IPL 2021: What’s Worked For Teams, And What’s Not

Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - IPL 2021: What's worked for teams, and what's not. CSK have won five of their seven games so far.

IPL 2021: What’s Worked For Teams, And What’s NotCSK have won five of their seven games so far.

The 14th edition of IPL is all set to resume in UAE in four days' time. Here we take a look back at how each team fared in the first half of the season played in India in April-May. First up, the table toppers CSK and DC along with the two teams languishing at the bottom – KKR and SRH.

Chennai Super Kings

What has worked: Batting, Spin bowling.

The two aspects that led to Chennai's early exit in last year's edition in UAE was their insipid batting approach and the lack of effectiveness of their spinners. Come 2021, they have not just addressed these concerns but also come out on the top of the pack in these two aspects. CSK have the best scoring rate in the middle (9.44) and death overs (12.86) and have hit the most sixes (62) in the India leg of the competition. The opening pair of Faf du Plessis and Ruturaj Gaikwad have given them solid if not spectacular starts with a sensational Moeen Ali ruling the roost in the middle overs against spinners. Ravindra Jadeja and Ambati Rayudu has given the finishing touches at the far end of the innings to propel totals past the par score.

Chennai's glory years were built on the success of their spin department and in UAE in 2020 they endured their worst season in over a decade. Despite playing all their seven games in the high scoring Mumbai and Delhi venues which offered little assistance for the spinners, the trio of Jadeja, Moeen and Imran Tahir have picked 13 wickets among them at an economy rate of 6.28, conveniently the best among all the sides.

What has not worked: The ageing guns – Dhoni and Raina

For long, these two names have been synonymous to the franchise for the fans. Having been away from international cricket for the best part of last 24 months, the most experienced CSK pair have struggled to hit the straps. Dhoni's poor form from 2020 has spilled over when the caravan moved to India where he hit only 37 runs in four outings. Raina, having missed last year's IPL, returned to CSK colours hitting a 36-ball 54 against a DC attack without the likes of Rabada and Nortje. But form deserted him in the five innings since, scoring only 69 runs at a strike rate of 113. With Moeen taking his customary #3 slot in the lineup, he has found going tough down the order. Jadeja and Rayudu made up the lost ground somewhat with their hitting form, but CSK cannot afford to carry passengers as the tournament approaches the business end.

Dhawan and Shaw have aggregated 512 runs in eight partnerships.

Delhi Capitals

What has worked: Dhawan-Shaw opening pair, Avesh Khan

Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw have been at the forefront of five of Delhi's six wins. The pair has aggregated 512 runs in eight partnerships at a rate of 9.25 per over and bagged four of the five Player of the Match awards won by DC players. Dhawan is the leading run-getter of the season with 380 runs while Shaw is at fourth place with 308 runs at a strike rate of 166.5, which is the best among top-20 run-getters of the season. Shaw has been particularly devastating in the Powerplay striking at 187, hitting a boundary at the rate of one every three balls.

Avesh Khan has been a revelation in the season filling the role of the third seamer which was Delhi's only weak link in an otherwise well-oiled attack in last edition. His 14 wickets is only behind Harshal Patel's tally of 17 wickets but unlike Harshal whose majority chunk came in death overs, Avesh has been equally penetrative across the three phases.

What has not worked: Middle-order batting and death-overs bowling

The two issues are somewhat intertwined. Shreyas Iyer's absence meant Delhi had to play Steven Smith at #3 which meant only one of Rabada or Nortje could feature in the XI. Smith found the going tough scoring 104 runs in five innings at a strike rate of 112. Pant hasn't hit his 2018-19 form which meant DC struggled in the middle overs when openers failed to set a good platform. Pant struggled to hit the right tempo and his form was summarized during his knock of 48-ball unbeaten 58 in the one-run defeat against RCB where he failed to knock down the required 14 runs off the final over.

In 2020, DC were the best side in death overs thanks to the South African seam bowling pair. While Nortje is yet to feature in a game, Rabada has struggled to hit the right lengths in the end overs. The two games DC had lost, poor bowling in the final five overs played a key part. Against Royals, they failed to defend 58 off the last five despite the opposition being six down. Against RCB, a tactical blunder by skipper Pant meant Stoinis had to bowl the final over to a well-set AB de Villiers who smashed 23 off that over in the eventual one-run defeat.

Pat Cummins has been the real MVP for KKR so far.

Kolkata Knight Riders

What has worked: Not a lot

While it may not have reaped rich dividends, one of the things that KKR corrected from last season was giving their batsmen a consistent run at a specific role. Last year, apart from Shubman Gill, no one else had a fixed batting position and there was too much chopping and changing leading to a lack of role clarity. This season, Gill-Rana-Tripathi consistently batted in the top three with Morgan in the middle order followed by Russell-Karthik-Cummins trio. The issue for them this year has been the fact the lineup hasn't clicked in unison. They have had games where top set the game up, but lower middle order couldn't get them over the line and other instances of top order collapses in tall run chases leaving behind too much to do for the middle order.

Cummins was their standout player in the India leg picking nine wickets and contributing useful lower-order runs but him pulling out of the remainder has served them a severe jolt.

What has not worked: Plenty

None of Knight Riders' batsmen are among the top ten run-getters while only two of their bowlers find a place in the top-14 wicket takers – Cummins at seventh and Prasidh Krishna at 14th – underlining their core issues. The top order has batted too conservative – Rana, Gill and Tripathi all striking well below 120 in the Powerplay – leaving to inefficient utilization of the engine room of their batting which the middle order of Morgan, Russell and Karthik.

On the bowling front, the inability to strike regularly has been an Achilles Heel for them in the last two seasons have continued to haunt them even this year. They picked the fewest wickets among all teams in 2019, second fewest in 2020 and are currently the joint-lowest in 2021 so far. Their pacers have struggled for wickets upfront (three in seven innings in Powerplay) while has had a knock-on effect on the spinners in the middle. Only RR have taken fewer wickets in the middle phase than KKR's six. Narine's wicket taking threat has dipped significantly while Kuldeep Yadav hasn't made the XI yet. Despite playing three matches on the slow burner at Chepauk, KKR seamers are among the expensive sides in the death overs.

Bairstow and Rashid have done the heavy lifting for SRH.

SunRisers Hyderabad

What has worked: Bairstow and Rashid

For a team that is languishing at the bottom of the pile, it wouldn't be an exaggeration it was these two gentlemen who did the heavy lifting in their respective departments. Bairstow is the leading run-getter for SRH scoring at 8.50 runs per over in comparison to 7.04 by rest of his teammates. He finished on top of the run charts on the slow burner at Chepauk scoring 211 runs at 142 and an impressive 176 in the Powerplay consistently giving SRH fast starts. His dismissals often sparked off batting collapses for Sun Risers' middle order.

Jos Buttler, who hit a whirlwind 64-ball 124 against SRH, scored six singles and a two off the 12 balls he faced from Rashid in that innings – something that aptly summarizes the gulf in class between Rashid and rest of SunRisers' bowling in the season. Rashid picked ten wickets in seven games at an economy rate of 6.14 and the victims include the likes of AB de Villiers, Andre Russell, Chris Gayle, Shikhar Dhawan, Faf du Plessis and Moeen Ali. Rashid received little support from his colleagues with none of the other SRH bowlers picking more than four wickets and had an ER under seven.

What has not worked: Batting lineup outside of Bairstow and the domestic pace bowling unit

SRH's batting unit apart from Bairstow hasn't clicked and as a result they are the fastest scoring side in Powerplay and at the lower end of scoring rates outside of it. To an extent, Bairstow has made up for Warner's poor form (193 runs at SR 110) but Manish Pandey's slow-paced approach has cost SRH all the three times he spent any substantial time in the middle. The biggest issue for them once again have been their lower order comprised of inexperienced Indian players who have often failed to close down games from winning positions. SunRisers' Indian batting contingent averaged under 19 and scored at a rate of 115 in the first half of the season. They bolstered their middle order by bringing in Kane Williamson but finishing the innings remains a concern for them.

Likewise in the bowling department, the overseas bowlers picked 17 wickets at an economy rate of 6.93 while their Indian counterparts could manage only 19 in more than double the number of overs at 8.75 per over. Given the lack of quality overseas reinforcements in the pace bowling front, this issue could continue to haunt SRH in the second half as well. SRH fast bowlers are the worst seam bowling unit in terms of strike rate, and this has particularly hurt them in the Powerplay where their seamers picked just two wickets across seven innings.

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