since May 5th of last year. Hence, it is pretty safe to say that their team composure is in good shape. However, it would be handy for them to have a backup for Morne Morkel. Someone like Trent Boult or Adam Milne would be good for this.

Rajasthan Royals (payroll: ₹12,75,00,000)

Player to buy: Gurinder Sandhu

To be honest I don’t think Rajasthan need much improvement. Their side compusure looks wonderful, and it was mostly unnecessary and ill-timed tinkering with the lineup that led to their premature exit from the tournament just before the semifinals. However, I would love to see someone like Gurinder Sandhu bowling for them, as he would gain ample experience working with the Royals, a team known for nurturing the young.

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IPL 2015: The Released XI

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Amongst the released players is Yuvraj Singh, the most expensive player of the 2014 Auctions (image from sportskeeda.com).

In the last few days, we’ve seen a lot of players being released prior to the 2015 IPL. In past seasons, this releasing window has been a usually uneventful time, where franchises release a few random low-price players to free their roster a bit. However, this time we’ve seen a massive movement, with some really big names hitting the released list. I made a playing XI out of these released players, fitting in the biggest names.

1. Murali Vijay (DD): Vijay had a pretty lean run for Delhi in the 2014 season, with a paltry 207 runs at an average of 18.81. That, and his massive price tag of 5 crore rupees, is what probably led to the franchise letting him go. However, his scores of 53 and 99 in the first test Down Under indicates that the Daredevils might have missed a trick by letting him go.

2. Aaron Finch (SRH): Finchy had a lukewarm run this IPL, with 309 runs at an average of 28.09. Nonetheless, he was never quite the impact player that the Sunrisers wanted, as they ended up slipping to 6th place.

3. Jacques Kallis (KKR): Well, to be completely honest, we cannot say that we didn’t see this one coming. KKR pretty much gave up on Kallis 8 matches into the tournament, and preferred to run in with Ryan Ten Doeschate as the fourth overseas player along with Morne Morkel, Sunil Narine and Shakib Al Hassan. Injuries to other players meant that he got a few games in the Champions League, where he played a memorable knock against the Hobart Hurricanes to take KKR into the final, but I think that the Golden Era of Jacques Kallis in IPL is pretty much over.

4. Kevin Pietersen (DD): Cricket is a lovely game, but can have a terrible twist. Kevin Pietersen’s fate is just another example of that. Prior to IPL 7, he had been dropped by the English side, but offered a massive Rs. 9 crore deal from the Delhi Daredevils, and made their skipper shortly after. It was the perfect chance for Kevin Pietersen to lash the whip at the ECB. However, this story turned out to have a rather naturalistic twist to it, as his side finished at the bottom of the table, and Pietersen himself scored only 294 runs. And now, come the reformation era, he’s been released, and will most likely be up for grabs in the IPL Auctions 2015 (where the Daredevils may seek to buy him back at a cheaper price).

5. Yuvraj Singh (RCB): In the ICC World Cup 2011, Yuvraj Singh was India’s hero, as he seemed to be able to score runs and take wickets by the sheer power of his will. Now, with the 2015 World Cup just a few months away, things are very different for the Prince of India. He’s was not included in the Indian World Cup Probables’ list, and has now been dropped from the RCB roster. Despite starting off the 2014 IPL with a blazing half century, he had a lean period that stretched through most of the tournament, before he finally brought out some fireworks that brought some light to what was otherwise was a dismal exit for the Royal Challengers. I’m guessing that it was not poor performance that caused the RCB management to make their decision as much as the fact that he consumed 14 crores of their auction money, which means that they may well try and buy him back in the auction.

6. Brad Hodge (RR): Since his acquisition in IPL 2012, Brad Hodge has undoubtedly been one of Rajasthan’s most valuable players. Nonetheless, last season Steve Smith showed much more potency that he did, and that is why I think they dropped him. Still, I think it’s a queer option, as Shane Watson’s dastardly form last year showed that RR would be well advised to have a backup batsman on the side. He is still one of the best T20 batsmen in the world today, and I’m sure that some team will be willing to pay big bucks for him, even if it isn’t the Royals.

7. Dinesh Karthik (DD): I think that Dinesh Karthik’s sacking was probably the saddest decision of the lot, along with Yuvraj. This is perhaps because of the fact that he was one of the few batsmen who did something for Delhi. He was the only batsman to cross 300 runs apart from JP Duminy, and while he was understandably not his 100%, he did more than most of the other batsmen. Like in the case of Yuvraj, I think that this is more related to the fact that he cost the franchise 12.5 crores to hire that led them to their harsh decision, and I’m sure they will try and get him back ahead of IPL 2015.

8. Darren Sammy (SRH): In 2013, it was Sammy’s two sixes that pulled the Sunrisers into a semifinal berth in their debut season. In IPL 2014, he managed to hit just six more sixes than that in the 108 runs he scored. He was dismal in this season, and failed to make the impact that inspired the Sunrisers to fight to buy him back in the 2014 Auctions. It was probably just the fact that Shikhar Dhawan was a lousy captain and Moises Henriques’ indifferent form that kept him in the playing XI for most of the tournament. Overall, Sammy will need to buck up and try to redeem himself with his new franchise in 2015.

9. Irfan Pathan (SRH): Yusuf had a bit of a blast towards the end of IPL 2015, but it was rather lean for the other Pathan. Irfan barely managed to make an impact with the bat, and was barely trusted with the ball. This is undoubtedly the awakening period in IPL, and the fate of Irfan confirms it. Franchises are no longer willing to express sympathy to a player because they’re Indian; if you don’t perform, you’re out. Hopefully this is a wakeup call for Irfan, and a reminder to some other players.

10. Amit Mishra (SRH): I must admit that I never saw this one coming. Amit Mishra had a terrible season last year (7 wickets from 10 games with an E/R of 9.06), not to mention this hilarious incident. Again, I think it’s a wake up call for players who’ve been coasting on IPL contracts just because they’re capped Indian players. It’s a blunt reminder that talent, not nationality is what matters in the world of cricket.

11. Pragyan Ojha (MI): The irony of MI releasing Pragyan Ojha is just so sweet that I cannot help but post it. MI picked Ojha with their RTM card, which they could have used on Glenn Maxwell or Dwayne Smith (who finished first and second on the MVP list respectively). Then, he ends up bowling so terribly (4 wickets in 12 matches, E/R 8.26) that they throw him out. It’s just so sad for MI (more for their fans). Nonetheless, Ojha was pretty bad, so we must say that MI were justified in throwing him out.

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The IPL Trading Window – MI

Vinay Kumar is one of MI’s 3 new imports for the year. (Image from gocricket.com)

The IPL Trading window has been going very well so far. I’m personally very happy to see that teams are actually using it this time (as opposed to last year), and I’m also glad that I can actually understand why the teams made the decisions they did.

The Mumbai Indians have been the most active, dropping 2 of their players and acquiring 3. The two players they dropped were Praveen Kumar and Michael Hussey.

With PK, I can see why they did what they did. The seamer was, after all, only a replacement for Zaheer Khan, and while he did not underperform, he did not do enough to give MI enough reason to retain him. Still, I personally would have thought that MI would have done well to retain PK, owing to the fact that Zak is injury prone.

With Hussey, however, I was more surprised. Although he had a poor showing in the UAE, he made a strong comeback in the India leg of the tournament, and brought experience to the playing 11 that would have been much missed after Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement. This again shows the fickle nature of the Mumbai Indians unit in terms of their player choices. Players such as Richard Levi, Davy Jacobs, and Corey Anderson were all players who delivered momentary bursts of brilliance, and were immediately snapped up by the franchise. However, when they failed to show, they were discarded almost as quickly as they were purchased. Jacobs and Levi were dropped following the 2012 IPL, and Corey was not a part of the playing XI for any of MI’s games in their forgettable CLT20 run this year. Same thing has happened to Hussey here. I’m guessing that it’s because of the unexpected rise of Lendl Simmons as an opener. His revolutionary rise to the occasion when Mumbai were all but out of the IPL is probably what inspired them to give him their slot for overseas opener.

Now on to their purchases. With Unmukt Chand and Parthiv Patel, I believe that it is yet again a part of Mumbai’s black hole desire for opening batsmen. Since Tendulkar’s retirement and Dwayne Smiths’ leaving MI, they have been searching for that suitable pair to open the innings. Hence, players like Hussey, CM Gautham and Ben Dunk were tried, but in vain. This, I assume, is just a continuation of that need to fill the void. Parthiv Patel was scintillating for RCB in the first few games of the tournament, but he quickly sizzled out, and failed to make much more of an impact. Nonetheless, he has shown on numerous occasions that he can be a stable opener, and could well be the answer to MI’s opening issue. As with Chand, he received well below his due playing time in IPL 2014, which I assume is due to Karun Nair’s extraordinary form. However, he can be a forceful opener for the MI squadron, and I feel that spending some time under greats like Tendulkar, Johnty Rhodes, Shaun Pollock and Anil Kumble would give the youngster an excellent chance to hone not only his cricketing skill, but his leadership skills as well. This experience could be one that would prepare him to be a future leader of India.

As for Vinay Kumar, the only reason I can find for their picking him is Zak’s injury situation. Although he is by no means a very economic bowler, Vinay is an aggressive wicket taker, who can choke oppositions at the right times. The Karnataka skipper also brings some experience with him, which can be useful for nurturing some of the other young bowlers in the MI squad.

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A Long Weekend of IPL

Yuvzendra Chahal has been one of the finds of the tournament. (Image from iplt20.com)

 

IPL is here. The most awaited event in the cricketing world barring World Cups, the IPL brings in a new essence of fickleness and thrill to cricket. In fact, we’ve already seen a 200-run chase, even though its been only 4 days since the start of the tournament. We’ve also seen how unpredictable it can be, as Mumbai Indians cartwheeled from a well-poised 60-2 in 9 overs to a paltry 115-9 in their 20 overs. Overall, its been a fabulous tournament already, and I can’t wait to see what the next month and half will bring!

The start of the IPL has was awaited event for me. Of course, watching it from South Korea is rather hard, owing to the fact that the 8 PM game begins at midnight, but being a hardcore cricket fan, I’ve managed to fight that obstacle and stay awake to see my favorite players rock the stage. I failed to catch the essence of the first game, owing to my over reliance on starsports.com (which apparently only streams in the subcontinent), and ended up with a terrible quality stream, to which I preferred simply catching the highlights next day during lunch break. For the rest of the games, however, I managed to find the correct YouTube streaming channel, and have managed to catch each and every match. And boy, did my dedication pay off. As mentioned in the intro paragraph, I’ve already been treated to Glenn Maxwell’s reverse sweeps, Yuvzendra Chahal’s googlies, Sunil Narine’s mystery, and Lasith Malinga’s yorkers, to name a few. There’s been some lovely contests, as Glenn Maxwell out shined Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith as KXIP successfully chased CSK’s 205-run total, and Virat Kohli combining with Yuvraj Singh to barrage the hapless Delhi Daredevils for sixes to successfully chase 145 with 20 balls to spare.

So far, I feel that two players who have impressed greatly are Parthiv Patel and Yuvzendra Singh Chahal. Since the moment Richard Madlee’s hammer hit the deck (and SRH declined to use ther RTM), Parthiv was doomed to be the minnow in the shadow of Gayle, Kohli and de Villiers. After all, what could be expected from a little man with an average barely over 20 and a strike rate barely over 100? However, Parthiv has been the not hid in the shadow, but cast his own. So far, he has epitomized the ideal opening partner for Chris Gayle. He’s played with beautiful temperament, and has taken the pressure off the rest of RCB’s batting lineup. Versus Delhi, he lead the charge with some aggressive batting to allow Virat Kohli to settle in, and against Mumbai he played a steadying innings to help RCB get off the hook after they were at 17-3. His good form also covered for Nic Maddinson’s lapses, and I am sure he will be incredible when Chris Gayle returns. Chahal was, I admit, a surprise choice as first spinner ahead of the much more experienced Shadab Jakati. However, it was nothing to the incredibility of his performance. He has taken 3 wickets across 2 games, with economy rates under 5 in each game. He is also yet to concede a boundary this tournament. However, his true beauty lies in his variations. For example, he bowled a beautiful legbreak to bowl over Murali Vijay on the very first ball of the season he bowled, and then bowled some beautiful wrong-uns vs MI to remove Kieron Pollard and Rohit Sharma. All the more impressive, considering he has played only 1 IPL match before this. Overall, Chahal looks like a promising talent, and RCB can rest their spin responsibilities on him.

 

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Mumbai Indians: Season Preview

First up, watch my podcast to know my general views of the team as it came fresh out of the auction:

In the last 4 years, the Mumbai Indians have been one of the most consistent franchises in the tournament. They’ve fought hard to make it into the semifinals, and finally in 2013, they managed to pick up their first ever title. They followed that with an astounding show to win the Champions League as well, making them the most valuable franchise today. Hence, they will walk into IPL 2014 with their heads held higher than most teams. The big difference from MI’s previous years in the tournament, however, will be that Sachin Tendulkar will not be playing for them anymore. The veteran called it a day after his side won the tournament, and his absence will leave a large void in their lineup. However, they’ve done a decent job to fill it up, pulling in star players like Michael Hussey, Ben Dunk, and Corey Anderson. Therefore, it will be exciting to see how the defending champions fare in the 2014 IPL.

Author’s Choice XI (Based on more recent times):

Michael Hussey

Aditya Tare

Rohit Sharma (c)

Ambati Rayudu

Kieron Pollard

Corey Anderson

Shreyas Gopal

Harbhajan Singh

Zaheer Khan

Pragyan Ojha

Jasprit Bumrah

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IPL Auctions 2014 – A Look Back

Hey guys,

Firstly, I’m really sorry I couldn’t do any pre-auctions reviews this year. I had an unfortunately high amount of work and also fell sick, so I really had no time to do them.

However, because of that, I’m going to make this post-auction review the best it can possibly be. I’m not going to go in depth on each team, but I’m going to touch on the highlights, and talk about a few things. Hope you enjoy 🙂

At ₹14 crore, Yuvraj Singh was this year’s most expensive player.

This IPL auction was something different for several reasons. Of course, it was the quarterly team revamp auction, but it also featured many different twists to it. For instance, it was done in Indian Rupees, included the Right to Match cards (which you can read about here), and also included uncapped players. While the other two definitely have their own effects, the latter is probably the most crucial, because it meant that teams would have to look to literally build their entire squads in this auction, and would not simply be able to buy some stalwarts in the auction and look to pick up the uncapped players later. Hence, it required a whole new scope of planning from the franchises as they made their purchases in this auction.

There were plenty of highlights of course; most of all was Yuvraj Singh going to the Royal Challengers Bangalore for a hefty sum of 14 crore rupees – which is roughly $2.26 million – making him the second most expensive player in IPL history. His inclusion into the RCB side, along with Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, and AB de Villiers, means that they have what is arguably the most devastating batting unit in the tournament. Next to Yuvraj was Dinesh Karthik, who was snapped up by his first franchise the Delhi Daredevils for an explosive sum of ₹12.5 crore which is around $2.02 million. It was also exciting to see Virender Sehwag  (I do not speak for Delhi fans when I say this) purchased by the Kings XI Punjab, even if it was for a relatively small sum for someone of his stature. Some of the other interesting purchases included the little-known New Zealand quick Matt Henry (CSK), the Zimbabwe wicket-keeper batsman Brendan Taylor (SRH), and the young Australian T20 opener Nic Maddinson (RCB). Another player who earned a surprisingly high sum was the uncapped Indian all-rounder Karan Sharma. Although he was eventually bought back by his former franchise the Sunrisers Hyderabad, it was not before his price had shot up from a mere ₹30 lakh to a mammoth 3.75 crores (about $600,000), which was more than what capped stars like Sehwag, Irfan Pathan, and Brad Hodge got.

The best post-auction squads, in my opinion, are those of the Sunrisers, Kings XI, and Royal Challengers. Kings XI probably made some of the best bargains of the auction, picking up players like Mitchell Johnson, George Bailey, Sehwag, Cheteshwar Pujara, and Thisara Perera; none of whom cost them more than 7 crores. The Sunrisers were probably one of the happiest franchises after the auction, after they walked out with guys like Aaron Finch, David Warner, and Naman Ojha combining with the already-retained Shikhar Dhawan to make up the SRH batting. In addition to this, their overall bowling attack now consists of Dale Steyn, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Irfan Pathan, Parveez Rasool, Amit Mishra, and Darren Sammy (which is already enough to make any batsmen pee in his pants), not even including their bench strength. The best part? None of their prices exceeded ₹5.5 crore. With RCB, it is easy to see why their side appears so intimidating. Not many look at a batting order containing Gayle, Kohli, de Villiers, Yuvraj, and Albie Morkel and say “that’s not good enough.” To add to their batting power, they pulled in former Sunrisers keeper batsman Parthiv Patel – who struck some crucial blows at the top of the order for SRH in both IPL 2013 and CLT20 2013 – India’s U19 World Cup hero Vijay Zol, and the talented Kenyan batsman Tanmay Mishra. Their bowling will be spearheaded by the Ozzie new-ball gun Mitchell Starc, ably assisted by Albie, Varun Aaron – one of India’s fastest bowlers today – Ashok Dinda, and Shadab Jakati. Hence, this RCB side resembles the one  the Delhi Daredevils had in 2012, with the beefed up batting and the pace-reliant attack.

Another thing that surprised most was that not many Sri Lankan players were picked at all. In fact, only two – Muttiah Muralitharan and Thisara Perera – were picked in the entire auction. While there are many factors that could possibly have lead to the franchises turning their back on them – most prominent of which is their tour of England that would lead them to miss a large portion of the tournament. Despite that, I find it very surprising that no franchise was willing to make a long-term investment in a T20 specialist like Mahela Jaywardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan, or Ajantha Mendis. Of course the franchises may show more interest when they appear in next year’s auctions, but the unconventional shortage of Sri Lankan stars will be something new to the league this year.

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IPL Auctions 2014: Ten Stick-Outs in the Lot

Its the new year 2014, and the IPL Auctions 2014 are dawning upon us already. With less than 30 days to go for the first phase of what is arguably the best domestic league in the world, teams are beginning to stir, waking from their long slumber. The list of retained players has already been announced, and if you so desire you can view them here. This auction plans to be much more interesting than the ones before, not only because it is the quarterly-arriving time where the entire teams are reformed, but also because of several new concepts introduced in this auction. The introduction of the “Right to Match” cards are amongst these interesting reforms, in addition to the retention limit going from 4 players to 5. I will do a thorough post that explains what the rights to match card does in another post, as I plan to do a lot of pre-auction posts anyways. In this particular post, I’m going to talk about 10 players who will definitely be on the buying lists of many franchises, and what will make them so valuable. Just so you know, the order they’re listed in has no statistical significance; its just the order I thought of them in. Here we go:

 

1. Cameron White (Australia)

The hard hitting Victorian has been known for inconsistency in the past, but in the on-going Big Bash League he has made himself heard, leading from the front with 201 runs at an average of 33.83, reinforced with a strike rate of 138.62. He also holds the reigns of captaincy for the Melbourne Stars, and is yet to lose a game this season. Such stats will definitely make White someone the IPL franchises will be looking for. For teams looking for new leaders and complete reform – namely the Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils – this experienced campaigner would be a good option.

Cameron White

2. Luke Wright (England)

While his fellow countrymen were being deep-fried Down Under in the Ashes, Luke Wright was having quiet a ball for the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League. Opening the innings with White, he has amassed 275 runs at a strike rate of 151.93 and an average of 34.37, and is the highest scorer for the Stars this year. He is no fool with the ball either, and in fact had an economy rate of 6.5 during Chris Gayle’s memorable assault on the Pune Warriors India during IPL 2013. He is a flexible batsman, and can bat anywhere from opening down to number 6 or 7. I feel that all the teams would love to have him on their side, but with the ECB being touchy about IPL, availability might be an issue for Wright. Still, franchises like RCB and MI would gladly take the risk, as combinations like Gayle and Wright would be beyond deadly.

Luke Wright

Luke Wright

3. Pragyan Ojha (India)

Pragyan Ojha is arguably India’s best test spinner today, but unfortunately he has been overlooked in the limited overs formats, where India’s bowling has taken a severe berating off late. His peak of form in terms of IPL cricket was in the years 2009 and 10, where he played a crucial role in Deccan Chargers’ unexpected title win in 2009, and semifinal place in 2010. He also won the Purple cap in 2010. In 2013, he played an instrumental role in Mumbai’s victory, as he claimed 16 wickets with an economy rate of 7.28, including the crucial wicket of Albie Morkel in the final. It is likely that he will be up for fair auction, as MI chose not to retain him, and are more likely to use their right to match card on Mitchell Johnson. This means that all the franchises will be after him, including MI. The Royal Challengers Bangalore might be willing to invest a lot in him as well, owing to the fact that bowling has been a concern for them in the last few years and Ojha would be able to remedy that well.

Pragyan Ojha

Pragyan Ojha

4. Dwayne Smith (West Indies)

The West Indian all-rounder is known for packing quiet a punch, and I doubt that there will be anyone to doubt that theory. He was devastating from the moment he set foot in the Mumbai Indians camp in 2012, and is remembered for smashing a six and two boundaries off Ben Hilfenhaus’s last three deliveries in the 20th over to snatch MI an improbable victory against the Chennai Super Kings in IPL 2012. However, he struggled in the middle-order from then on. His promotion to opener saw hell break loose, as he absolutely mauled the opposition bowlers and played an instrumental role in Mumbai’s victory of IPL 2013, scoring 418 runs at a strike rate of 122.58. He – like Ojha – will most likely be up for fair auction, as Mumbai did not retain him either, and as I said before, are more likely to use their right to match card on Mitchell Johnson, who was in red-hot form for the Ashes. While his former franchise will undoubtedly do everything they can to snap him up again, teams like CSK and Sunrisers Hyderabad –  who are looking for in-form batsmen to open their batting – will have their eyes on him as well.

Dwayne Smith

5. Aaron Finch (Australia)

Aaron Finch was in utterly decimating form this Big Bash League season. With 262 runs at a strike rate of 148.02 and an average of 52.40, he currently tops the run charts, he has truly been an example of “leading form the front” as he also captained the Melbourne Renegades. Unfortunately, international duty made him unavailable for their last 2 games, and that was only a catalyst that sped up the downfall of the Renegades, as they finished 6th in the league. Nonetheless, his performance is still enough to catch the eyes of any selector. He also scored a whoop-de-do 156 of just 63 against England in August last year, a score which stands as the highest individual T20I score ever. Finch led the now-defunct Pune Warriors India in 2013, and his 456 runs at a strike rate of 135.71 was the most for any batsman from his team, and gave a silver lining to PWI’s otherwise miserable season. The fact that his franchise cannot use a right to match card on him (because they don’t exist anymore) will make him up for fair auction, meaning that he will be under heavy bidding from about every franchise. Teams like Sunrisers Hyderabad and Delhi Daredevils, who are seeking batting reforms, will be particularly interested in him.

Aaron Finch

6. Bhuvneshwar Kumar (India)

Just about a year ago, Bhuvneshwar Kumar made his international debut, and he steamed through batsmen like a hot knife through butter. It has been more than evident that he lacks pace, and has been expensive at the death because of that. However, he is able to swing the new ball both ways, and is capable of wrecking havoc to top-order batsmen, and has even quelled Chris Gayle on many occasions with typical outswingers that caught edges. Although his form has deteriorated slightly over the last couple of months, which led to his dropping from the Test side in favor of Shami Ahmed, he is undoubtedly one of the best of the new-ball bowlers India’s got today, and it’ll be very strange if no IPL franchise decides to go for him. Teams that are looking to reform their teams altogether – such as Delhi or Kings XI Punjab – or teams that have struggled with bowling in the past – such as the Royal Challengers Bangalore – will definitely put a lot of money in him.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar

7. Ryan McLaren (South Africa)

This South-African all-rounder has been an integral part of South Africa’s limited overs side, and has guided them to multiple close wins. As a bowler, he has worked with Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel to good effect, and was a part of the 5-man pace attack that South Africa used to barrage the Indian visitors on their recent tour. As a batsman, he has not fired quiet as much, but has played quiet a few crucial knocks for RSA, as well as his IPL franchises. Most notable of these knocks was during Kings XI Punjab’s first game of the 2011 IPL, where he came in at 36-5, and made a crucial 43-ball 51, which saved his team many blushes, although they went on to lose the game. Considering also that the IPL may take place in South Africa, McLaren would be a handy player for any team to have on their side. After James Faulkner profited on their home pitch, Rajasthan might want to give McLaren a go as well, to add to their international flavor in their attack.

Ryan McLaren

8. James Neesham (New Zealand)

The New Zealand all-rounder made a large impact in the T20 world after his exploits for the Otago Volts in the CLT20 of 2013. Although his team just missed their semifinal berth, his highlights gave a silver lining for the Volts to remember. He made 92 in 54 balls across his 3 matches, and got out only once. He was able with the ball as well, taking 3 wickets across his 10 overs while keeping his economy rate to a mere 7.00. His best highlight of the league was probably during the super over between Otago Volts and the Highveld Lions, where he managed to defend his total of 13 runs despite giving 10 in the first 2 balls. Neesham’s abilities will be valued by about every team, but teams like RCB – who have been looking desperately looking for one of those all rounders who can be equally brilliant with both bat and ball – should be willing to shell out a large amount for him.

James Neesham

9. Jackson Bird (Australia)

Jackson Bird has been one of the key standout performers in the Big Bash league season this year. Amassing 13 wickets across 7 games with a miserly economy of 6.71 and a stunning average of 14.46, he has been an integral part of the unbeaten Melbourne Stars’ success so far. He currently stands second on the highest wicket takers table, with Cameron Gannon of Brisbane Heat ahead of him. Teaming up with Lasith Malinga, Bird has been Cameron White’s weapon of choice against opposing batsmen throughout this league. The teams that will probably go hardest for him are teams that have lacked the genuine spearhead bowler, such as Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore. However, it would also be just as wonderful to see him in Mumbai Indians or Sunrisers Hyderabad, bowling in tangent with Malinga or Dale Steyn.

Jackson Bird

10. Corey Anderson (New Zealand)

Corey Anderson has been the sensation of the year 2014 so far. After his world-record 36-ball ton against a hapless West Indies attack got everyone to look at him, he’s begun to show some more of his real class. In India’s tour of New Zealand, he whipped up a barrage with the bat, which included a 17-ball 44 that was just a six short of beating the record for fastest ODI fifty as well. He’s no amateur with the ball either. His left arm fast is probably not the most economic source of bowling, with his economy ranging well around the 6-an-over-mark, but he’s picked up nearly 20 wickets in just 12 games, and has already collected a 5-wicket haul. This shows that Corey may well be the vintage T20 all-rounder who gets the top bid for this year’s auction. Although about every team will look to go for him, it will be nice to see him in RCB, since the batting-friendly Chinnaswami Stadium track would definitely be able to bring out the best of Corey.

Corey Anderson

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