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First Quarter Report of IPL-14

Friday, April 23, 2021 • Tamil Sport News Comments
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Round 1: RCB and CSK are marching ahead!

The first-round of the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL)-14 concluded on Thursday (22nd April), with all the 8 participating teams having played out 4 matches each. In what has stumped cricket-lovers as well as critics/observers of the game, the Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), the perennial underdogs, has topped the points tally in the 2-week old tournament, which is to go on till 30th May.

RCB has been continuing the momentum, generated by its surprise win over incumbent and 5-times champions Mumbai Indians (MI) on 09th April on the inaugural day of IPL-14.

CSK, which has won the title thrice and been runners-up on many occasion than any other team, is now placed second on the points tally (3 wins in 4 matches), albeit with a slightly better Nett Run Rate (NRR) than RCB.

Delhi Capitals (DC), led by Rishabh Pant for the first time, has won 3 out of its 4 matches (like CSK) but occupies the third slot on the points tally, thanks to its inferior NRR.

MI, which has won twice and lost twice, is in the 4th slot. Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), Punjab Kings (PBKS) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) occupy the spots from 5-8, respectively in that order, possessing negative NRRs.

What worked for RCB?

For RCB, which has long been pilloried by critics as well as Virat’s millions of fans for failing to lift the trophy for more than a decade now, leading the points tally at any point of time can be a genuine, never-before feeling. It never had a dearth of talent: the top three - Kohli, AB de Villiers and Devdutt Padikkal – has been firing regularly in almost all the matches. Glen Maxwell, Sundar and Kyle Jamison are the all-rounders who have been reasonably consistent thus far. Harshal Patel’s newly-discovered ‘form’ has added teeth to the bowling attack which has the vastly-improved Mohammed Siraj, Chahal and Kane Richardson.

The stars of CSK

CSK has this unique habit of winning the matches after taking them down to the wire; as RJ Balaji has gone on air many a time during his Tamil commentary, CSK seems to have made it a habit of winning its matches only in the 20th over and not before, thus keeping its fans eager and tense all the way; its bowling hasn’t settled down yet, though Chahar has found his form. Bravo, Shardul and others (even Jadeja) are leaking runs in the ‘death’ overs, which should be a huge concern for MSD. Thanks to Ruturaj, du Plessis, new-find Moeen Ali and Raina, its batting is delivering consistently.

DC's fire power

DC started off with a bang, trouncing CSK in a high-scoring match in its first encounter. A solid top-3 comprising Prithvi Shah, Dhawan and Pant besides a strong middle-order having Stoinis, Rahane, Hetmyer along with all-rounders Chris Woakes and R. Ashwin besides the ever-improving Avesh Khan and veteran Amit Mishra makes DC a strong team which can falter only if it doesn’t play to its strength and potential on any given day. Tom Curran’s bowling hasn’t been up to the mark so far and DC may look to replace him with Rabada or Nortje.

MI: The strong elephant

MI, the defending champions, started off with a customary loss in the opening match. It’s a team which is supremely strong in all departments: batting, bowling and fielding. Rohit, de Kock, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Hardik, Krunal and Pollard can be a handful for any bowling attack; seam-bowling combo of Bumrah and Boult have been more than consistent.

Third seamer and a good spinner are what MI is looking for from its reserve players such as Kulkarni, Neesham, Coulter-Nile and Piyush Chawla, not to exclude Arjun Tendulkar, son of ‘cricketing God’ Sachin Tendulkar.

The last four

SRH, KKR, PBKS and RR are all sailing in the same boat: all of them have registered one win and three losses in an identical manner. SRH, now devoid of the injured pacer T. Natarajan’s services, has to deliver more consistently in the remaining matches to leave its mark and go up on the points tally. It’s top order is very good but has to be complemented by its middle and lower order. Its bowling has always been its major force with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Rashid Khan delivering regularly.

KKR, which has lost a couple of close matches, languishes at No.6 on the tally, which is not compatible with what it has to offer with batting power-houses such as Gill, Rana, Tripathi, Morgan, Russel, Karthik and Cummins. Like CSK, KKR has the habit of leaking runs aplenty in final overs and this needs to be addressed at once.

PBKS boats a very good batting line-up in Rahul, Mayank, Hooda, Gayle, Pooran and newbie Shahrukh Khan; its bowling has been a concern. Indian pacer Shami appears out of form but young Arshdeep Singh is showing a lot of promise. Aussies Meredith and Richardson haven’t been at their best, which has added to PBKS’ problems.

RR, the perennial under-dogs, haven’t been showing the ‘intent’ to do well and win matches. Captained by Samju Samson, RR relies mostly on Butler, Vohra and Samson for runs; Dube and Miller haven’t been in form and Parag hasn’t been doing justice to his talent. All-rounders Morris and Unadkat won a match for it (with the bat) but haven’t been delivering with the ball. Newbie Sakariya is promising while Bangladeshi Mustafizur Rahman hasn’t yet found his rhythm.

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