Mumbai Indians – Report Card

Mumbai Indians lost 8 matches in all. 6 of them in the last over! One of them in the 2nd last and one in the 3rd last over. To say the least, all the matches were close. But Mumbai lost the plot in most of them. If they had won just one more match, they would’ve qualified. 2 more matches, and they would have come 3rd on the points table. 3 more matches, and they would’ve topped the points table! 7 of those lost matches could have gone either way but luck seemed to be against Mumbai on all occasions.

Jasprit Bumrah – 8.0

17 wickets in 14 matches with an economy around 7 is not bad. But he hasn’t led the Mumbai attack like he should’ve. He has been hit around the park by some of the most inexperienced batsmen and for the first time, Bumrah is not the first bowler I add to my Fantasy XI.

Rohit Sharma – 5.0

Yes, I’ve given Rohit ‘Hitman’ Sharma 5/10 marks. This has been his worst season in terms of runs and average. One reason could be that he kept demoting himself down the order. That was very wrong. He also couldn’t hold his nerves under pressure and it showed in his decisions as a captain.

Hardik Pandya – 9.0

I would give 10 out of 10 for the bowling, but the batting has just been disappointing. 3 runs off 17 balls when the team needed him to anchor the innings. But he has delivered the goods each time he has bowled and taken the most wickets for MI this year.

Evin Lewis – 7.5

Everyone was calling him ‘Junior Gayle’ and building up the hype around him but he hasn’t lived up to all that hype. An average under 30 really isn’t what a team expects from it’s star overseas batsman. Inconsistency has been an issue. He needs to work on that and come back strong next year.

Mayank Markhande – 9.5

The find of the season for MI has been Mayank Markhande. Taking the wicket of greats like Dhoni and Raina is something most youngsters can only dream about. Nobody has read his googly nicely. He is a great investment for the future and MI would hope that he isn’t just a one-season wonder.

Suryakumar Yadav – 10.0

What is it with IPL 2018 and finding new openers? First Rahul, then Rayudu, then Buttler and for MI, Suryakumar Yadav. When he was sent in to open, people were really criticising MI for that but he performed excellently against the odds. MI has found an experienced stalwart who they can rely on if others don’t fire.

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We Have Our Finalists!

Did anyone really expect a top class team like Sunrisers Hyderabad to lose 5 matches in a row and crash out of the tournament? I for one, did not. KKR was never going to reach the finals, with all the injuries and slumps in form. But for now, all eyes are on SRH and CSK to play the World’s Toughest Final.

King Khan.

SRH are struggling at 134/6 and there are bowlers on either either end of the pitch. Guess what? Rashid Khan isn’t just a bowler. He is whatever you need him to be. He smashes 34 runs off only 10 balls and allows the Sunrisers to reach 174. But wait, there’s more! He comes on to bowl and guess what? He isn’t just a pinch hitter, he’s also the best bowler in the world! He takes the 3 most important wickets of KKR and gives only 19 runs in return. Not done yet! He also effected an excellent runout which turned the flow of the game and took two catches off consecutive deliveries to ensure that his team won and reached the finals.

IPL 2018 Playoffs – Coincidences

In the first match, CSK and SRH faced off. CSK had beaten SRH in both their previous encounters. In the second match, RR and KKR faced off. KKR had beaten RR in both their previous encounters. In this match, KKR and SRH faced off. KKR had beaten SRH in both their previous encounters! One more thing is the sameness of this years final and the previous year’s final. RPS had beaten MI all 3 times before the final. This year CSK has beaten SRH all 3 times before the final. MI broke the streak. Can SRH do the same?

SRH’s Mistakes

Even though SRH won the match, they still committed some mistakes which they shouldn’t have. Playing a new kid like Khaleel Ahmed in such an important match like this. Sandeep Sharma was doing better than most of the bowlers. There was no need to change that. Then, there was no need to play Wriddhiman Saha instead of Goswami. He had been performing well and had a flow going on. This was Saha’s first match after the injury and he dropped two catches. These things must be corrected before the final.

Kings XI Punjab – Report Card

2018 for Kings XI Punjab has been the definition of a rollercoaster season. 5 wins in the first six matches, and then only 1 win in the next 8 matches! They seemed favourites for the No.1 spot mid-tournament and it seemed like the Kings had finally found their reliable captain and consistent bunch of players. No one would have predicted that they would end up 7th on the points table. But they did.

Chris Gayle – 7.5/10

Why not start with the World Boss, Chris Gayle? I know 7.5 is little harsh for someone who scored a 100 and 3 fifties, but it’s more about the consistency and impact that a player has. All four 50+ scores came in successive innings and nothing came after that. Plus the fielding. I know it is hard for a 38 year old to give his all in this aspect of the game but he could have done better. Catches were dropped. Balls were not chased. One question, If you know why he kept doing the cradle celebration, tell me the reason in the comments section below.

Ravichandran Ashwin – 8.0/10

Full marks for captaincy. Specially the way he used Mujeeb was questionable but effective. Bowlers were rotated well too. His own bowling hasn’t shown a lot of improvement. In the first few matches, he was quite effective and hunted in a pair with Mujeeb, but after that, he began bowling the easier overs himself and getting hit. The batting order was also rotated quite a lot and he didn’t let any batsmen settle at one position.

Yuvraj Singh – 4.5/10

2018 was the worst season for Yuvraj Singh in the IPL. Let’s face it – 65 runs with a high score of 20 and an average of 10.63 is not what you expect from your star player. I won’t be surprised if Yuvraj Singh isn’t bought by any franchise or bought at a low price in the next year’s auction.

Mujeeb Zadran – 8.5/10

He broke records when he became the youngest player ever to play in the IPL. People were thinking if he was the next Rashid Khan. He proved that he was almost as good as his fellow countryman. One more thing – Mujeeb learnt the carrom ball by watching YouTube videos of Ravichandran Ashwin. Now he is playing under him! This is the magic of IPL! Mujeeb will be seen in the Punjab jersey for years to come and I’m sure he will do well.

Mayank Agarwal – 5.0/10

He wanted to prove to everyone that he was not just a one-season wonder. But he failed at that task. An average of 12 really isn’t acceptable from your main Indian youth investment. It’s not like he didn’t get enough chances. He just didn’t make the most of them. He should pin all his hopes on the next year’s IPL now.

KL Rahul – 9.5/10

One Man Army. The whole of Kings XI’s batting was relying on this man’s shoulders. More often than not, he managed to withstand it, but the whole side would just crumble when he didn’t. People were thinking he was the worst keeper in all 8 sides. But his keeping was as good as anyone else’s. You can’t complain about an average of 54.91! But he should have had more of an impact. Individual performances don’t matter if the team loses.

Andrew Tye – 10.0/10

He is the current leading wicket taker and it is likely to remain that way till the end of the tournament. He has performed in almost each match and hasn’t let the opponent accelerate in the death overs. He has certainly lived up to his price tag of 11 Crores and is sure to be retained by Kings XI Punjab next year.

ABD – A Cricketer To Remember

What is happening? Morne Morkel retires, Virat Kohli gets injured and now ABD announces his retirement from international cricket! Very few cricketers have made such an impact not only on people of their own country, but the whole world. Not only through their sporting ability, but also through their acts as human beings. I personally started thinking of AB as my joint favourite cricketer after I read his autobiography(which I regard as one of the best books ever written).

One question that is on everyone’s minds – Should AB have waited until after the 2019 World Cup? The retirement was long overdue but should it have come after he had one possible World Cup victory under his belt? Depends on whether he thought South Africa could win the World Cup next year. But then again, he was the one who others looked upto and he was the one who brought hope into the South African setup.

Cricket is a really unfair game. ABD should have gotten the World Cup victory that the game owes him. Same with Jacques Kallis. Think of it this way – Lionel Messi never winning a World Cup. AB has brought as much to the table as Messi has, and both of them deserved to win the major tournament for their country. While the latter still has a chance, the former won’t get the chance now.

Let’s think about the South African setup now. Without Morne Morkel, without ABD, do they have a realistic chance? Soon, JP Duminy, Faf Du Plessis and Hashim Amla will also be gone. Who would lead the team through that transition period? I won’t be surprised if 2020 South Africa is not a very strong team.

Just to make it clear, ABD will still be playing T20 Leagues around the world. So for all you RCB fans, you can take a sigh of relief. We all wanted ABD to stick around for some more time, but for now, let’s celebrate other players because we will miss them when they’re gone.

He Came, He Saw, He Conquered, And Then Left Silently.

Thank You AB De Villiers.

Jinks Can’t Break RR’s Jinx

One team had to go out. They all thought it would be RR. And it was. If you ever want to give an example of a team losing from a place where losing is not even an option, RR is the team for the job. At 109/1 and needing only 61 runs in 36 balls while having 9 wickets in hand, RR were favourites to win, but Rahane and Samson had other plans.

What Goes Wrong?

RR always do such mistakes. Whenever they have a strong hold on the match, they let all the pressure slip away, and the next thing you know, they’re under pressure. Exactly what happened in both the innings. Bowling first and choking the Knights at 51/4, RR should have been looking to get them all out, but instead they were letting the pressure ease off, and letting them build partnerships. The next thing you know, Dre Russ and DK are smashing it all over the park and what should have been less than 140 turns into something a 30 runs more than that. Same thing happened with batting. Rahane and Samson were dealing in singles. I understood their philosophy. They wanted to stay till the end and finish the game off then. But they couldn’t. They couldn’t stay till the end. Then what was the point of playing carefully earlier if you had to throw your wicket away later.

RR’s Mistake With Krishnappa Gowtham

As I have been writing in many of my previous blogs, Krishnappa Gowtham is a natural hitter of the ball. He can open the innings and become a pinch hitter. I think he replicates Sunil Narine except he is a better batsman with more cricketing shots. He was RR’s best spinner and had take the most wickets in the powerplay. But RR could have used him in the middle overs to put pressure on the batsmen at that time.

RR – A Team Of One – Season Wonders

The RR side had a lot of people from the Rising Pune Supergiant setup last year. And that setup contained lot of players who were playing and doing well in the IPL for the first time. Now RR took many of them. Jaydev Unadkat, Ben Stokes, Ajinkya Rahane and Rahul Tripathi to some extent are all people who performed well last year but failed to make much of an impact this year. I’ll leave you with a thought – How different would RR’s season have been if Steve Smith had not been banned?

IPL Trailblazers Vs. IPL Supernovas

This exhibition match was organised by BCCI on Tuesday. The match was contested between world’s best women cricketers divided into teams. All 26 women got a chance to play. Supernovas we’re looking like the stronger team since the beginning and they were the ones who won.

0 sixes, 120 balls. 3 sixes, 120 balls

Yes, only 3 sixes were hit in the whole match. All 3 by the Supernovas. Those 3 sixes also landed in the playing ground only. The boundary was shifted a little inwards so it would be easier to reach the boundary but it seemed quite hard. In the Trailblazers innings, they seemed to only be dealing in 4s while the Supernovas tried to run for 1s and 2s.

Poonam Yadav – How Slow Can A Bowl Be?

Poonam Yadav was a spinner in the Trailblazers setup. She gave flight in every bowl she bowled and each bowl was slower than 60kmph. But she did manage to fox the batters as they handed her two wickets while not managing to score many runs.

Fielding – Hot And Cold

Some catches which were held onto were just amazing. But there were also some very disappointing catch drops. In fact, the match would have gone into the Super Over if a catch hadn’t been dropped off the very last ball. There were also some excellent runouts but some of them were the batter’s fault as they didn’t drag the bat while attempting to reach the crease.

The All Important Qualifier

The winner of this match will play in the finals of the IPL. The loser will get another chance in the 2nd Qualifier to qualify to play in the finals. This picture explains things better. This is for the year 2017. This year the first match is between CSK and SRH.

Chennai Super Kings

They have just brought out their best game under Captain Cool MS. Dhoni. CSK is the only team who has qualified for the playoffs every time they have played. This makes them the most experienced side in the IPL. This year Ambati Rayudu has been exceptional. He has scored extra well against the Sunrisers Hyderabad. A 79 and a 100. Deepak Chahar and Lungi Ngidi are new finds. CSK are probably the only team who open the bowling with legitimate pacers and do not bring on spinners till around the 8th or 9th over. Chahar also impressed with his batting in the previous match. Suresh Raina has found form again and Shane Watson looks like he can do no wrong. The No.4 spot is of concern to them if Dhoni does not bat there. Billings has only performed in 1 match, Bravo has the same story while Jadeja has failed consistently. The CSK spinners have also been least impressive considering their reputation. They have to address these concerns and they are ready to go.

Sunrisers Hyderabad

The table-toppers have run out of steam in the latter end of the tournament. They have lost all 3 of their last matches. Before they had qualified, their bowling was their main weapon, but after that, SRH hasn’t really struck with the ball. They have leaked runs and have been unable to defend large totals. One big positive which SRH will take away would be Shikhar and Sugar-Kane Williamson’s partnerships. Even though Shikhar has blown a little hot and cold, but Williamson has made his middle name ‘consistent’. He has scored 8 half centuries in 14 matches! Rashid and Bhuvneshwar have a reputation for striking in pressure moments. SRH will hope they live up to their reputation and win the game for SRH.

What I Expect

I know I talk a lot about law of averages, but that’s just because it makes sense! And the law of averages supports SRH in this match. I’m behind SRH for this match. Although I have to admit that CSK looks the stronger team in this contest.