IPL 2018: Kolkata Knight Riders look the only team that may struggle to field a solid XI | cricket | Hindustan Times
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IPL 2018: Kolkata Knight Riders look the only team that may struggle to field a solid XI

Most Indian Premier League (IPL) teams are relying on their key players for not just finding form but also, remaining fit throughout the tournament. Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) happens to be the only team that might struggle to put out even a formidable first XI.

cricket Updated: Apr 06, 2018 09:22 IST
According to former Indian cricket team opener Aakash Chopra, all Indian Premier League (IPL) teams with an exception of the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) are looking equally strong.
According to former Indian cricket team opener Aakash Chopra, all Indian Premier League (IPL) teams with an exception of the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) are looking equally strong. (PTI)

Indian Premier League (IPL) has entered its 11th year and it’s started showing signs of maturity. This year’s mega-auction proved that there’s no room for vanity, reputations and emotions anymore.

The snub to Lasith Malinga and to some degree, Chris Gayle, showed the cruel side of franchise cricket that’s ruled by cold numbers.

And it’s for this reason that all teams, with an exception of the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) are looking equally strong. Unlike the past few seasons, it’s almost impossible to call the final four at the outset.

Tighter Squads

It seems that the focus of this season’s auction was to put together an enviable first XI—a team that was capable of winning the trophy, and to be fair, most teams have succeeded too.

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Cost per player for the key players went up manifold, which in turn led to less money available for buying their replacements, if need be.

Only Delhi Daredevils and SunRisers Hyderabad were smart enough to acquire reasonably strong bench strength and that’s why even after losing David Warner, SRH aren’t too poorly placed.

Most other teams are relying on their key players for not just finding form but also, remaining fit throughout the tournament. KKR happens to be the only team that might struggle to put out even a formidable first XI in all conditions.

Finally, bowlers getting their due

Since the inception of the shortest format, it was widely believed to be the format for the batsmen. After all, you had the luxury of losing ten wickets in just 20 overs. Batsmen had never enjoyed this kind of luxury and that allowed them to play fearless brand of cricket.

READ | Mumbai Indians not favourites for Indian Premier League title, says coach Mahela Jayawardene

Bowlers, on the other hand, were seen hiding for cover. That’s where you realize that perceptions can be stronger than the truth, for the ten seasons of the IPL has established the fact that, just like the other two formats, it might be the batsmen who win you matches, it’s the bowlers who win you tournaments.

All 10 IPL champions boast of a top-quality bowling unit. The fact that on a good day, you need only a couple of in-form batsmen to last 20 overs but irrespective of how the day’s gone for you, you can’t do without 5 proper bowlers.

Every bowler is 20% of your innings’ quota and that’s why it’s prudent to invest in a good bowling unit. The chain is as strong as its weakest link—a couple of overs from a weak bowler can cost you the match.

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That’s been the story of RCB over the last decade. This season, the monies for quality bowlers have gone up radically. That’s why the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Sunil Narine, Chris Morris, Axar Patel were retained and Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav and Dwayne Bravo were acquired using the Right To Match card.

Looking forward to the DRS

Umpiring standards in the IPL have always been a point of debate. There’s no hiding from the fact that umpiring in general, and not restricted to just the Indian umpires, hasn’t met the desired standards year after year.

Since there’s hardly any time to comeback in T20 cricket, one poor umpiring decision could seal the fate of a match. It’s good to see that DRS will be used for the first time in the IPL and it’ll be even more interesting to see how the captains use it.

READ | Mahela Jayawardene, Rohit Sharma back introduction of DRS in Indian Premier League

From a broadcaster’s perspective, the presence of DRS adds another important layer to the narrative and for a viewer it enhances the viewing experience.

Let the games begin.

(The author is a former India opener. The views expressed here are personal)