IPL 2014 Preview - The Statistical Lowdown
Matt Carter gives his view on each of the eight franchises battling for glory at the Indian Premier League 2014, assessing their strengths and weaknesses and the key statistics.
CHENNAI SUPER KINGS
Both Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni were ranked in the leading 10 run scorers of the 2013 edition, these two, together with Ravindra Jadeja were also amongst the leading 10 in terms of strike rate.
Dwayne Smith, off the back of an impressive campaign with Mumbai brings further firepower, whilst seasoned Twenty20 campaigners Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Bravo complete a formidable top order.
Ravichandran Ashwin and Samuel Badree who were both among the star bowlers at the recent ICC World Twenty20 coupled with Ravindra Jadeja mean Chennai possess a spin trio ranked alongside the best.
The seam bowling base looks reliable with Dwayne Bravo and Mohit Sharma both ranked in the leading 10 wicket-takers of 2013 – Bravo incidently claiming more victims than any other bowler. Being overly harsh it could be suggested they lack a seamer of the highest quality.
It’s hard to find fault with a Super Kings side who will once again be led by the inspirational Dhoni, importantly whichever XI they choose to select will offer plenty of quality options with both bat and ball, and it would therefore be a surprise for them not to be present at the tournament’s business end.
KINGS XI PUNJAB
With the likes of Glenn Maxwell, David Miller, George Bailey and Virender Sehwag at their disposal Kings XI can call on a fearsome quartet of top order hitters – with Miller boasting the highest strike rate of anyone in the 2013 edition.
Mitchell Johnson, the world’s leading fast bowler will spearhead their attack and even on pitches not offering the assistance he has been afforded over the last six months should still cause havoc.
Beuran Hendricks was the leading bowler in South Africa’s domestic Twenty20 campaign, yet for him to play one of the mentioned gun batsman will need to be left out. Murali Karthik brings reliable spin but is lacking in support and as a whole it is hard not argue that their bowling is lacking in depth.
Punjab can call on a plethora of top quality players however there are concerns regarding their supporting cast, while there are issues in relation to which overseas players will be selected and further to that a lack of all-rounders brings more selection headaches.
For instance, to select Thisara Perera a standout all-round option in 2013, a big name batsman will need to be left out.
KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS
Although full of experience Kolkata can’t match the power of several other franchises, with only Yusuf Pathan ranked in the top 20 batsmen of 2013 in terms of strike rate – at the same time they are one of only two sides without a batsman in last season’s top ten leading run scorers.
Robin Uthappa, Jacques Kallis and Gautam Gambhir should ensure solid totals but don’t possess nearly the same hitting power of other top orders in the competition.
In contrast Kolkata’s attack stacks up well when analysing the 2013 stats, given they can call on four of the top 20 leading wicket-takers, most notably Sunil Narine and Vinay Kumar who were both ranked in the top 10.
Their spinners in particular look imposing with Narine being joined by Piyush Chawla and Shakib Al Hasan, whilst Morne Morkel adds express pace.
The Knight Riders can call on the most experienced squad in the tournament and a bowling attack that should prove amongst the most clinical, at the same time an abundance of strong all-rounders means they will not be short of options. Whether all that can balance the clearly lacking batting though looks in serious doubt.
ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE
If both Chris Gayle and Yuvraj can regain their mojo’s then it is difficult to see anyone matching a batting order that also includes arguably the world’s two best all-round batsmen in Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers – with those two and Gayle all ranked in the leading 11 in regards to 2013 strike rates. Add in the hitting of Albie Morkel and Royal Challengers looks a frightening proposition.
Building such a powerful batting unit has however clearly hampered the bowling – nobody in their squad was placed in either the top 10 wicket-takers or lowest economy rates for the 2013 campaign.
Ravi Rampaul and Mitchell Starc should offer reliable but unspectacular seam options if selected, although there will be concerns regarding the latter’s World Twenty20 form. It is in the spin department however where Royal Challengers look significantly short.
Bangalore look top heavy in regards to batting talent and there are form concerns over several of those much vaunted batsmen. It is difficult to see the batsmen consistently bailing out a bowling unit that is somewhat short of x-factor, whilst possessing just two genuine all-rounders further adds to the balance issues.
Skipper Kevin Pietersen needs no introduction and is joined by Murali Vijay and Dinesh Karthik, both of whom were among the leading 20 run-scorers in 2013 – with Karthik ranked at seven.
They are also joined by JP Duminy off the back of an impressive World T20 and if selected Quinton de Kock will bring early over momentum. Despite the clear strengths, Delhi do perhaps look short in terms of lower order hitting.
Similar to Bangalore, Delhi appear top heavy in regards to batting, although not on such a dramatic scale. Despite their attack being on the youthful side it does possess potential, Rahul Sharma is an astute spin-bowling capture and Mohammed Shami, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Wayne Parnell are solid seam options – although for all to be selected an overseas batsman will need sacrificing.
It however can’t be ignored that no bowler in the current Delhi squad was ranked in the 20 leading wicket-takers last term, at the same time a lack of all-rounders leaves little room for manoeuvre.
The much sought-after leadership of Gary Kirsten could unite the youngest group in the tournament, yet while scoring runs won’t be an issue, conceding them looks likely to be a significant one.
Shane Watson and Ajinkya Rahane who were both listed amongst the top run-scorers of 2013 and together with Brad Hodge, the leading all-time Twenty20 run-scorer, provide a strong core to Rajasthan’s batting.
Steve Smith looks an astute capture, whilst another Australian James Faulkner along with Stuart Binny bring lower-order hitting. Despite the competent look to Rajasthan’s batting, they are arguably lacking in a top-drawer game-changing player when compared against the rest.
An array of all-round talent means Rajasthan are not short of versatility with their favoured XI likely to feature up to eight bowling options, further to that the seam trio of Faulkner, Binny and Watson were all listed amongst the 15 best economy rates of the 2013 season. The spin department although unspectacular also looks relatively dependable.
Rajasthan’s strength is clearly in their all-round ability with seven of their most expensive 15 players classed in this category, which allows them the most versatile squad in the competition.
On paper at least they look shy of the match winners with bat and ball to seriously challenge, that said they have stuck with the same method that brought success in 2013 and again will look to form a unit greater than the sum of its parts.
Mumbai will be banking on Michael Hussey and Rohit Sharma, who finished first and sixth respectively on the 2013 runs list to get the bulk of their runs. Ambati Rayudu will offer regular support, however they do still look a batsman light. If those three do however fire and provide consistent platforms, in Kieron Pollard and Corey Anderson Mumbai possess a duo with unmatchable finishing power.
Holes can be picked with the batting but finding fault in Mumbai’s bowlers is not so straightforward. Pragyan Ojha and Harbhajan are highly dependable spinners, Lasith Malinga is the death bowler that so many sides lack and with Krishmar Santokie, should they find a way to squeeze him in to the side Mumbai have a new ball bowler who will give next to nothing away. Unfortunatly selecting Santokie would hinder the batting, a compromise they look unable to afford.
The batting line-up despite several match winners undeniably contains cracks and it is difficult to see the bowling papering over these sufficiently enough for Mumbai to defend the title, that said if they can make it to the final stages they have enough game changing players to still be a real danger.
A top three of Shikhar Dhawan, Aaron Finch and David Warner should bring Sunrisers consistent early momentum, at the same time in Darren Sammy they are able to call on the most lethal finisher world cricket.
Question marks do however lie regarding what comes between the top order and Sammy with the middle order appearing somewhat lacking, whilst being hyper critical pressure on Finch and Warner is likely to heighten should Dhawan’s poor form persist.
Remarkably Hyderabad can proclaim four bowlers in 2013’s best 10 economy rates, with Dale Steyn, Amit Mishra, Karn Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar all making this list –these four each boasting career economy rates of less than seven.
If you were to go searching for holes, perhaps the one minuscule area of concern is the absence of an off-spinner with both Mishra and Sharma being leg spinners.
With an attack that will be amongst the most miserly in the tournament, an unmatchable top three and the Darren Sammy factor, it would take a significant shock for Sunrisers not to make the final four.
The only serious points of contention are that Dhawan is lacking in experience compared to certain other captains and a vulnerable middle order.
© Cricket World 2014