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IPL 2023 Mid-Season Review: Nothing going wrong for CSK, nothing going right for KKR

article_imageTRENDS ANALYSIS
Last updated on 24 Apr 2023 | 03:44 PM
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IPL 2023 Mid-Season Review: Nothing going wrong for CSK, nothing going right for KKR

Chennai Super Kings sit firmly at the top of the table while Kolkata Knight Riders have lost their way

By Monday (April 24), six teams have played seven games, marking their halfway journey in the tournament. We review five of them in Part 1 of our mid-season review.

Chennai Super Kings

5 wins, 2 losses, 10 points, first on the points table

What has worked

Once again, Chennai didn’t seem the most well-oiled side on paper. And once again, the MS Dhoni magic has ascended them to the top of the points table. How else will you describe their pace attack with such little international experience punching above its weight? 

CSK bowlers were expected to suffer in the death overs but Dhoni has made it work again with astute planning. They have the second-best economy at the death. Matheesha Pathirana has been a revelation, maintaining an economy of only 6.1 in his seven overs at the death. Tushar Deshpande has picked up after a foul start. 

In the middle-overs, the spinners have choked the opposition in the home conditions of Chepauk (7 economy, 15.3 bowling average). 

Moving onto their batting, they have simply been the best. Their top four are in healthy condition with Devon Conway, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shivam Dube and Ajinkya Rahane scoring over 180 runs each. All of them have a strike-rate in excess of 140. 

Rahane’s resurgence has engineered one of the biggest WTF moments in IPL history. In five outings, he has already won CSK two games. It is astonishing to see CSK rise to the top again despite Deepak Chahar and Ben Stokes’ unavailability for most of this first half.  

What has not worked

Probably nothing. We are not exaggerating. Everyone in the side, including Dhoni himself as a batter, has exceeded expectations. If you have to be harsh, you can point out Moeen Ali’s fielding and Ambati Rayudu’s batting but none of them have had a lasting say on CSK’s fortunes thus far. 

Rajasthan Royals

4 wins, 3 losses, 8 points, second on the points table

What has worked

Placed second on the points table, Rajasthan have plenty of things going their way.  

Like last year, they have kept Shimron Hetmyer as their designated finisher. And the left-hander has responded well, scoring most runs in the death overs this season. They have come at a strike-rate of 191.7. 

Dhruv Jurel is third on this list, scoring at 188.2. In Jurel, Rajasthan have materialized the potential of one of the younger members of their squad. Not many sides have been able to achieve that. 

Trent Boult’s first-over exploits are the most captivating aspect of the team. In the six games where Boult has bowled the first over, he has struck six times, at an economy of 2.5. It is amazing consistency in terms of providing early breakthroughs to the side. 

Ravichandran Ashwin’s enhanced ability to pick wickets has also come in handy. It is only the first half of the season and he is closing in on his tally of wickets (9) from the previous season (12). 

In other notable pointers, Rajasthan have the best economy rate in the slog overs (9 runs per over). Also, their batting numbers against spin are mighty impressive. They have bashed spinners at 9 runs per over while averaging 66.3, both the best by any team this year. 

What has not worked

The real Sanju Samson is yet to show up with the bat. The skipper has not looked out of form but is short of runs by his standards. He has 181 runs (average 25.9, strike-rate 158.8) but has bagged two ducks alongside another single-digit score. Rajasthan rely heavily on Samson in the middle-order. While others have overshadowed his failures, they need him to be more consistent with the bat. 

In a similar vein, Jos Buttler started well (three fifties in the first four games) but has managed only 40 runs in the last three innings. His dip currently looms as a potential threat for Rajasthan going forward. 

Rajasthan also have below-par numbers versus pace (second lowest average). They would also appreciate some support for Trent Boult in the powerplay. Boult has scalped seven wickets in the first six overs while others have combined to pick only two. 

Royal Challengers Bangalore

4 wins, 3 losses, 8 points, fifth on the points table

What has worked

RCB are not often associated with consistency and this season has not been much different. It took them their seventh game to pull together two wins in a row. They have lost two home games that they should have won - against LSG and CSK. 

However, thanks to a few players who have kept RCB in contention. The trio of Faf du Plessis, Glenn Maxwell, Virat Kohli with the bat and Mohammed Siraj with the ball have done more than expected already. 

The batting trio has overshadowed various chinks in their batting line-up. Together, they have scored 74.2% of the team’s runs. Kohli and du Plessis have ensured at least one of them bats long. Maxwell has used the Chinnaswamy Stadium to get back to form after a gap of four months from professional cricket. He averages 62 at a strike-rate of 196.8 at home this season. 

Siraj has been in thunderous form. He has seven wickets in the powerplay at only 11.1 runs apiece and 4.9 runs per over. Unlike RR, he has plenty of support in the first six overs, with another nine wickets coming from the other end. Hence, RCB have the best powerplay bowling numbers this season. It has enabled them to defend some under-par scores. 

Not to forget, RCB have improved their fielding standards. They have looked pumped up in the field and have translated the same in producing some dismissals in the field. 

What has not worked

None of RCB’s young Indian batters have delivered in the season. None of Mahipal Lomror, Anuj Rawat, Shahbaz Ahmed and Suyash Prabhudesai have 50 runs as yet. Dinesh Karthik is nowhere close to repeating his success as a finisher from last year. Consequently, RCB have struggled to achieve big finishes with the bat. 

In another miss, RCB spinners have not been as effective. Their bowling average of 32.6 is the second worst in the season. The economy of 10.4 is more than two runs per over expensive than any other side. It is the aftermath of Wanindu Hasaranga’s form. 

RCB’s lead-spinner, Hasaranga missed the first three games due to national duty. Post that, he has snapped four wickets in four matches but has leaked runs at 9.9 runs per over. He replaced Karn Sharma in the side who went at 10.6 in three games. 

These are the few missing pieces due to which RCB have not gained consistency despite playing some entertaining cricket. 

Punjab Kings

4 wins, 3 losses, 8 points, sixth on the points table

What has worked 

Another inconsistent side, Punjab have managed to notch up four wins, all of which were close games. 

They are not on the top of the table of any metric. However, they don’t lag behind on many metrics as well. The form of some of the Indian players has been a heartening aspect of their campaign. 

Shikhar Dhawan was the Orange Cap holder before he had to sit out owing to an injury. Prabhsimran Singh (159 at a strike-rate of 159) seems to have finally come to the fore in the league. Shahrukh Khan has won two games in the finisher’s role. And Arshdeep Singh’s form has been the biggest positive. Walking into the season after some poor games for India, Arshdeep has pouched 13 wickets. His economy of 8.2 is quite impressive given his role as the designated death overs’ bowler. 

What has not worked 

Spin bowling is where Punjab have suffered the most. Their bowling average of 48.7 is the worst for any side. Their lead spinner, Rahul Chahar has picked only two wickets in seven games. 

Their overseas players haven’t gelled well as a unit. Barring Sam Curran, everyone else have performed in patches. 

Last but not the least, they are handicapped by a string of injuries. They lost Jonny Bairstow before the season itself. Since then, Raj Bawa is ruled out due to an injury. Liam Livingstone joined the squad late and both Dhawan and Kagiso Rabada are nursing niggles. Therefore, they have not been able to field their first-choice XI. 

A half-polished side, Punjab have a long way to go. Add a little more consistency and they can be a force to reckon with. They have time but need to act immediately. 

Kolkata Knight Riders

2 wins, 5 losses, 4 points, eighth on the points table

What has worked

Nothing has gone wrong for CSK and hardly anything has gone right for KKR. But in a few silver-linings, they finally have a centurion after 15 years as Venkatesh Iyer smashed 104 off 51 balls against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium. 

Rinku Singh and Suyash Sharma’s form has underlined players for the future. With the ball, Varun Chakaravarthy has been consistently good without breaking down. KKR’s chances of playoff qualifications are low but they have positives to hold on to for the upcoming seasons. 

What has not worked 

KKR have lost their last four games. A common pattern across those defeats: they were poor in what they did first, be it batting or bowling. In the only two games they have won, they were bailed out by outrageous batting efforts from Shardul Thakur and Rinku Singh. 

Their ill batting fortunes in the powerplay have continued from the previous season. KKR batters averaged 22.6 in the powerplay in IPL 2022. This year, it has further dipped to 19.3. Both seasons, it has been the lowest among all 10 teams. 

None of their pacers have been threatening with the ball. Their bowling average of 59.3 is alarmingly high even considering the batting-friendly nature of their home track at Eden Gardens. 

Umesh Yadav has been the biggest disappointment. KKR’s strike bowler last year, Umesh has only one wicket in seven games this season. 

They have been further handicapped by Andre Russell’s under-par batting form. In seven games, Russell has four single-digit scores. 

A lot needs to go right from here for KKR to progress to the playoffs. 

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