It is IPL season and the fever is rising, even as the quality of cricket on show fluctuates like a see-saw. In my last article I made an effort to predict the “best four” of IPL 2016 and it seems the predictions are not just correct but quite accurate. It was a tough call for me but my intimation was strong, backed by some close study of the trends and performances of the game.
In the last few matches, or I would rather say in most of the matches, the bowlers made their presence felt mostly in the opening of the innings rather than closing. If we look at the stats of last week’s matches, most of the games were won due to the extra effort put in by the bowlers. The IPL, or the T20 format in general, has very little space for bowlers reducing them to the “defending position” rather than counting on them as the most dependable members of the team. I must also make a general observation on our senior bowlers, those who are almost out of top-level cricket but have proven to be assets to their respective teams — Ashish Nehra, Amit Misra, Praveen Kumar, R. P. Singh, Harbhajan Singh — all equivalent to “old wine in a new bottle”. These bowlers have given the IPL 2016 a new dimension, from taking wickets at crucial points to stopping runs in slog overs. Some of them even made a difference with the bat. To take my point further, I did make further study of the subject and I was surprised to find that at the IPL auction, some bowlers were also bought at a big price. To name of a few of those: Ishaan Sharma went for Rs 3.8 crore; Ashish Nehra for Rs 5.5 crore; Praveen Kumar for Rs 3.5 crore; Mohit Sharma for Rs 6.5 crore; Dhawan Kulkarni for Rs 2 crore; Barinder Sran for Rs 1.2 crore.
However, these prices, compared to what some of the top batsmen were paid, are still significantly low. In this edition of the IPL we are seeing a trend shift of sorts: in the T20 format, we got to see a 60-40 partnership between bowlers and batsmen in last week’s matches, in terms of who contributed how much towards winning a match. And this is an eye-opener for all experts and cricket lovers. The bench testing or rotation has been my slogan for the smaller format of the game and I am happy that some of the manager and coaches have heard my voice and have experimented with the idea, and some players have shown outstanding results: like Zampa 6/19, Stonis 4/15, Nathan Nile 2/25, Krunal Pandya 4/15, K.C. Cariappa 2/16. I see this trend going onwards in the rest of the matches of IPL 2016 and according to my calculation, bowlers will play a dominating role over batsmen during the rest of the season.
I predict that the team with more bowlers and all-rounders will have the strongest chance to reach the final stages of the tournament, rather than a team that has more batsmen. The combination of senior bowlers with new ones will really work for the teams and the results in the forthcoming matches will be impacted largely by these combinations.
To support my study and research I would like to mention the scores of last week’s matches:
Match 43: Mumbai Indians — 124/9 (Avg. 6.20)
Match 42: SRH —146/8 (Avg. 7.30)
Match 41: RCB — 151/4 (Avg. 7.55)
Match 40: SRH — 137/8 (Avg. 6.85) & RPS 133/8 (Avg. 6.65)
Match 38: KKR — 158/4 (Avg7.90)
Match 34: GL — 126/6 (avg. 6.30)
IPL 2016 has given us good cricket and the players, too, have behaved well. There have been third umpire calls, outstanding catches, as well as new venues and substitute teams. In all, cricket lovers of the country are having great fun watching this uncontroversial edition of the IPL. And since bowlers will win more man-of-the-match awards towards the final stages of the tournament, let’s cheer the bowlers.