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LSG need to control the controllables, season all but over for DC & SRH

article_imageIPL MID-SEASON REVIEW
Last updated on 26 Apr 2023 | 05:09 AM
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LSG need to control the controllables, season all but over for DC & SRH

35 games into IPL 2023, we review the first half of MI, LSG, GT, DC & SRH’s campaigns

Lucknow Super Giants

4 wins, 3 losses, fourth on the table

To no one’s surprise, Lucknow find themselves in the top four. However, the Super Giants will be disappointed to have collected just eight points, having blown two separate matches from a winning position. As a result, they find themselves in a dogfight for a playoff spot alongside six other sides. 

What has worked?

Overseas players have been a huge hit, starting with Kyle Mayers up top.

Mayers got a cap only due to Quinton de Kock’s unavailability at the start of the competition, but such has been the southpaw’s showing that he’s continued to keep de Kock on the bench. 35 games into the season, he’s only one of two openers to both average more than 30 and strike at over 150. He’s thrived across conditions and his consistency and adaptability has allowed Lucknow to start games on the front foot, more often than not.

Eyebrows were raised when LSG shelled out INR 16.00 crore for Nicholas Pooran but the southpaw has lived up to his hype, striking at 185.86. His stunning 19-ball 62 played a direct hand in LSG’s win over RCB, and he also played valuable hands against both RR and DC.

Not just the batters, LSG’s overseas quicks have been on the money too. Mark Wood started the season and made a huge impact, picking 11 wickets in 4 matches, but Naveen-ul-Haq has also been exceptional since coming in. After two games, Naveen’s figures read 8-0-38-1.

Additionally, the Impact Player rule has also been a boon for LSG, and have smartly used veteran Amit Mishra, who’s so far picked 4 wickets at an ER of 6.50. Mishra and Krunal Pandya (6 wickets @ E.R 7.17) have made life hell for opposition batters on slow and sticky wickets.

What hasn’t worked?

Despite being fourth on the table, there’s plenty that’s gone wrong for Lucknow this season. 

Skipper KL Rahul once again finds himself in the firing line due to his strike rate. He’s striking at just 113.91 this season and he was directly responsible for the side’s defeats against Punjab and Gujarat.

But while Rahul has at least been getting runs, the other Indian batters have totally gone AWOL. Between them, Hooda, Krunal and Badoni have averaged 13.47 and the biggest disappointment has been Hooda, who has had a shocking first half of IPL 2023, posting scores of 2, 2, 2, 9, 7, 2 & 17. Hooda’s form last year — 451 runs @ SR 136.67 — was integral to LSG making the playoffs, but he’s struggled immeasurably thus far.

The problems with the bat don’t end there. Like last year, LSG have struggled to get the best out of Stoinis with the bat due to not being able to find an ideal batting position for him. In fact, Lucknow have been guilty of under-utilizing both Pooran and Stoinis, who have faced just 3 and 10 more balls respectively than Krunal Pandya. 

Plus, we’re at the halfway point of the group stages and Lucknow have still not been able to identify their designated finisher. Their returns at the back-end have taken a hit as a result: their SR of 154.3 in overs 16-20 is the second-worst among all teams this season. 

Two key young Indian bowlers, Bishnoi and Avesh Khan, have also blown hot and cold.

If LSG are to go all the way, they’ll at least need to control the controllables: find a way to maximize the impact of both Pooran and Stoinis. 

Sunrisers Hyderabad

2 wins, 5 losses, ninth on the table

After an excellent auction, 2023 was supposed to be the season where Sunrisers resurrected themselves but well, let’s just say things haven’t gone according to plan.

What hasn’t worked?

Batting, bowling, fielding — everything has been problematic for the Sunrisers.

On paper, a top six of Agarwal / Abhishek / Tripathi / Markram / Brook / Klaasen looked scary, but in reality, it’s proven to be a huge miss. 

Markram and Klaasen have been blameless but the rest have all endured a shocking first half of the season.

Mayank Agarwal:  Has been a huge disappointment, averaging 23.43 and striking at 111.56, and has pretty much forgotten how to bat against spin. He’s been dismissed five times by spin this season and he averages 11.4 at a SR of 98.28 vs the tweakers.

Abhishek Sharma: Started off as opener, was then (inexplicably) dropped, came back and made an impact down the order vs KKR, was moved up again vs CSK where he played an okay-ish knock, was moved down again vs DC against whom he flopped. TL;DR: SRH’s handling of Abhishek has been a mess, and he’s also been inconsistent. 

Rahul Tripathi: Has had a shocking season by his standards (avg 26.67 and avg 112.68) and has been hopeless against pace. Tripathi vs pace in IPL 2023: 52 balls, 42 runs, 5 dismissals, SR 80.8.

Harry Brook: Had a nightmarish start batting at No.5, got promoted up the order as a result, struck a sizzling century vs KKR but failed in four other knocks as an opener. Overall impact has been negative despite the ton versus KKR. 

That’s one problematic batting unit, isn’t it?

Outside Bhuvneshwar Kumar, meanwhile, Sunrisers’ seamers have been shocking. 

Washington Sundar, despite his three-fer versus DC, has also been a serial underperformer with the ball.

Lastly, the fielding. After 35 matches, SRH’s catch efficiency of 67.6% is the worst among all sides.  

What has worked?

The form of Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen and the resurgence of Mayank Markande have been the *only* positives for SRH. 

Markande’s form — 8 wickets at an E.R of 6.70 — has allowed SRH to field an overseas seamer but the batting, and the rest of the bowling has been so poor that it hasn’t mattered. 

Delhi Capitals

2 wins, 5 losses, bottom of the table

We are officially back to the golden Delhi Daredevils days, folks.

What hasn’t worked?

You don’t often see an entire batting unit go out of form AT THE SAME TIME but that’s pretty much what’s happened to Delhi.

Two of their top three, Prithvi Shaw and Mitchell Marsh, haven’t been able to buy a run. They’ve tried three other non-Aussie overseas batters — Rilee Rossouw, Rovman Powell and Phil Salt — who, between them, have managed 56 runs at an average of 7.00. And then there's Sarfaraz Khan, who has struck at 84.61. 

Warner’s been accumulating runs but he really has made a truly ‘positive’ impact in only one knock, the 57 against KKR. His strike rate has been so low (119.53) that, despite scoring more than 300 runs, he has not really 'carried' the side. 

DC’s bowlers have by no means set the stage alight, but, despite not being penetrative, it’s hard to fault them, for they’ve been let down immeasurably by the batters. If we are to nit-pick, however, the pacers outside Anrich Nortje have been pretty average and have failed to provide any sort of cutting-edge.

Couple a completely misfiring batting lineup with an average bowling line-up, and you end up with 2 wins and 5 losses after 7 games.

What has worked?

There have been three positives for Delhi. Axar Patel and Manish Pandey’s form with the bat and Kuldeep Yadav’s form with the ball. 

These are the only things that have gone in DC’s favor. But in the grand scheme of things, all three things haven’t mattered. 

Gujarat Titans

5 wins, 2 losses, second on the table

At this point, GT are to IPL what peak Atletico Madrid were to La Liga and Champions League. Boring? On most days. Pretty? Rarely. Effective and efficient? Every single time.

What has worked?

If it was Atleti’s defence that made Simeone’s side special, it’s GT’s bowling that’s made Hardik’s side close to invincible.

Gujarat won IPL 2022 by being relentless with the ball, and it’s been pretty much the same so far in IPL 2023. At the halfway point, they have the best bowling average (21.9) among all sides.

Alzarri Joseph leveling-up has helped, but so have the additions of both Mohit Sharma and Noor Ahmad. 

Killing sides up-front with the ball has been their mantra: GT have the second-best bowling average and economy in the first six. 

Getting stung up-front against any side is not pleasant, but against this GT unit which has Rashid, Joseph (and now Noor) to operate in the middle? Good luck recovering. 

Peak Atletico Madrid’s attack was super clinical, and GT’s batting is somewhat the same. Like last season, they have no outright standout performer but every single batter has contributed in one match or another, and every single batter has executed his role to perfection.

They lost Williamson — it didn’t matter as Sai Sudharsan filled in impeccably. They lost Sudharsan — again, Abhinav Manohar stepped up big time. The biggest positive has been the form of Vijay Shankar, who’s looked like a completely different batter this season, striking at 154.16.

Amidst this, their lower-order has continued to remain as lethal as it did last season. After 35 matches, Gujarat’s SR in overs 16-20 (197.4) is the best among all sides, and they’ve hit the most sixes (27) in the death overs. 

What hasn’t worked?

GT hoped Yash Dayal would replicate his IPL 2022 heroics (where he took 11 wickets) but they had to drop him after three hideous games in which he finished with combined figures of 6-0-95-0. The Rinku Singh over was the final nail in the coffin.

But Dayal’s form hasn’t affected GT one bit, thanks to the resurgence of Mohit Sharma, who’s done an outstanding job since walking into the side: 6 wickets at an ER of 6.15 predominantly bowling outside the powerplay.

Josh Little, too, has not made a great impact — 3 wickets at E.R 9.00 — but he’s provided the odd crucial breakthrough and GT are in a place where they can afford to field a luxury player who can perform a niche role. 

Going forward, they’d be hoping to get better in the 7-15 phase. As things stand, GT have the third-worst bowling average and joint fourth-worst economy rate in the 7-15 phase in IPL 2023. 

Mumbai Indians

3 wins, 4 losses, seventh on the table

For Mumbai Indians, it’s been an interesting IPL 2023 so far. They’ve lost to every side that’s been better than them (CSK, RCB, GT, PBKS) and have beaten the three worst sides in the competition, SRH, DC and KKR. 

They are only two points shy of fourth, but you do get the feeling that qualifying will be an extremely tough ask, considering six of their seven remaining fixtures are against sides above them in the table.

What hasn’t worked?

Mumbai’s pace attack was always destined to struggle in Bumrah’s absence, but many thought that Archer’s presence would mitigate the suffering. Archer also missing 5/7 matches through injury proved to be a death sentence for the side’s inexperienced pace attack.

The pace unit has had its moments — like Arjun starting off well every game, Meredith having two good games at the death, Green’s super spell vs SRH etc — but the absence of well-rounded, world-class bowlers has hurt the team in a big way. Mumbai’s pace unit’s overall E.R (10.3) and average (34.4) ranks 9th out of 10 teams.

They’ve struggled to take wickets upfront (six wickets by pacers in 1-6, the third-worst among all sides) and have been eye-wateringly poor at the back end, leaking at an E.R of 13.4 in the 16-20 phase. 

In the last five overs, Mumbai Indians’ pacers have conceded more sixes than any other side and death bowling, it can be said, cost the team both Punjab and Gujarat encounters.

On the batting front, Mumbai have struggled to figure out whom to play where. 

Cam Green has done really well in his debut season, having already amassed 199 runs @ 49.75, but in trying to accommodate him at No.3, MI have needlessly tinkered with the batting positions of Suryakumar Yadav and Tilak Varma far too often. Tilak, for instance, has batted once at No.3, twice at No.4, thrice at No.5 and once at No.6. 

With Rohit and Ishan both blowing hot and cold up top (more cold than hot), denying Suryakumar and Tilak time out in the middle has not worked out too well for Mumbai. 

Tim David has also been disappointing whenever MI have batted first, averaging 17 while striking at just 127.5. He had golden opportunities to make a huge impact against both CSK and RCB but did not capitalize on both occasions. 

What has worked?

The performance of Piyush Chawla (11 wickets @ E.R 7.11) has been the single-biggest boon for Mumbai. It has solved them a huge problem on the bowling front. 

Deploying Arjun Tendulkar as a powerplay specialist has also worked. Arjun has bowled 7 overs in the powerplay so far (opening the bowling every single time) and has managed to maintain an E.R of 6.4. This is a ploy that they can stick with in the second half of the campaign too. 

Cam Green is still a work in progress in T20 cricket but he’s already shown he could be a devastating match-winner with the bat in hand. He’s already played three invaluable hands. 

Tilak Varma — 215 runs @ 154.22 SR — has arguably been Mumbai’s best batter this season, but the management have unfortunately not been able to utilize the youngster to the fullest due to the amount of traffic present in the top and middle-order. 

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