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Defending the Crown: A Sunrisers Hyderabad Post-Auction & Pre-Season Review

On April 5th 2017, IPL will begin its 10th edition, meaning that it’s time to begin talking about how the teams line up. This article, as well as the 7 following it, will discuss auction performances, as well as key players and lineups for each team.

SRH were largely dependent on David Warner for their runs. Image credits: espncricinfo.com

The Sunrisers Hyderabad put up a dominating show to register their maiden IPL victory. Building on the star performances of the accurate Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the devastating David Warner and, of course, the peerless Mustafizur Rahman, SRH managed to end a streak of mediocre performances to finally seize the cup.

Approaching 2017, however, it is impossible to overlook certain issues that appeared in their lineup during the 2016 campaign. First and foremost was the middle order — While Warner and Shikhar Dhawan both had seasons to remember, none of the other SRH batsmen managed to put together substantial runs. Yuvraj Singh had his moments, but the rest of SRH’s middle order could neither score consistently nor at a quick rate. The two main culprits of this were Deepak Hooda (144 runs from 17 games; SR 119.00 & Avg 10.28) and Naman Ojha (136 runs from 17 games; SR 98.55 & Avg 13.60). Even overseas recruits Eoin Morgan (123 from 7 games @ 117.14) and Kane Williamson (124 from 6 games @ 101.63) flattered to deceive. This meant that for the most part, SRH were largely dependent on their openers for the bulk of their runs, and were easily bogged down if their openers (particularly Warner) failed.

Hence, they entered the 2017 Auction with the main goal of picking up someone who could solidify that middle order. They exited the auction with:

SRH Auction Results - Property of IPLgeek.com.

 

As always, SRH exited with a pretty decent set of players for a relatively small sum of money. They have been good auction “players” since their first auction in 2013, and have continued that trend here. Their most expensive player was the young 19-year old Afghani leg spinner Rashid Khan.

Rashid and Mohammed Nabi – the first Afghani players to be offered IPL contracts – were obviously the two talking points on SRH’s purchase list, but on the whole it was quite interesting to see SRH did not actually spend a whole lot on middle-order batsmen, as simple logic would suggest to be their logical course of action. For the most part, they were looking for all-rounders and bowlers. Despite the fact that Naman Ojha will need to step up his game given that Ekalavya Dwivedi will be breathing down his neck, this indicates that on the whole, they are willing to trust a largely similar middle order to last year to make it count this time around, but are looking to solidify their bowling options, and bring in the extra all-rounder wherever possible. This is also something that was indicated by the retainment of Kane Williamson ahead of the auction, despite a poor season.

A possible reason for this style of purchasing could be that they want to maintain the two overseas all-rounder dynamic that was present in their victorious final squad, but at the same time provide more stable all-round options than Moises Henriques and Ben Cutting. Henriques was an integral cog to SRH’s bowling unit, but floundered with the bat. Cutting offered some decent all-round shows in the 4 games he played – including a scintillating all-round show in the Final – but his low-order smashing does not quite fit within the niche of solidity that SRH need to help anchor their middle order. A more solid all-rounder like Ben Stokes (for whom they were willing to spend up to ₹14 crore), therefore, could have helped remedy that while still maintaining that two-allrounder dynamic. Mohammed Nabi will play a critical role here, as he can not only serve as a powerful batsman, but also be a frontline spinner, something that SRH critically lacked last season.

Another main point they might have wished to address would be Mustafizur Rahman’s situation. Although it feels strange to doubt the form of a player who was next to invincible just last season, SRH did the right thing by bringing in backups for him. As KXIP learned the hard way in 2015 with Glenn Maxwell, not having backups for even your best players can result in disaster. This also makes sense given that Mustafizur played almost no cricket between the 2016 Final and December of that year, due to injury. His return to cricket has not quite been marked by extraordinary success, and hence SRH would have every reason to be cautious about his form come April. On paper Chris Jordan is a play-for-play replacement — he is a death over specialist, often saved for the last few overs of the innings, very similar to the way Warner used Mustafizur during the 2016 season. However, this is also where Rashid Khan could make his break into the side. While SRH rode largely on a solid fast-bowling squadron in 2016, Rashid’s recent performances – including a 5 wicket haul in 10 balls – for Afghanistan make him very hard to ignore.

All in all, SRH had little to fix ahead of the 2017 season, and even if they didn’t address every concern, they opened up some very interesting avenues, and have put together a very solid team for 2017. Now, check out my dynamic for their playing XI:

SRH Playing Dynamic - Image Property of IPLgeek.com

Note: This dynamic represents possible scenarios of my own deduction, and have no direct affiliation with the actual plans of the SRH team management.

Mohammed Nabi will play one of the largest roles for SRH this season; doubling up as a frontline spinner and a middle-order power hitter, Nabi will allow SRH to stick to their very successful fast-bowling lineup from 2016 while still being able to take advantage of any spin on offer. However, that is not to neglect the presence of Pravin Tambe, who enters the side as a full-time spinner, something SRH lacked last year. While SRH have had the most success with their pace attack, Tambe’s presence allows them to have a second frontline spin option with Nabi, and one of higher quality than Bipul Sharma.

Rashid Khan could also play a massive role in SRH’s defense of their title, but his entry into the XI will largely be dependent on whether or not SRH want to play Mustafizur. Given their lack of quality Indian batting, it is unlikely that they will go for two overseas bowlers, which means that it will either be one or the other. Previous IPL stats obviously favor the Fizz, but as mentioned above, he has been sidelined with injury for a long time, and has had very little playing time between the 2016 IPL and now. Rashid, on the other hand, has been making headlines with his star shows against Ireland. Hence, it will be a very interesting contest to see which of the two makes it into the final XI.

The use of Kane Williamson will also be something to look out for. Henriques had a poor run with the bat in 2016, and the number three spot was an itch on their nose for the whole of the season. Although Williamson did little to turn heads himself, the fact that SRH have chosen to retain him demonstrates that they have faith in him, faith that his English colleague Eoin Morgan did not receive. If Williamson fires, he could solve pretty much all of SRH’s middle order woes in a jiffy, while also offering the option of playing as an opener with David Warner, should Shikhar Dhawan’s form tail.

Mohammed Siraj will also be expected to make ripples for SRH this season. While Barinder Sran holds the advantage of being a capped bowler, he has had little playing time since spearheading India’s side that toured Zimbabwe in June of last year. While they have little reason to tinker with their winning combination, Siraj could provide an alternative to Sran’s left-arm pace (which SRH already have an abundance of in Mustafizur and Ashish Nehra), which would bring a tad more variety to David Warner’s bowling options.

The Sunrisers’ first game will be the tournament opener on April 5th, as they take on fellow finalists Royal Challengers Bangalore at home, in the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.

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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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5 Players Who Can Make It Happen this IPL

Shane Watson could be RCB’s formula to success (image from sports.ndtv.com).

The T20 World Cup is nearing its end, meaning that the IPL is just around the corner. Now, I have spent a fair bit of time preparing for a set of pre-season/post auction reviews I plan to do in the near future, and as I have perused the player lists, I have found some players who can definitely cause ripples in this season for their respective franchises, and possibly even bring them the trophy (i.e. “Make it Happen):

Note: I have attempted to be as diverse as possible in terms of franchises without discounting player worth.

#5: Samuel Badree (RCB)

Badree has been one of WI’s standout bowlers this WT20. Although his 7 wickets in 5 games are impressive on their own, his economy rate of 5.68 is what really stands out. Considering that he played 2 of those 5 games on the run-rich track of Mumbai. His ability to bowl those tight overs upfront with the new ball will be invaluable for RCB, especially in light of Mitchell Starc’s uncertainty due to injury.

#4: Ashish Nehra (SRH)

In the last few months, Ashish Nehra has scripted quite a turnaround in his T20 career. He had a mighty fine T20 World Cup, taking a wicket in each of his 5 games while conceding under 30 runs. Even more impressive is that he has accomplished this feat across 5 different grounds, which is a great indicator that he isn’t just someone who is constantly reaping the rewards of a pitch he knows well. In addition, it will be a chance for him to step up and lead a relatively young Sunrisers bowling lineup, and fill the void left by the departure of Dale Steyn and Ishant Sharma.

#3: Kevin Pietersen (RPS)

Last time Kevin Pietersen played an IPL, he had to lead the Delhi Daredevils, and struggle with a contingent of out of form players who were not quite settled with their roles in the team. Now, however, he is playing under MS Dhoni, arguably the Otto von Bismarck of cricket (in terms of genius, that is, not inciting wars with countries). He is also in a batting lineup that consists of men like Ajinkya Rahane and Faf du Plessis, who are known to be good at anchor roles. Hence, this season, KP will truly be liberated and free to do what he does best: attack the bowlers from ball one.

#2: Quinton de Kock (DD)

QDK has really enjoyed his time in India during the T20 World Cup. He registered scores of 52, 45. 47, and 9 in four games to put up a performance so strong it effectively shunned AB de Villiers from his traditional T20I opening slot, giving the Proteas one star in an otherwise dark night of a tournament. He will also be partnering with the illustrious Shreyas Iyer at the top of the order, which will finally give Zaheer Khan’s Daredevils hope of batting stability that they have sought so desparately since the era of Sehwag, Mahela and Warner.

#1: Shane Watson (RCB)

Shane Watson is probably the most accomplished all-rounder to don the RCB jersey since the legendary Jacques Kallis himself. For the franchise that has struggled so much with side balance in the last several years, there are so many options he opens up. He covers the role of a seasoned fast-bowler, allowing RCB to invest one of their overseas slots in a Samuel Badree, who could tantalize batsmen on the newly laid slower Chinnaswami track. His flexibility in the batting order allows RCB to give their young batting contingent a chance to find the positions and roles that suit them best. Lastly, his years of experience and success in both international and IPL cricket will allow him to bring something to the table for both the batsmen and the bowlers, and will also be someone Virat Kohli can turn to for a word of wisdom. In addition, Watto delivered consistently with both bat and ball for Australia in the T20 World Cup, and although some team lapses meant that trophy will still remain elusive to the otherwise trophy-rich Australian team, Watto sure did exit International Cricket in style.

 

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Top 5 Bargains of the IPL 2016 Auction

Dale Steyn was picked up for quite a bargain price. ( Image from indiatoday.in )

The 2016 IPL Auction was arguably the most interesting of all time, not just because of the influx of players from the now-suspended Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals franchises, but also because of the fact that two teams – Rising Pune Supergiants and Gujarat Lions – had to build their teams pretty much from scratch in what we consider as one of those “team strengthening” auctions. While I saw many buys that just had me scratching my head, I also saw a couple of excellent bargain buys, five of which I shall highlight in this article.

#5 – Stuart Binny (Rs. 2.00 crores – roughly $295,000) – Royal Challengers Bangalore

I realize that many may not think Binny as a marvelous bargain made in this auction, and they are not wrong to do so. However, we must consider the team that he has been brought into. RCB has been in search of a proper Indian all-rounder since…well, forever. Yuvraj was a good shot, but 14 crores was a weight too big for the RCB purse to bear, and he was let go. Acquiring Binny may have finally solved that problem. Although he hasn’t been in prime form over the last year, if he can roll his arm over for 2-3 overs at 8 or less, and swing a couple of sixes at the end of the innings, he will be quite and asset for the franchise. Of course, the question of whether or not he will actually perform remains, but I feel that for the risk, 2.00 crore is not a bad price to pay.

#4- Kevin Pietersen (Rs. 3.50 crores – roughly $515,000) – Rising Pune Supergiants

Even though his standing with the English Cricket Board is flaky at best, it is undeniable that Kevin Pietersen is a true mascot of the sport of cricket, and a worldwide entertainer. He has not donned the English jersey since England’s unceremonious loss of the 2013-14 Ashes Down Under, yet he continues to ply his trade in various T20 Leagues around the world – such as the Big Bash League, the Carribian Premier League, and the recently started Pakistan Super League. Wherever he has gone, he has given fans a marvelous display of T20 skill and power. He captained the Delhi Daredevils to their disastrous 8th place finish in 2014, and had to opt out of his Sunrisers contract last year to ply his trade at county cricket in a bid to return to the international squad. This year, he will be at Pune, alongside the likes of MS Dhoni, Steve Smith, and Faf du Plessis. While 3.50 crores is a significant amount of money, for someone in the form that KP is in, it is quite a steal.

#3 – Mustafizur Rahman (Rs. 1.4 crores – roughly $210,000) – Sunrisers Hyderabad

When we think of India’s devastating Bangladesh ODI series in June 2015, Mustafizur’s name comes up almost the same way Hitler’s does with World War II. The man picked up 5, 6, and 2 wickets in the first three games respectively, giving his team a 2-1 victory. The young 20-year old has not stopped his carnage there, however, as he holds averages under 15 in both T20 and ODI cricket. With a great abundance of Indian pacers in the Sunrisers lineup, not to mention Trent Boult vying for that bowler’s overseas slot, it will be difficult for Mustafizur to get games on a regular basis, but regardless, a price of 1.40 crores for him was a real jackpot for the Sunrisers.

#2 – Dwayne Smith (Rs. 2.30 crores – roughly $340,000) – Gujrat Lions

Since he was made a regular opener by the Mumbai Indians in 2012, Dwayne Smith has taken the IPL by storm. His belligerent hitting played a vital role for MI in 2013, as he covered up for Sachin Tendulkar’s injury and helped them win their first title. When he was contracted to CSK in 2014, he simply picked up from where he left off, partnering with Brendon McCullum to make one of the most devastating opening pairs in all of IPL. In fact, he came within tasting distance of the 2014 MVP Award, only to lose it by half a point to Glenn Maxwell. Considering that they drafted McCullum beforehand, they will be very happy that they could pick up his CSK opening partner for such a modest price.

#1 – Dale Steyn (Rs. 2.30 crores – roughly $340,000) – Gujrat Lions

Despite the fact that he’s going through a rather rough patch, with injuries and lapses in form, Dale Steyn is still one of the best bowlers in the world today. Like he showed in 2012 with the Deccan Chargers, he can single-handedly lead a team’s bowling attack to some success. When Gujrat came out of the Player Draft, many questions were raised about how they were going to acquire someone to spearhead them for a price that their budget would permit. Hence, picking someone like Steyn up for just 2.30 crores was a true bargain.  

 

 

 

 

 

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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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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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Sunrisers Hyderabad: Season Preview

As always, watch my podcast for my general overview and analysis of the team:

After the Kings XI Punjab, I feel that the Sunrisers Hyderabad made some of the best buys in the IPL Auction for 2014. They pulled in a strong, balanced squad, and look like the team to bet this IPL. They did bring in Australian duo of David Warner and Aaron Finch to combine with the retained Shikhar Dhawan to beef up the top order, but the true strength of their side comes in their bowling. After pulling back the core of their attack by retaining and buying back Dale Steyn, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma, Darren Sammy and Karan Sharma, they roped in Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Irfan Pathan, Jason Holder, Parveez Rasool, and Moises Henriques to form what is inarguably the most dangerous bowling line up this season. The only issue for them would be who be that a majority of their middle order is left in a slightly slippery position, with players like Venugopal Rao and Naman Ojha not really being in impact form over the last two years. However, they do have other options, such as Manpreet Juneja, Lokesh Rahul, and Srikkanth Aniruddha, so they do have room for experimentation. Some other things it will be interesting to see is whether Sunrisers will prefer to use Karan Sharma to Parveez Rasool, or whether they will play Ashish Reddy in their squad, as he has been good for the Sunrisers in the past.

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

Shikhar Dhawan (c)

David Warner

Aaron Finch

Lokesh Rahul (wk)

Darren Sammy

Irfan Pathan

Ashish Reddy

Karan Sharma

Amit Mishra

Dale Steyn

Bhuvneshwar Kumar

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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: Right To Match Cards Explained

The IPL Auctions are closing in fast, and, as always, they promise to be a gripping experience, with almost as much tension and excitement as the real league itself. This years’ auctions, however, promise to be much more exciting than the ones before, primarily because of the implementation of several new measures. Amongst these is the “Right to Match card” concept. This may seem a complex concept, but in reality it’s not. It’s just like a stimulant to add an extra variable to the auctions, and make them even more exciting. The number of Right to Match cards a team has is based off how many players they retained. This chart will represent that:

 

Number of Players Retained Number of RTM cards

5

1

4

1

3

1

2

2

1

2

0

3

 

So as you can see, the number of players retained is inversely proportional to the number of RTM cards the franchise has. Since nearly every franchise decided to retain someone, the Delhi Daredevils is probably the only team with 3 RTM cards. The number of cards each franchise has is as follows:

Franchise Retentions RTM Cards Remaining Sum
Mumbai Indians

5

1

Rs. 21 crore

Chennai Super Kings

5

1

Rs. 21 crore

Rajasthan Royals

5

1

Rs. 22.5 crore

Sunrisers Hyderabad

2

2

Rs. 38 crore

Royal Challengers Bangalore

3

1

Rs. 30.5 crore

Kings XI Punjab

2

2

Rs. 43.5 crore

Kolkata Knight Riders

2

2

Rs. 38 crore

Delhi Daredevils

0

3

Rs. 60 crore

 

Now how the card itself works, is as follows. The player comes up for auction, and is auctioned as normal. Once the player receives no further bids, the auctioneer (hopefully Richard Madlee) will announce him sold. Then, he will ask if the players’ former franchise wishes to use an RTM card. If the franchise uses a card, then they will get the player at the final bid made. You may think that the franchises might as well use it on their best former player, and it will pretty much like a 6th retention. However, it has a different twist to it. To display this, I will use the practical example of Micheal Hussey. He was (surprisingly) released by CSK, and will feature in the auctions. So lets assume that he comes up, and all the teams start bidding like crazy.  They bid and bid and bid, and eventually Mumbai Indians raise the baton for 5.00 crores, and no one bids any further. Then, when the auctioneer hits the hammer, he will ask CSK if they wish to use their RTM card. This is an example of where things get complicating. While CSK have the chance to buy Hussey back, would it be worth paying up ¼ of their remaining purse just on him? That is why the RTM is a little more ambiguous than retention, and adds an extra twist to the auction. Hopefully this article has given you an insight on the RTM card factor, and helped you understand it better. Now lastly, here are my predictions as to who the franchises will use their RTM cards on, based on my assumptions and whatever information I’ve managed to find:

Franchise Player(s) the card(s) will be used on
Mumbai Indians Mitchell Johnson
Chennai Super Kings Chris Morris
Rajasthan Royals Brad Hodge
Sunrisers Hyderabad Quinton de Kock, Amit Mishra
Royal Challengers Bangalore Vinay Kumar
Kings XI Punjab David Hussey, Shaun Marsh
Kolkata Knight Riders Jacques Kallis, Eoin Morgan
Delhi Daredevils David Warner, Mahela Jaywardene, Umesh Yadav

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Will the Sun Rise in Chennai?

Who will the Sunrisers play?

Phew. What an IPL we’ve been having so far. Two hat-tricks, two 200+ scores (one of them being the highest T20 score ever), two individual hundreds, and so much more. Today we have a very interesting clash. The Chennai Super Kings take on the Sunrisers Hyderabad. Now you may ask, what’s so important about this game? It’s just another Chennai vs Hyderabad game. To that, I say that this match is very important because of two reasons. One, because it’s in Chennai, which means that there are no Sri Lanka players, which means that there is no Thisara Perera or Kumar Sangakkara. This gives a chance to Darren Sammy and Nathan McCullum, or both, if they take into account Quinton de Kock’s poor performances. Two, Shikhar Dhawan will return to play for SRH. He was most unfortunately injured after his sensational Test debut against Australia, where he scored a massive 187 in just 174. His return will be crucial for the Sunrisers, owing to the fact that they’ve struggled with batting form throughout the tournament. Another interesting thing will be to see Darren Sammy made his debut. Sammy captained West Indies to a fabulous T20 World Cup win, and might well be asked to do so today. Also, Sammy’s fast bowling will supplement to the spearhead of Dale Steyn and Ishant Sharma. Another good player who should get a game today is Nathan McCullum. He is most likely to play, provided Quinton de Kock is left out. de Kock’s form has been poor. Now if Dhawan arrives, then there will be no need for de Kock to be in the side. McCullum will be preferred over Clint McKay or Juan Theron, owing to the fact that there are already three strong pacers in the team. McCullum could also prove to be a valuable player to bowl in tangent with Amit Mishra, and will help a lot against the CSK batting lineup, and also he could help provide some depth in the batting lineup. So let’s see what the Sunrisers do. If I could, I would pick this XI:

 

Shikhar Dhawan

Parthiv Patel (wk)

Cameron White (c)

Hanuma Vihari

Biplap Samantary

Darren Sammy

Nathan McCullum

Ashish Reddy

Amit Mishra

Dale Steyn

Ishant Sharma

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