This IPL version 2 after a decade was a new start with fresh auctions and 2 old teams returning. However, the results were along expected lines. I will list the teams from the worst to the best in the table and performance as well:
DD – Delhi Daredevils
• The team never seems to get it right. They have great individuals but not a great team and this year too they ended up at the bottom.
• Even an experienced and successful captain like Gambhir (who was 2nd in the list for most runs in IPL 2017) could not turn around the fortunes of the team and instead he himself left them mid-way.
• Maxwell (INR 9 crores) averaged just 14 with the bat!
• They however clearly had the best young talent on display- Pant, Shaw, Iyer, and Lamichhane along with mostly unnoticed but surprisingly good Abhishek Sharma and Harshal Patel.
KXIP – Kings XI Punjab
• Started off fantastically and fell off by the end.
• All credit goes to KL Rahul who justified his price tag (11 crores) as a batsman and also kept wickets while Gayle was a bonus and a surprise. He had a point to prove and he showed he wasn’t done yet.
• In the bowling department it was Tye and Mujeeb who took up all the responsibility. Rest were all big disappointments.
• Nair, Mayank, Miller, Yuvraj, Tiwary, Ashwin, Axar, Mohit, Sran all failed, some quite miserably. You can’t get to the play-offs with just 4 players performing.
• Ankit Rajpoot was another rare positive for them.
RCB – Royal Challengers Bangalore
• The team which has the batting power but never wins the trophy.
• Kohli and AB were again quite clearly the best with the bat.
• In the bowling department it was Umesh Yadav who was refreshingly good with the ball getting it to move at pace.
• They never had a settled team with most players interestingly getting only around 5–6 games (De Kock, Parthiv, McCullum, Moeen, Sundar, Southee, Sarfaraz)
MI – Mumbai Indians
• One of the strongest teams on paper, started off as usual by losing matches (first 4 losses were in the last over) but couldn’t quite recover this time.
• Biggest disappointment was the form of captain Rohit Sharma who didn’t quite know where to bat.
• They also couldn’t decide on their 4th overseas player, trying out Pollard, Duminy and Mustafizur one after the other.
• Bowling was quite good with Bumrah, Mitch and a surprise Markande well supported by the Pandya brothers.
• It was the batting that let them down. Suryakumar was the best and Lewis was decent as his opening partner. Besides them only Kishan sparked intermittently.
• For some reason, they only seem to perform well every alternate year (winning 2013, 2015 and 2017).
RR – Rajasthan Royals
• They had done well at the auctions in putting together a good squad but the loss of Smith both as a captain and batsman was a big one.
• Samson started off brilliantly but soon tapered off. Rahane was disappointing as was Unadkat (11.5 crores, 2nd highest wicket taker in IPL 2017) and Stokes (12.5 crores and last years Man of the series). They desperately wanted Darcy Short (BBL’s highest run getter) to strike and he got many chances but he never quite took off.
• It was only when Buttler and Tripathi took the opening slots that they suddenly gained momentum. However, once Buttler left, it was all over. Look at their batting line-up for the Eliminator- only 3 regular batsmen. That’s it!
• Gowtham, Gopal and Archer were the other positives for them. Sodhi too was good in the chances that he got.
KKR – Kolkata Knight Riders
• A new captain but similar team. Karthik did well to take over and maintain their good run.
• Lynn, Uthappa and Rana were decent but not great. It was up to the West Indians Narine (Most valuable player 2018) and Russell to provide the firepower and they surely did with strike rates being around the 190 mark!
• Spin is their strength in bowling and the trio of Narine, Kuldeep and Chawla too were decent overall.
• Shubman Gill was impressive and showed great promise as did Prasidh Krishna.
SRH – Sunrisers Hyderabad
• Warner’s loss as an opening batsman (Most runs in IPL 2017) and captain was a big one and they need to thank Williamson profusely, who never let his absence hurt and took over brilliantly.
• Dhawan was the only other batsman who took up the responsibility. Rest all like Pandey (11 crores) and Yusuf fared poorly overall.
• It was only thanks to the best bowling line-up in the tournament that they salvaged lost games and what a performance it was by Kaul and Rashid (all-round) especially followed by Shakib, Sandeep, Bhuvi and even Stanlake initially.
• Interestingly they lost all 4 of their matches against CSK.
• They really need to look to bolster their batting though to have a more balanced team.
CSK – Chennai Super Kings
• What a comeback and it’s that man at the helm with the Midas touch again- MS Dhoni with the most popular team of the IPL.
• Overall the best team on display with Rayudu being outstanding along with Watson, Raina and Dhoni himself.
• Somebody or the other just seemed to be putting their hand up when others failed. Faf is a great example.
• Shardul picked wickets but was expensive as was Bravo who is not quite at his best now while Jadeja was decent with the ball.
• Ngidi was fantastic and Deepak Chahar too was outstanding, reminding you of a young Bhuvneshwar swinging the ball in the early overs and even showed glimpses of his batting talent.
• Jadhav was unfortunate to miss out on a great opportunity to play under Dhoni due to injury.
• They know the code to crack this tournament and you just can’t keep them away from the play-offs.
I had predicted the top 4 teams after just the first day of the auctions and 3 of them made it.
I would expect next year to be pretty much along similar lines as this year.