In this series of articles, we are assessing the team combinations of all IPL teams before the auction on December 19. The aim is to identify the key areas that the teams need to address in this year’s auction. To segment the analysis, we have divided a team into four sections – Top-order (1-3), Middle-order (4-7), spinners and pacers.
We will analyse each of these segments by further segmenting them with the respective median value of their categories since IPL 2015. To eliminate bias from extreme values, a median (the middle value that separates the higher half from the lower half of the data set) not a mean (average) is considered for analysis. All numbers are taken since 2015 to ensure that the analysis is performed based on a long-term trend. Minimum qualification criteria for medians is 5 matches for batsmen and 10 overs for bowlers.
Top-order and Middle-order batsmen: The players in the top right-hand box are considered to be consistent and quick scorers (Batting Average above 29.93 for top and 22.33 for middle-order and Batting Strike Rate above 132.1 for top and 132 for middle-order).
The top left-hand box represents players who are quick scorers but not consistent (Batting Average below 29.93 for top and 22.33 for middle-order and Batting Strike Rate above 132.1 for top and 132 for middle-order).
The bottom right-hand section players are observed as consistent but not quick scorers (Batting Average above 29.93 for top and 22.33 for middle-order and Batting Strike Rate below 132.1 for top and 132 for middle-order).
And finally, the bottom left-hand section is regarded as players who are neither quick scorer nor consistent (Batting Average below 29.33 for top and 22.33 for middle-order and Batting Strike Rate below 132.1 for top and 132 for middle-order).
Pacers and Spinners: The players in the top right-hand box are considered to be economical and wicket-takers (Economy Rate below 8.8 for pacers and below 8 for spinners; Bowling Strike Rate below 21.05 for pacers and below 24.55 for spinners.)
The top left-hand box represents players who are wicket-takers but not economical (Economy Rate above 8.8 for pacers and above 8 for spinners; Bowling Strike Rate below 21.05 for pacers and below 24.55 for spinners.)
The bottom right-hand section players are observed as economical but not wicket-takers (Economy Rate below 8.8 for pacers and below 8 for spinners; Bowling Strike Rate above 21.05 for pacers and above 24.55 for spinners.)
And finally, the bottom left-hand section contains players who are neither economical nor wicket-takers (Economy Rate above 8.8 for pacers and above 8 for spinners; Bowling Strike Rate above 21.05 for pacers and above 24.55 for spinners.)
Note that the aim of this analysis is to analyze the strongest squad possible each team can assemble after the auction; hence, suggestions like replacement for retained players are not provided.
KINGS XI PUNJAB
IPL 2019 Position – 6th
One of the three teams to have never won the tournament. The team has gone on a complete revamp in the past few years. Now after releasing David Miller, none of the players has been part of the setup for more than two seasons.
KXIP Top-Order (1-3)
The batting will not be an issue for KXIP ahead of the auction. They have the Indian opener, KL Rahul to open the innings for them. The greatest T20 player ever, Chris Gayle is still capable of winning a few games by himself.
Mayank Agarwal’s numbers in IPL since 2015 are not encouraging. But, he is one of the most improved players in international cricket. In all T20s in 2019, he averaged 30 with a strike-rate of 137.3, way above the IPL median.
KXIP Middle-Order (4-7)
Even in the middle-order department, KXIP have quite a few good options. Nicholas Pooran is now an international star. Karun Nair is fairly consistent. The presence of Krishnappa Gowtham bolsters the lower order.
However, if Gayle does not deliver in the top-order, they can open with Mayank. With that assessment in mind, they can romp in foreign finishers like Eoin Morgan (who can also fill the leadership gap). Given their purse, they can afford to target other key players like Glenn Maxwell and Shimron Hetmyer.
They have a world-class spin option in Mujeeb-ur-Rahman. Murugan Ashwin is also economical. Trading in Gowtham and Jagadeesha Suchith strengthens their spin department. The real concern for them is the pace department.
It is fair to say that KXIP lack even one pace bowling option. Mohammed Shami is a world-class bowler with the red-ball. But, he has been inconsistent with the white ball throughout his career. He has wicket-taking abilities but is prone to being expensive.
The numbers for Arshdeep Singh and Hardus Viljoen are far from encouraging. It is imperative for them to buy a couple of good pacers – both Indian and foreign.
Best XI as per the current squad-
KL Rahul ©, Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Karun Nair, Sarfaraz Khan, Krishnappa Gautham, Mohammed Shami, J Suchith, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Hardus Viljoen
KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS
IPL 2019 Position – 5th
The two-time champions went through a transition phase when they let go of their captain Gautam Gambhir. With the departure of other seniors like Robin Uthappa, who was released before this auction, it is time for them to rebuild again.
KKR Top-Order (1-3)
Shubman Gill, the future Indian star is a bright spot for KKR at the top of the order. They have traded-in Siddhesh Lad from Mumbai Indians but he has just one IPL game under his belt. He is a middle-order player in the Mumbai domestic team. In 2019 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, he scored 130 runs at an average of 32.5 and a strike-rate of 149.4.
Trusting Sunil Narine to open in the entire tournament will be a big gamble.
Hence, openers will be a prime target for KKR going into the auction. They can target the young star, Yashasvi Jaiswal, though he does not have any T20 experience. They can also bid for Rahul Tripathi. Among foreign openers, they can target Aaron Finch and Tom Banton.
KKR Middle-Order (4-7)
There a few good middle-order options for KKR. Dinesh Karthik and Nitish Rana are well established in IPL. Andre Russell is the most valuable T20 player going around. However, if they romp in an Indian opener, they should look for a foreign middle-order player. They can target Glenn Maxwell and Shimron Hetmyer to boost their middle-order.
Kuldeep Yadav had an indifferent IPL in 2019 (economy 8.7 and a strike-rate of 49.5) but they will hope that was just an anomaly. Narine though not the same threat as he used to be but is still very economical. Nitish Rana is also a good part-time option.
The pitch at Eden Gardens has not been helpful to spin in the past few seasons. But, given their purse they can consider options like Hayden Walsh.
They have multiple pace options but most of them have not been as impactful as expected. Based on their pitch, they should look to invest more in buying good pacers like Pat Cummins and Sheldon Cottrell.
KKR, as it stands now, is highly dependent on Andre Russell. Going by the players available in the auction, it is highly unlikely that they can put together a unit that, barring Russell, induces fear.
Best XI as per the current squad-
Shubman Gill, Sunil Narine, Siddhesh Lad, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik ©, Andre Russell, Rinku Singh, Kuldeep Yadav, Prasidh Krishna, Lockie Ferguson, Harry Gurney