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IPL 2018 | What worked, what didn't, and what next - a comprehensive IPL review

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IPL 2018 | What worked, what didn't, and what next - a comprehensive IPL review

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Subhayan Dutta


The eleventh edition of the Indian Premier League came to an end on Sunday with the outcome expected to some while unbelievable to others. We take a look at what worked, what didn’t and what could be the future course of action for all the franchises after two months of total madness.

Chennai Super Kings

What worked : CSK won the title for the third time in nine seasons, hence quite a few things needed to go in their favour. The biggest of them was, undoubtedly, Ambati Rayudu alongside a hot and cold Shane Watson. The last thing was MS Dhoni. The skipper returned to his favourite colours in a superior form as he amassed 455 this season that included three 50s. Apart from the batting, Deepak Chahar remained MSD’s main weapon whenever he was fit with a late pinch of brutal pace and movement by CSK new golden-eyed boy Lungi Ngidi. Shardul Thakur continued his IPL heroics for a second straight season, as he claimed 16 wickets.

What didn’t work : CSK had to part ways with Ravichandran Ashwin under dubious circumstances with many claiming that the captain didn’t really want him. However, while that was perfectly okay, CSK’s ploy to go with Karn Singh and Harbhajan Singh as backups didn’t really execute well. The duo jointly took 11 wickets in 19 games and if not for Ravindra Jadeja’s 11-wicket haul in the tournament, CSK could have been in trouble.

What next : Despite a title-winning season, CSK walked a thin rope for most of the games with almost every match finding someone up for to the challenge. CSK fielded an ageing squad and if it didn’t affect them this season, it is more than likely to haunt them next year. Stephen Fleming would want to look for potential backups before next season, especially quality spinners.

Sunrisers Hyderabad

What worked : Well, in simple words, their bowling worked and it worked in a manner that no other team could really decrypt their multilayer code. SRH went throughout the season with three pacers and two spinners, with almost all of them firing cylinders. Rashid Khan and Siddarth Kaul led the charge with a whopping 21 wickets each in 17 games, with Sandeep Sharma (12 wickets) also aiding from time to time. While batting wasn’t their strong suit, Kane Williamson was a treat to watch nonetheless as he ended with the orange cap garnering 735 runs.

What didn’t work : SRH had one of most balanced squads after the mega-auction with almost every player expected to chip in at some point or other. However, their biggest void in the middle-order was formed by a misfiring Manish Pandey - KKR’s star in previous seasons - who could only garner 284 runs in 15 matches. Yusuf Pathan, a little less disappointing than Pandey, also failed to maximize his abilities. And of course, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the purple cap from last season, ended with just 9 wickets from 12 games, albeit in a injury-plagued season. 

What next : While SRH management would still want to gamble on Pandey next season, given how the likes of Rayudu and Watson rejuvenated this year, middle order would need sorting for them. Also, the big doubt of David Warner remains with the IPL happening just before the World Cup.

Kolkata Knight Riders

What worked : The biggest thing that worked for the Kolkata-based franchise was their retentions. While Sunil Narine finished the season with 17 wickets and 357 runs, Andre Russell ended it with 351 runs coming mostly at number 5 or 6, and 13 wickets. However, Russell’s presence was felt more for his whopping 184.79 strike rate that stood out. KKR came into the tournament as a bowling heavy side and quite expectantly, both Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav pitched in with 31 wickets between them.

Apart from bowling, KKR’s huge gamble with Dinesh Karthik paid off as the new skipper ended the season with 498 runs and was a lynchpin in KKR’s run-chases. Young Shubman Gill and Shivam Mavi remained an interesting understudy and should come around well next season.

What didn’t work : KKR had to take a huge decision in holding on to Robin Uthappa over Manish Pandey, and while on a comparative level it turned out to be a right call, on an individual basis, Uthappa was a flop. Mithcell Starc’s pre-season injury had almost halved KKR’s bowling arsenal and with Tom Curran, Vinay Kumar and Mitchell Johnson also not clicking, their pace battery remained handicapped.

What next : Getting an injury prone Starc shouldn’t be a wise decision for the franchise next season and Cricket Australia would also be cautious about sending him just before World Cup. KKR would need a more stable number 3 up top and an experienced middle-order.

Rajasthan Royals

What worked : RR packed a lot of punch after the mega-auctions with the likes of Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes in their side. However, only a few of them clicked and that too occasionally, leaving Ajinkay Rahane very little to fight with. However, Rahane found a utility player in Krishnappa Gowtham, who ended the season with 11 wickets and was also handy in pulling his team out of tricky situations with some massive sixes. 

What didn’t work : The skipper himself didn’t play up to the expectation. With Steve Smith stepping down from captaincy at the last moment following sandpaper gate, the pressure was too much for Rahane to handle. Stokes’ absence from international cricket had also mellowed down this IPL season and D’Arcy Short’s horrendous debut made it even worse. Heinrich Klaasen was evidently struggling while Archer’s performance remained mediocre at best. It needed some huge luck with other results for RR to progress into the playoffs. 

What next : The management would need to have a more fixed eleven to start with, which wasn’t possible with numerous experiments this time. Rahul Tripathi got a chance at the top too little too late, and Jaydev Unadkat’s abilities would be needing a bit more polishing. Royals would be hoping for a better middle order that was pretty much non-existent the entire season.

Mumbai Indians

What worked : Mumbai failing to qualify for the playoffs was probably the biggest upset of IPL 2018, and it had largely to do with the collective misfiring of their stalwarts. However, the three-time champions did see some pleasantly surprising displays by Mayank Markande and Suryakumar Yadav, which was enough to take them within touching distance of the playoffs spot. Jasprit Bumrah remained the only star, who performed as per expectations.

What didn’t : Their biggest gun, Rohit Sharma didn’t work, with the Pandya brothers only contributing in bits and parts. While Mitchell McClenaghan did look like he was getting into his groove at times, there was none to aide him. In short, MI’s season saw a big amount of mediocrity gelled in with inconsistent performers. Whether it was Ishan Kishan batting up the order or Ben Cutting downwards, Mumbai saw no players rising up when the team needed the most. 

What next : Mumbai would have to do away with big names, who were kept only as crowd-puller so far. Mahela Jayawardene didn’t flinch while benching Kieron Pollard midseason and it was enough indication that the Windies giant could be out of the squad next season. Hardik Pandya should come under review and a booming all-rounder looks like a must for the franchise now, which will be a tough job if MI are looking to buy. However, the franchise is known for its solid scouting team who has previously unearthed players like Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya and more, and they might surprise us with yet another new name next year.

Royal Challengers Bangalore

What worked : If gone by sheer numbers then Virat Kohli and Umesh Yadav were the only two performers who could bother the opponents with their skill set, but RCB would also be indebted to the likes of Moeen Ali, Tim Southee, and most importantly AB de Villiers for bringing them agonizingly close to the playoffs. RCB’s talked about balanced bowling only saw Mohammed Siraj showing up, apart from Yadav.

What didn’t : A lot of things didn’t go their way this season. Brendon McCullum faltered hugely up top, with compatriot Corey Anderson remaining a huge disappointment as well. From the Indian side, both Mandeep Singh and Manan Vohra were a huge failure with RCB’s retained Sarfaraz Khan remaining largely a second fiddle. And another huge flaw to point out in RCB’s campaign would have to be the management of Daniel Vettori. The former Kiwi skipper looked under tremendous pressure to get results, which didn’t see players like Vohra, Pawan Negi, Washington Sundar and more get games under their belt.

What next : RCB have been trophyless for 11 years now and I sincerely believe that they need a change in the head management to see things happen now. They have had only two core players in the last few years and never a fixed squad that could be a proper backup for them. Probably, both Kohli and de Villers are irreplaceable but IPL have now proved many times now that either they are not always enough, or they need reliable backups.

Kings XI Punjab

What worked : It was incredible how KXIP lost five games in a row to move from the third position to the seventh, making a puddle of the playoffs competition. As usual, Punjab had individual performers that would put any player from the winning team to shame, but when it came to a collective performance - they were terrible. KL Rahul and Andrew Tye would be in everyone’s IPL 2018 XI, with Mujeeb-ur-Rahman on the verge of greatness.

What didn’t : Apart from the three names mentioned above, Punjab had nothing going their way - be it Chris Gayle’s bat or Ravichandran Ashwin’s captaincy. India’s domestic tournament hero, Mayank Agarwal remained a huge failure with hard-hitters like Aaron Finch and David Miller not making any mark whatsoever. The captaincy affected Ashwin’s performance with the ball as well as he could manage just 10 wickets in 14 games, which was terrible given his experience.   

What next : The new captain will obviously given more time to get his tactics and philosophy right but Virender Sehwag would definitely want more stability in the side. Like MI, Punjab will have to part ways with the crowd-puller, Yuvraj Singh, and they could possibly get in more all-rounders to make a difference. However, the team could see yet another major revamp next season after Gayle, Miller and Finch, all putting up uncertain performances. This makes planning extremely tough for the franchise.

Delhi Daredevils

What worked: A title-winning coach in Ricky Ponting and a title-winning captain in Gautam Gambhir, and DD still managed to find their favourite place on the table - rock bottom. Pretty much nothing worked for the team apart from the fierce Rishabh Pant. Apart from him, there were the likes of Shreyas Iyer, Prithvi Shaw and Vijay Shankar in batting, who had their moments but remained largely dormant. In bowling, Trent Boult had yet another noticeable season and it was a pity that he had no support whatsoever from the likes of Liam Plunkett, Mohammad Shami or Dan Christian. 

What didn’t : Among the biggest failures were Gautam Gambhir, Glenn Maxwell and Colin Munro. All three had successful IPL seasons in the past and both the management and the crowd expected fireworks from them, but they were mightily disappointed. Ponting’s frequent squad rotation didn’t help much either. 

What next : Maxwell could be a name Ponting would want to leave out before the next season starts. The all-rounder was one of their biggest bets at the mega-auction after his successful tri-series just preceding IPL, and he didn’t show up in any of the games managing just 169 runs in 12 matches. Youngster Abhishek Sharma should be expecting more game time next season and so will be Shaw, who will have calmer heads next time. DD would have to resist themselves from going all out in the transfer market again.

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