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IPL 2019 mid-season review: where the teams stand and what they need to do



Halfway through IPL 2019, how have teams fared? What are their biggest strengths, and what potential strategy changes can they employ to make up for their weaknesses? Here’s an analysis.

Note: All stats and numbers updated till Mumbai v RCB on April 15.

Chennai Super Kings: 14 points

Making the best use of home conditions, Super Kings have started the season at an all-time high, winning seven of their eight matches. Last year, their batsmen had to make up for the bowlers in batting-friendly conditions in Pune (their home games were moved out of Chennai). This season, it has been the bowlers that have made up for the batsmen in spin-friendly conditions at Chepauk, on a pitch that has been criticised by many including captain MS Dhoni. What has not changed is Super Kings having multiple match-winners, which has once again made the defending champions strong favourites in the title race.

Impact performers

  • MS Dhoni – 230 runs at an average of 76.66 and a strike rate of 127.07

  • Imran Tahir– 13 wickets at an economy rate of 5.76 and a strike rate of 13.8

  • Harbhajan Singh– 7 wickets at an economy rate of 5.12 and a strike rate of 13.7

  • Deepak Chahar– 10 wickets at an economy rate of 6.64 and a strike rate of 18.6

What can they improve?
Super Kings’ batting has the highest dot-ball percentage and the lowest balls per boundary figure in this IPL. They also have the lowest average (18.68) and the lowest run rate (6.22) in the Powerplay. Shane Watson has been weak in the first half and the team needs good starts from him.

Death bowling also remains a concern, with Super Kings having three of the top five most expensive death bowlers since IPL 2018.

Potential strategy change

Dhoni never likes to tinker with the playing XI. Still, Sam Billings for Watson might be something Super Kings could try out.

Availability: All overseas players are available

Delhi Capital: 10 points

A change in name has resulted in a change in their game. Capitals have made a sound start to the season, and are well-placed to claim a spot in the playoffs. A vibrant and young squad, consistency in selection and team effort are the ingredients that let them recover from a shaky first few matches. This is also a team of varied match-winners, and one of their big strengths has been death bowling. It’s the best in the competition so far, with 25 wickets at the death at an economy rate of 8.43 and an average of 9.56.

Impact performers

  • Kagiso Rabada – 17 wickets at an economy rate of 7.70 and a strike rate of 10.9

  • Shreyas Iyer – 266 runs at an average of 33.25 and a strike rate of 120.36

What can they improve?
While batting in the Powerplay, they have lost 12 wickets at an average of 31.58 – the second lowest in the league. Shikhar Dhawan couldn’t get going at the start of the season, before hitting 97* against Kolkata Knight Riders, but he and Prithvi Shaw will have to provide more consistent and rapid starts at the business end of IPL 2019.

Potential strategy change
Who among Axar Patel, Rahul Tewatia and Amit Mishra are likely to play the high-pressure games is something the team should look to solve in the next six games.

Availability: All overseas players are available.

Mumbai Indians: 10 points

Mumbai have won five of their first eight games, a change from their tag of being perennial slow starters. And this is despite stars like Rohit Sharma and Krunal Pandya having not yet made a big impact, and the team having scored well below par on at least three occasions.

Impact performers

  • Kieron Pollard – 185 runs at an average of 37.00 and a strike rate of 177.88

  • Hardik Pandya– 186 runs at an average of 46.50 and a strike rate of 191.75

  • Jasprit Bumrah – 8 wickets at an economy rate of 6.81 and a strike rate of 23.0

What can they improve?
Mumbai’s batting average in the middle overs (7-16) is just 23, and they have lost 27 wickets in that period – the most for any team in the league.

The bowling of the Pandya brothers has also been below par so far: Hardik has gone at 9.91 runs per over, while Krunal has taken just five wickets while conceding runs at 8.28 per over.

Potential strategy change
Perhaps Hardik and Pollard could be split to ensure that there is a run rate acceleration in the middle overs too. Krunal, Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav can float according to the situation.

Another possible change is getting Bumrah to bowl more in the Powerplay. Right now the overseas options of Lasith Malinga, Jason Behrendorff and Alzarri Joseph (in the three games he played) have done the majority of the Powerplay bowling. Mumbai could get Bumrah to bowl a couple of overs and target early wickets, and Hardik can focus on bowling in the middle overs.

Availability: Jason Behrendorff will leave after May 1.

Kolkata Knight Riders: 8 points

This has been a strange first half for Knight Riders. Having got off the blocks with four successive wins on the back Andre Russell’s all-round brilliance, Dinesh Karthik’s team has now lost three consecutive matches. Historically, Knight Riders have dominated at home, but this year they have lost two of the three games played there. Their top order has failed consistently with Robin Uthappa, Sunil Narine and Nitish Rana being patchy. Karthik, too, is yet to make an impactful score.

Impact performers

What can they improve?
Knight Riders have depended on three spinners for a long time, but this season they have not delivered. Has the team become a bit too predictable with plans and personnel? The spinners average 39.11 and have an economy rate of 7.93 this season, the joint second worst on both counts.

Potential strategy change
Break the Narine-Chris Lynn opening combination and let Uthappa, or even Shubman Gill, bat at the top.

Availability: All overseas players are available.

Kings X1 Punjab: 8 points

With four wins and four losses, Kings XI have their task cut out in the remaining six games. But they remain in contention for the knockouts. They have wonone match which they should not have, and lost two that they should have won. The loss against Mumbai at Wankhede Stadium could come back to haunt them, as they would have had five wins at the halfway mark if they had pulled through.

Impact performers

  • R Ashwin – 9 wickets at an economy rate of 7.62 and a strike rate of 21.3

  • Chris Gayle – 322 runs at an average of 53.66 and a strike rate of 157.07

  • KL Rahul – 355 runs at an average of 67.00 and a strike rate of 130.85

What can they improve?
Gayle and Rahul have contributed 50% of the runs, but the middle order has failed to capitalise on the starts. In the middle overs, Kings XI have slowed down, resulting in under-par totals.

Potential strategy change
Including Moises Henriques not only provides balance to the batting order, but also provides a sixth bowling option. Also, Mujeeb Ur Rahman needs to play the remaining matches because he can tie up an end as well as take wickets with his mystery spin.

Availability: All overseas players are available.

Sunrisers Hyderabad: 6 points

Last year’s runners-up, Sunrisers have been disappointing mainly due to the failure of their much-vaunted bowling attack and a near non-existent middle order. If Sunrisers are afloat, the credit goes to the overseas opening pair of David Warner and Jonny Bairstow. They have not only provided explosive starts, but also gone on to bat deep. But with both men expected to leave for their teams’ World Cup preparations, Sunrisers need to get their batting sorted if they want to advance to the playoffs.

Impact performers

  • David Warner – 400 runs at an average of 80.00 and a strike rate of 140.35

  • Jonny Bairstow – 304 runs at an average of 43.42 and a strike rate of 156.70

  • Rashid Khan – 6 wickets at an economy rate of 5.78 and a strike rate of 28.00

  • Mohammad Nabi – 7 wickets at an economy rate of 5.49 and a strike rate of 13.5

What can they improve?
If last year the team was dependent on Shikhar Dhawan and Kane Williamson, this year they have been heavily reliant on Warner and Bairstow. The two have scored 66% of their team’s runs. Meanwhile, Nos. 4-11 average just 12.75 and score at a run rate of 6.83, which is the lowest in this IPL.

Potential strategy change
A slightly radical suggestion: Williamson could open with Bairstow while Warner drops one slot, just to ensure at least one of the three main batsmen stays till the end.

Availability: Shakib Al Hasan could leave for national duty around the start of May. Bairstow and Warner likely to leave on April 25 and May 1 respectively.

Rajasthan Royals: 4 points

Royals are not in the pink of health. The team, which has changed its colours to a bright pink, is precariously placed with just two wins and five losses. Mistakes from last season have not been rectified, with Royals carrying four potential openers in the top seven, and certain players in key positions performing similar roles. In a tournament where early momentum is key to a playoff spot, Royals are still figuring out their best XI. Their dependency on Jos Buttler is hurting them. Last season, Buttler single-handedly took them to the playoffs, but Royals are likely to lose his services soon this year.

Impact performers

  • Jos Buttler – 288 runs at an average of 41.14 and a strike rate of 153.19

  • Shreyas Gopal – 8 wickets at an economy rate of 6.41 and a strike rate of 18

  • Jofra Archer – 7 wickets at an economy rate of 7.22 and a strike rate of 23.1

What can they improve?
In the last four overs, Royals’ economy rate is 12.17 – the worst this IPL. Additionally, they have taken only eight wickets in the death overs. Dhawal Kulkarni, Jaydev Unadkat and Ben Stokes have gone at 18.50, 16.00 and 12.8 respectively in the last four.

Potential strategy change
Include the likes of Ashton Turner and Oshane Thomas ahead of Steven Smith and Stokes to improve the middle-overs batting and death bowling. Look to open with Rahul Tripathi to plan for Buttler’s departure.

Availability: Buttler and Stokes will be available only till April 25, as will Jofra Archer if he is selected in England’s World Cup squad (the announcement is due on Wednesday). Smith is expected to leave by May 1.

Royal Challengers Bangalore: 2 points

Royal Challengers’ campaign has almost ground to a halt at the halfway stage. Just one win with six games left means a playoff spot is highly improbable. Their dependence on Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers has not changed. In their only win this season, in Mohali against Kings XI, Kohli and de Villiers made fifties in the chase. The matches they came close to winning were also due to the performances of these two.

Impact performers

  • Virat Kohli – 278 runs at an average of 34.75 and a strike rate of 124.66

  • AB de Villiers – 307 runs at an average of 51.16 and a strike rate of 154.27

  • Yuzvendra Chahal – 11 wickets at an economy rate of 7.07 and a strike rate of 15.2

What can they improve?
The bowling needs to improve in key phases of the match – in the Powerplay and at the death. In the first six overs, Royal Challengers have taken only three wickets at an average of 140.33 and an economy rate of 8.77. In the last four overs, their economy rate is 11.50.

Potential strategy change
With the return of Dale Steyn, Royal Challengers would be hoping that their Powerplay and death-overs performances improve. The franchise paid big money for Mumbai’s batting allrounder Shivam Dube, who needs to be given more games to build his confidence.

Availability: Moeen Ali is available till April 25 if he is picked in England’s World Cup squad, and Marcus Stoinis is expected to leave by May 1.

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Nicole Bolton shows early-season form on return to action



Nicole Bolton made an impressive return to action for Western Australia with back-to-back half-centuries on the opening weekend of the Women’s National Cricket League (WNCL).

Bolton, who was part of the Australia squad that retained the Ashes in England in July, opted out of the tour of West Indies to focus on her mental health following a previous break from the game last season.

In the first two matches for Western Australia she struck 77 off 106 balls against Queensland and 63 off 80 balls against Tasmania to help her side begin with a brace of victories. In the Tasmania game she also picked up 2 for 26 from her 10 overs.

Speaking at the end of the West Indies tour, Australia coach Matthew Mott said he had been in contact with Bolton over recent weeks.

“Bolts and I have been in touch via WhatsApp and she’s in a really good frame of mind and looking forward to the first round of the WNCL,” Mott said. “For her it’s just about reentering and getting back into the swing of things and hopefully scoring some runs, but she seems really happy which is great.”

Australia will name their T20I and ODI squads on Wednesday for the series against Sri Lanka that starts at the end of month. After a cleansweep in the Caribbean, Mott said that he did not foresee many changes.

Bolton, who isn’t considered as a T20I player, featured in the three ODIs on the Ashes tour with scores of 2, 1 and 4 while also playing in the Test.

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Recent Match Report – Barbados Tridents vs Guyana Amazon Warriors, Caribbean Premier League, 19th Match



Guyana Amazon Warriors 81 for 2 (King 51*) beat Barbados Tridents 138 (Duminy 38, Green 4-14, Tahir 2-22) by 12 runs (DLS method)

Guyana Amazon Warriors kept their perfect season rolling with an eight-wicket win in a shortened chase against Barbados Tridents. Their win was built on yet another impressive performance from their bowlers, particularly their spinners. Chris Green took a career-best 4 for 14, and Imran Tahir and Shoaib Malik took three between them as the spinners combined for figures of 11.3-0-46-7 to dismiss Tridents for 138. Tridents’ spinners couldn’t come into play as effectively, as Brandon King‘s unbeaten fifty led the way in a chase that was stopped halfway by rain with Amazon Warriors comfortably ahead of the par score.

They now have 12 points in six matches, which means they have sealed a playoff spot, while Tridents stay in fourth place with four points in five games.

A cracking start with the bat

After being put in, Tridents were served several short and wide balls by Keemo Paul in the first over, with a free hit also thrown in. They made 17 off that over, but Johnson Charles had also departed, slicing a cut to third man.

Alex Hales, returning from the Vitality Blast, found his timing and played smart shots – flicks over square leg and one imperious cut through the covers. JP Duminy, caught in a rut last match, came out attacking too, picking up 14 off three in one sequence. Once again, it was Paul at the receiving end, with his second over going for 18. Tridents were 63 for 2 after the Powerplay.

The spinners turn the game

The very first ball after the Powerplay, Hales crunched a slog sweep against Tahir, but couldn’t get enough elevation on it. He picked out Hetmyer at deep midwicket. Tahir made it a double-wicket over off the last ball, screeching desperately as Jonathan Carter was struck on the front pad. After long consideration, the umpire nodded his head and raised his finger. Carter wasn’t pleased, but replays showed the legbreak had turned enough to hit him in line.

Jason Holder then struggled during his short stay, being beaten twice on the inside edge by Malik and Tahir, before chipping one to long-on off Malik. Amazon Warriors had used spin to apply a squeeze in their last match as well, with Malik playing the fourth spinner’s role. On Sunday, he bowled four overs for ten runs.

With the middle order melting rapidly, Green was back to bowl in the final stages of the innings and had Ashley Nurse stumped, Duminy caught at deep square leg, and closed the innings off with wickets of consecutive deliveries.

A no-fuss chase

Chandrapaul Hemraj struggled for rhythm but did just enough to put up yet another formidable opening stand with King. They put on 61 in seven overs before Hemraj chipped one back off Sandeep Lamichhane. He’d hit one handsome shot, a back-foot punch over extra cover for six previously but fell for 20 off 23.

Shimron Hetmyer was out top-edging Duminy next over, but King had done enough to keep the pressure at bay. He hit three sixes, one running down the track and two rooted to the crease to lift over the leg side, and hit back-to-back boundaries square on either side just before rain stopped play. By that time, he was on 49 off 30 with Malik at the other end. The DLS par score was 61 for 2, and Amazon Warriors were 16 ahead.

When play resumed an hour and 15 minutes later, the revised target was 97 – 20 to win off four overs – and King brought up his fifty in the only over bowled before rain returned.

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Kohli content to take setbacks to challenge India’s comfort zones



Having spent his entire IPL career at Royal Challengers Bangalore, Virat Kohli knows that it is easier to chase at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. He knows that the dew often sets in later in the evening and neutralises the threat posed by his spinners. Yet, with the series on the line, he chose to bat first in the third T20I against South Africa. He challenged himself and his team-mates to step out of their comfort zones, as India tune up for the T20 World Cup in Australia next year.

After Kohli became the first captain to decide against chasing in six T20Is at this venue, before Sunday, several batsmen dared to jump out of the crease to manufacture scoring opportunities, a departure from India’s ODI-style T20 approach. Rishabh Pant was trialled at No.4 once again (although he wasn’t supposed to bat at that spot), but India’s experiments didn’t quite come off, and a revamped South Africa side claimed a series-levelling victory.

Left-arm seamer Beuran Hendricks had Rohit Sharma nicking off for 9 in the third over, but Shikhar Dhawan laid down the marker when he hit Andile Phehlukwayo for back-to-back boundaries in the next over. He first shuffled across to off, aiming to pick up the ball over midwicket, but found enough time to adjust and punch it through the line. He then looked to cart the next ball over extra-cover, but instead only managed to carve it down to the third-man fence.

Dhawan usually prefers to bide his time – be it in T20 or ODI cricket – but here he hung up caution and decided to have a proper crack at South Africa’s bowlers. He slugged left-arm wristspinner Tabraiz Shami’s first two balls for six. In the next over he fiercely slog-swept left-arm fingerspinner Bjorn Fortuin through square leg. He regularly flitted around the crease in a bid to force the bowlers into bowling in his swinging arc.

India were fairly well placed at 62 for 1 in seven overs, but then the pitch suddenly became slower and South Africa’s bowlers exploited it efficiently to throw a spanner in their works. When Dhawan advanced down the pitch to Shamsi once again, the spinner cleverly tossed the ball up higher and shifted his lines wider to draw a mis-hit to extra-cover. Soon after, Kohli similarly sent a full ball from Kagiso Rabada in the air where Phehlukwayo plucked an outstanding catch at deep midwicket.

ALSO READ – Monga: India haven’t figured out their T20 game, but they’re willing to change

Despite the pitch getting slower and wickets falling at both ends, India were keen to find higher gears. Pant took on Fortuin, but the left-armer slid one across the batsman and had him slicing a catch to long-off. Two balls later, Shreyas Iyer ventured out of the crease and was stumped by a leg-side wide.

Suddenly India lost 4 for 29 and although they had depth in their batting line-up – Washington Sundar at No. 9 and Deepak Chahar at 10 – they couldn’t get the big hits away on a pitch that was now very responsive to the cutters and change-ups from Hendricks and Phehlukwayo. Not even Hardik Pandya could get the big hits away.

India scrambled only four boundaries after Iyer’s dismissal in the 13th over and ended with a below-par 134 for 9.

“Yes, we wanted to go for a big score and that’s exactly why we batted first,” Kohli said of India’s fresh T20 approach. “In the past, in certain games in T20 cricket, we have been 20-30 runs short, batting first. “That has cost us the game. So, the idea again, as I said at the toss, was to come out of our comfort zone and then try to get that big score because we are batting till No. 9. But quickly we realised the pitch didn’t allow us to keep doing that.”

Kohli reckoned that India would have been better off had they recalibrated their focus to 170 “rather than thinking of 200”.

“Because of the intent we showed the pitch obviously didn’t allow us to get to that total and we kept losing wickets. They [South Africa] hit the right areas and understood the pitch. It was a combination of good bowling and not great decision-making. These kinds of games will keep happening as long as we are wanting to come out of our comfort zones as a team and putting ourselves in a situation, which could be the case in a big game in a big tournament.”

Kohli’s bat-first decision also handicapped his bowlers who had to cope with the dew in the second innings. While Washington came away with 4-0-27-0 and Deepak Chahar found swing in the early exchanges, Navdeep Saini and Krunal Pandya struggled with their lines and lengths. Nearly every Indian fielder had a towel, often furiously wiping the ball with it in the break between overs.

Quinton de Kock took advantage of it, making a bruising, unbeaten 79 off 52 balls, and finished off the chase with nine wickets and 19 balls to spare. While such a heavy defeat might invite some pressure, Kohli said that India are ready to take more risks and “take the toss out of the way” in their run to the T20 World Cup.

“Nothing is a given or a guarantee before you start playing,” Kohli said. “I think if we as a team are willing to get out of our comfort zones a lot more, then we will be unfazed with what happens at the toss. That’s why we have people batting till nine. Unless you do that and start taking those risks, you are always going to be put under pressure somewhere or the other. We want to make sure we iron all of those things out before we head into the World Cup.”

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