The schedule for the 14th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has been released and it is all set to begin on the 9th of April when Mumbai Indians will play against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Chennai. The tournament will be held in six different venues and with just less than a month left, fans naturally can’t contain their excitement.
Coming to the article, bowlers have always played a key role for franchises, and their performances define how the team plays. We have seen several teams with good batting lineups struggle to mount a challenge for a playoffs spot due to the absence of a solid bowling attack.
Last season’s finalists, Delhi and Mumbai, depended on their bowlers to deliver the goods and this was evidenced by the fact that they were also the teams that picked up the most wickets. Even SRH and RCB were third and fourth respectively, and well guess what their positions on the league table were!!
On that note, here’s a rating of all the bowling attacks in the IPL:
8. Chennai Super Kings – 6.5
CSK had a rather dismal campaign last season as they finished outside the top four for the first time in their history and this was due to the collective failure of all three departments. Since they have retained the majority of that squad, even their bowling attack is largely similar apart from the inclusion of Moeen Ali and Krishnappa Gowtham. With all due respect to them, they aren’t the kind of bowlers who are going to lift a bowling attack that was as poor as CSK.
Most of their spinners are suited to a containing type of role, and Imran Tahir, who is actually a wicket-taking spinner, may or may not start for them initially. The likes of Ravindra Jadeja, Ali, Gowtham, and Mitchell Santner aren’t out-and-out wicket-takers.
Coming to the pace department, they do have bowlers like Deepak Chahar, Josh Hazlewood, Shardul Thakur, and Sam Curran, who all are good with the new ball, but they aren’t at their best during the death overs. Dwayne Bravo was often MSD’s go-to man during the death, but his form in recent years has dipped and he is no longer the same bowler he used to be.
7. Royal Challengers Bangalore – 7
RCB’s bowling has always been their Achilles Heel and it has been a major reason behind their failures over the years. They have often leaked several runs and made it quite difficult for the likes of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. Yuzvendra Chahal hasn’t received much support over the years and whether that change is something we will have to look forward to.
Their powerplay bowling is decent with the likes of Mohammed Siraj and Kyle Jamieson in their squad, while even Washington Sundar is excellent during those overs and chokes the flow of runs. Yuzvendra Chahal is a key bowler for the team during the middle overs and Kohli often depends upon him for wickets. He will mostly have the likes of Sundar, Saini, and Christian for a company during that period.
The death overs are where their issues lie and it is the reason for their rather poor rating here. Navdeep Saini is their best death bowler, but his poor form in recent times is a massive concern for RCB. Siraj isn’t great at the death while Sams and Richardson could struggle in the Indian grounds. Their big-money signing, kYLE Jamieson is also not a proven death bowler and even his performances against Australia have been quite poor. All in all, their bowling attack doesn’t have a lot of venom and a lot will depend on Chahal.
6. Kolkata Knight Riders – 7.5
KKR’s bowling was good in patches last season and their inconsistency was a major reason behind their fifth-place finish. Their main bowlers like Kuldeep Yadav, Pat Cummins, and Sunil Narine weren’t able to pick up the desired number of wickets, and thus their inexperienced bowlers were put under even more pressure to deliver.
Varun Chakravarthy was the only bowler who managed to pick up 17 wickets. The other spinners failed to support him and thus, his work was being nullified in a way. This season he might find better support in the form of Shakib Al Hasan and if things go their way, it could turn out to be an excellent combination.
Their pace attack is once again highly inexperienced, and Pat Cummins will have to do much better in order to hide a few of their weaknesses. Last season, he predominantly bowled during the powerplay, which meant that Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti were burdened with the task of bowling at the death. KKR will have to change those tactics as it isn’t very smart to solely bowl youngsters during those overs. Andre Russell might not bowl much in order to manage his workload, while Lockie Ferguson is an excellent backup for Cummins.
5. Punjab Kings – 8
The Kings XI Punjab have undergone a mini revamp over the last couple of seasons as they have changed their captain, coach and now their team name and logo as well. They finished sixth on the points table, but the fact that their best run of form came during the latter half of the season is a positive sign as they will have a clearer picture of what they need to do to have a better start to this campaign.
Their bowling attack will most likely consist of Jhye Richardson, Mohammed Shami, Riley Meredith, Ravi Bishnoi, and Murugan Ashwin. The likes of Shahrukh Khan and Deepak Hooda might also chip in with a couple of overs here and there. Their pace bowling looks very strong on paper as all three of them are good during the death and even with the new ball. Chris Jordan is a decent overseas backup, and they also have talented youngsters in the form of Ishan Porel, Arshdeep Singh, and Darshan Nalkande.
The leg-spin duo of Bishnoi and Ravi Ashwin was very impressive last season and under the guidance of Anil Kumble, their performances are only going to improve. Their bowling attack looks quite balanced on paper and may even out-perform some of the teams higher than them, but the fact that the Australian duo of Richardson and Meredith are yet to play and prove themselves in the IPL means that they will take up the fifth spot for now.
4. Sunrisers Hyderabad – 8.5
SRH just edges PBKS on the list as all their bowlers have IPL experience and have proven themselves at some stage of the tournament. Their bowling has always been their strength and it was no different last year as they conceded at just 7.7 throughout the season and picked up 91 wickets. Their bowling attack will be similar to last season and the only additions they have made to their squad are Jagadeesha Suchith and Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
They will mostly play just one specialist spinner in their XI in the form of Rashid Khan and might end up including Nadeem or Mujeeb in case the pitch favours spin. One of Abdul Samad and Abhishek Sharma will have to contribute with the ball as the second spinner and sixth bowler as well.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar has regained full fitness and will lead their pace attack comprising of T Natarajan, Sandeep Sharma, and Jason Holder. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Sandeep Sharma are excellent with the new ball and have the ability to move it both ways, while Jason Holder and T Natarajan will complement Rashid Khan during the middle overs. Bhuvneshwar and Natarajan are two of India’s finest death bowlers, on paper, their bowling attack looks really good. Khaleel Ahmed and Siddarth Kaul are good backups to have in the squad.
3. Mumbai Indians – 9
After having won back-to-back titles, the Mumbai Indians will be on the hunt to complete an unprecedented hat-trick of IPL titles. Their bowling attack was simply excellent last season and when a team has two of its bowlers amongst the top three wicket-takers, there is little chance of them failing. A pace bowling trio of Jasprit Bumrah, Trent Boult, and Nathan Coulter-Nile has everything a team would want from their pacers. In the form of Boult, they have one of the best exponents of the new ball and if he plays the way he did last season, they will have an excellent chance of retaining the title.
Jasprit Bumrah and Coulter-Nile are excellent in this format and have proven themselves on several occasions. Adam Milne might turn out to be an excellent squad option for the Mumbai Indians as his numbers in this format, especially during the death are outstanding over the last few years. With four world-class fast bowlers in their squad, MI won’t have much to worry about. Kieron Pollard will be the 4th pacer in the XI and might have to bowl the odd over here and there if Hardik isn’t fit enough.
Krunal Pandya and Rahul Chahar will be their spin bowling options in the starting XI. Chahar’s performances last season tailed off during the second half of the tournament and he was even dropped for the final. Krunal had a mediocre season as he picked up just six wickets and even their backup option, Piyush Chawla, hasn’t been in great form. MI will hope that their spinners regain form ahead of the opening fixture against RCB.
2. Delhi Capitals – 9
DC made it to their first-ever final last season on the back of some impressive performances from their bowlers and this was evidenced by the fact that four of their bowlers picked up 13 or more wickets. Even Axar Patel, who ended the tournament with nine wickets, was great as he conceded at just 6.41 per over. And thus, they obviously had little reason to tinker with their bowling lineup and only bought backups like Tom Curran and Umesh Yadav.
They are likely to start Ishant Sharma, Kagiso Rabada, and Anrich Nortje as their three seamers while Marcus Stoinis will have to perform the role of the fourth pacer. Ishant will bowl three overs with the new ball on most days while the South African duo are capable of bowling at any time. Marcus Stoinis is a quality sixth bowler and even he can deliver three to four overs on most days.
Their spinners will be Ravi Ashwin and Axar Patel, who were pretty good last season. They picked up 22 wickets and conceded at just seven runs per over, and often restricted the flow of runs. Amit Mishra will provide cover for them and he might even come into the XI for Ishant Sharma depending on the pitch and opposition.
1.Rajasthan Royals – 9.5
RR were probably the team that came out of the auction most satisfied as they have managed to put together a well-balanced squad. Their strongest possible playing XI could potentially have eight to nine bowling options, which gives Sanju Samson a lot of freedom. A bowling duo of Jofra Archer and Chris Morris is arguably the best in the league on paper, and they will receive good support from the likes of Kartik Tyagi, Akash Singh, and Chetan Sakariya.
Their pace attack is well-rounded as they will have a minimum of three bowlers who can bowl at any stage of the game. Mustafizur Rahman is a really good backup to have in case one of their overseas quicks suffers from an injury. Their leg-spinners, Shreyas Gopal and Rahul Tewatia weren’t quite at their best with the ball, but given that the league will once again be held in India, their returns might improve.
One of the reasons behind RR being first is the fact that they have several bowling options, which is always good for the team. In case their first choice bowlers fail to turn up on any given day, they can call upon the likes of Ben Stokes, Riyan Parag, and Shivam Dube to bowl a few overs. All in all, they look well balanced and if they play to their full potential, they have a great chance of winning their first title since 2008.
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
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