My Thoughts

Archive for the ‘Twenty20’ Category

We are in the final week of the round robin stage of IPL2020 and the playoff spots are still up for grabs. Mumbai Indians with 16 points are almost in but again they would feel safe with another win under their belt. The fantastic thing about this season is that all the teams except for Chennai Super Kings have an outside chance of making the playoffs. Kings XI Punjab who looked like being down and out after first 7 games have made an incredible comeback winning 5 games on the bounce to become one of the top contenders for the playoff spot. Kolkata Knight Riders have had a mixed tournament. They surely haven’t been consistent but again they have done enough to keep themselves in the race.

Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rajasthan Royals though have been hanging by a thread and possibly have an outside chance of making it if they win both their games and other results go their way. The two top teams of this years IPL Royal Challenges Bangalore and Delhi Capitals though have seen their season take turn for the worse in the latter part of the tournament. DC who have been brilliant in this years tournament have had very poor last few games. They have not only been losing but the losses have been heavy as well. Their 88 run loss to SRH has given the latter a lot of hope but has dented DC’s NRR pretty badly. RCB who have been very consistent in this years IPL have now lost two games in a row making their qualification path slightly more complicated.

This season has been extremely competitive and the most dangerous team in the coming days is going to be CSK. The men in yellow have nothing to lose and they would want to end the season on a high. The next few days is going to be crucial for all the sides in the competition. While the top 3 sides want to finally confirm their playoff spots, the rest of the 4 are battling to topple one of them into the playoffs as well.

DC and RCB have been brilliant this season but their recent reversal in results would have surely caused some jitters in their camp. Both these teams have been in these situations in the past an they surely would want to avoid that from happening again this season. RR and SRH who at max can reach 14 points would not only want to win their remaining games but would also want to improve their NRR as there is bound to be tie at number 4 in the table.

This years IPL in the UAE has been exciting and close and the final week is no different. With as many as 7 teams in the running for 4 spots, the tournament has been one of the best in history of IPL. All the teams would want to make one last push towards the playoff spots and it will be interesting to see who gets there.

Every time an Indian national squad is announced there is always controversy. Fans and experts alike question selections, express disappointment over someone missing out and there is conspiracy theories always floating around. The three squads announced for the Australian tour wasn’t immune to that either. But again the T20I squad garnered the most criticism. Lets look at the T20 squad and analyse the “Controversial”
picks in more detail.

Team India T20I squad: Virat Kohli (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul (vice-captain and wicket-keeper), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Sanju Samson (wicket-keeper), Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohd. Shami, Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar, Varun Chakravarthy

The T20I squad garnered the most criticism and critique from the fans and experts alike. The biggest controversy or mystery is the omission of Rohit Sharma. Rohit has been absent from the Mumbai Indians playing XI for the past 3 games and also I am sure BCCI would have consulted the franchise medical staff before making the call. There is no way BCCI would omit their star limited overs player with hearsay or half baked information. There is a reason why Rohit hasn’t been picked for the tour. The fact that MI posted on social media about Rohit practicing after squad announcement is highly unprofessional as despite that he did not partake in an important clash against RCB last night. Considering there isn’t much time between the end of IPL and the beginning of the Australian tour, I feel the call was right.

The next controversy was with the omission of Rishabh Pant from the T20I side. I am a big fan of Rishabh but again I need to be objective about a player. Yes he is brilliant and yes he is very talented but lets look at his numbers just to stay little fair on the players picked. Pant has played 28 T20Is for India and has an average of 20 at a SR of 121. Not earth shattering numbers by any means. His IPL season this year so far has been mixed bag. He hasn’t been his belligerent best and has shown lack of form over the last year or so. Sanju Samson got a lot of criticism from experts for his lack of good FC scores but again we are talking about T20 games. Yes Sanju himself isn’t the most consistent or reliable but when Pant was given 28 games to prove himself, I feel we can at least give Samson 3 more games to show his mettle.

The other contentious spot in the squad was the selection of Varun Chakravarthy. Yes Varun is a reasonably unknown commodity and not many people rate him as a spinner. He has had a great season so far for KKR but again the argument is that there are better spinners available than Varun in India. Fair enough, the only other player who I thought could have been picked is Kuldeep Yadav as he has brilliant T20 numbers but again his bowling has been on the decline in LO formats over the last 18 months. Yes there is Ravi Bishnoi and Rahul Chahar but again I don’t see selection of a young spinner is that bad as it is made to be. It does seem like the selectors have picked him based on his IPL2020 performance but again that’s fine as both spinners I mentioned above is a future star and will be picked soon in the Indian XI. Yes Varun might not be the best spinner in India but again his selection isn’t as bad as it is made out to be. Krunal Pandya and Axar Patel compete directly with Ravindra Jadeja and Washington Sundar. They both are bowling all-rounders and Varun has been picked as a specialist bowler. Sundar and Jadeja have been very good in shorter formats and their bowling this IPL has been brilliant as well. Jadeja especially has been batting brilliantly for CSK. So I don’t see any controversy in their selection.

The one player who even I though should have been in the T20I squad is Suryakumar Yadav. He has been brilliant in IPL for years and it is strange that he does not get picked for the national side. He once again proved last night how amazing he is in this format and I hope that the selectors give him a chance soon in both the LO format. He is a deserving player and should have been part of this squad to Australia.

This is just a 16 member squad and not everyone can get into the XI. There have been few people preferred over the other and while we can argue the merit of others who haven’t been picked, we cannot deny the talent of the people who are in the squad. The rest of the squad is on the expected lines except for the return of Shikhar Dhawan at the top and the addition of Mayank Agarwal in T20 after his brilliant season for KXIP this year so far.

Overall I feel that even though the T20I squad hasn’t impressed everyone, the selectors haven’t done a horrible job as it is made out to be. They have picked the best available players on merit and I don’t see this as a disaster. Everyone might feel someone someone else would have been a better choice in the squad but again that would be in the hindsight.

The T20I and Test squads were announced by BCCI yesterday and while majority of the personnel were as expected there are some interesting selections in both formats. The biggest controversy though is the absence of Rohit Sharma. Rohit who has been missing in the last few games for Mumbai Indians has been left out sparking some speculation regarding the seriousness of his injury. MI management posting that Rohit is back in the nets and is getting ready to play the rest of the games has created some confusion regarding the the star batsman’s current condition.

BCCI though have mentioned that they will monitor his status and will take a call regarding his inclusion. The rest of the squad though had some interesting choices. Varun Chakravarthy who has had a brilliant IPL for KKR has been chosen as the spinner in the T20I squad in place of Kuldeep Yadav. Kuldeep hasn’t been at his best in shorter format for over a year now and him not getting enough chances for his franchise also might have played a part. The T20 squad already has Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravindra Jadeja and Washington Sundar. Hardik Pandya returns to the Indian squad after missing in action due to injury for a while. The rest of the pace attack for the shorter format remains on the expected lines with Navdeep Saini retaining his spot.

Mayank Agarwal gets a go in the T20 team after a stellar IPL2020 and Sanju Samson gets another chance ahead of Rishabh Pant as the lone wicketkeeper in the squad. While Rohit Sharma’s absence does leave a huge void in the squad Shikhar Dhawan returning to the top gives the team the much needed experience in the batting department. BCCI have gone with the performers from the ongoing IPL but again it will be interesting to see how they will perform in a tough Australian tour.

T20I Squad to Australia: Virat Kohli (C), Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul (VC & WK), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Sanju Samson (WK), Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar, Varun Chakravarthy

The ODI squad though is very similar to the T20 one. The biggest surprise though is KL Rahul being the lone wicket-keeper in the squad. Shubman Gill is back in the ODI squad and Mayank Agarwal retains his spot in the team. Prithvi Shaw who was part of the Indian ODI squad to New Zealand does not find a place this time and Kuldeep Yadav returns after being dropped from the T20 team. Shardul Thakur is back in the ODI team and this series also marks the return of Hardik Pandya in all three formats. Ravindra Jadeja retains his all-rounder spot and Yuzvendra Chahal is the other spinner in the ODI team. In the absence of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul doubles up as the deputy to Virat Kohli in the shorter formats on the tour to Australia.

India’s ODI squad to Australia:Virat Kohli (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill, KL Rahul (vice-captain & wicket-keeper), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Mayank Agarwal, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohd. Shami, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur

The Test team though has very less surprises. Rohit Sharma once again is absent from the squad which means that KL Rahul makes a come back as an opener. There is Pritvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal as well who mostly will be the first choice openers at the start. Shubman Gill also has been retained in the squad to provide another opening option. The spin department has the regular 3 spinners, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav. Ishant Sharma’s injury means Mohammad Siraj gets another opportunity in the Test team and Navdeep Saini retains his spot in the squad.

Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah round of a varied and good pace attack. India for sure will miss Ishant Sharma as he has been India’s best bowler over the last couple of years and has helped maintain pressure from one end consistently. Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane retain their middle order spots along with Hanuma Vihari who might play based on the team composition. Hardik Pandya also makes a return as a pace bowling all-rounder after missing in action due to injury.

While there are some controversial selections in the T20 and ODI squads the Test team except for the absence of Rohit Sharma probably is the best they could have done. Mohammad Siraj who has been one of the best domestic bowlers for India over the last few years gets another deserved chance and I hope he gets to play in the XI. The Australian series is scheduled immediately after the IPL and the Indian team will be short of practice in the longer format. It will be interesting how the team cope with this new normal and against a team which will be very tough to beat at home.

Test Squad for Australia: Virat Kohli (c), Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vc), Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Rishabh Pant (wk), Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, R. Ashwin, Mohd. Siraj

Chennai Super Kings haven’t had the greatest of seasons so far. With just 3 wins from 9 games their chances of getting to the playoffs is thinning with every loss. Their loss against Delhi Capitals over the weekend was a must win game to keep their confidence going but again despite putting up a good total their bowling and fielding let that chance slip.

While Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab kept their hopes alive with a moral boosting win, they also put a lot of pressure on CSK and Rajasthan Royals. CSK not only lost the game against Delhi Capitals, they also lost their star all-rounder Dwayne Bravo to injury. Losing him mid game and having to bowl Ravindra Jadeja in the final over cost them dearly. This would also mean that they would have to change their team combination once again. CSK haven’t been able to field a settled combination so far this season and Bravo’s absence is not going to be easy.

The middle order batting options isn’t something which is abundant in CSK’s arsenal. They only have Kedar Jadhav and Narayan Jagadeesan in their squad to fill that slot. The other decision they need to make is between Josh Hazlewood and Lungi Ngidi. Kedhar Jadhav had a poor IPL and was a regular for CSK in the first few games. He isn’t bowling anymore which means that he needs to play only as a batter in the XI. He really struggled with the bat this season and him not being the fastest mover on the field might weigh heavy in the decision making process. Jagadeesan played only one game for CSK and scored 30 odd, it would be unfair to not give him another chance in the XI.

The other option Dhoni & Co have is playing an extra spinner in Piyush Chawla in place of Bravo which also might be one of the discussion points. The other pickle CSK have is that with Bravo missing they need to plug their death bowling void. Bravo and Shardul Thakur did that for CSK in the last few games and with the former injured they need to decide between Hazlewood and Ngidi for that spot. Ngidi does seem the natural choice but again Hazlewood provides CSK with wickets with the new ball. It will be a tough call for the team management ahead of their all important game against Rajasthan Royals.

Making change to the playing XI is always tough but doing it when you are not particularly performing well as a team is even more difficult. CSK will know that any more slip up would mean that their chances of making it to the final four will almost be over. This is a must win the pressure is enormous on MS Dhoni and Stephen Fleming.

My Playing XI:

Sam Curran, Faf Du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu, Shane Watson, MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, N Jagadeesan/Piyush Chawla, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, Karn Sharma, Lungi Ngidi

The IPL has just reached it’s half way mark and this is when the tournament starts to get interesting. There are always a few teams clubbed together on the points table with very less margin for error. Rajasthan Royals are one such team who are involved in a mid table scrum with few other teams in the tournament. With 3 wins and 5 losses, RR are still very much in the hunt for a spot in the playoffs but again they would need to fix their batting order confusion before it is too late.

RR started the tournament with Yashasvi Jaiswal opening the batting with captain Steven Smith in the absence of Jos Buttler. Once Buttler returned Jaiswal wasn’t picked anymore until later with Steven Smith opening the batting in the first few games. All this while they had a solid experienced opener Robin Uthappa in the XI playing in the middle order. RR have been all over the place with their batting order. They haven’t been able to be consistent with the batting order which means that none of their batters are settled in a particular batting position. Steven Smith himself has moved around quite a bit and so did Sanju Samson.

Ben Stokes who returned to RR mid tournament found himself opening the batting out of nowhere in his very first game. Stokes as well all know is a brilliant middle order bat for England in limited overs format. He has done brilliantly as a finisher for England in all formats and has been brilliant for them in positions 5 and 6. Ben Stokes has so far played 121 LO games and he hasn’t opened one in those number of games. His strongest position has been number 5 for England and it is hard to understand the rationale behind sending him to open the batting by the RR team management.

Rajasthan Royals do have issues with the middle order where they for sure lack experience and Ben Stokes coming in at number 5 would be the ideal scenario for their team. They have young Riyan Parag and Rahul Tewatia batting lower down the order and having Stokes guiding them would mean they would finish more games successfully. Robin Uthappa at number 5 hasn’t been working for RR but again him at the top of the order would give the perfect balance to the batting order. Uthappa has been Indian ODI opener and has opened successfully for KKR for years and it boggles my mind why RR would keep him lower down the order.

Uthappa not only has the shots to score quickly, he can drop anchor and bat through if Buttler gets going as well. This would mean Steven Smith, Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, Riyan Parag, Rahul Tewatia would make a brilliant middle order for RR. Rajasthan Royals have toyed with that opening spot since the start of the tournament and they haven’t been able to settle on the same yet. Ben Stokes did score 41 in last nights game but again RR did lose the match in the end as they lacked experienced finisher at 5 or 6. Stokes value to RR would surely be in the middle order and not at the top. RR don’t have much room for mistake anymore and they have reached a point in the tournament where every game is almost a must win. They would have to settle their batting order soon and if they do that consistency in results will follow.

Right batting order for RR:

Jos Buttler, Robin Uthappa, Steven Smith, Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, Riyan Parag, Rahul Tewatia, Shreyas Gopal, Jofra Archer, Jaydev Unadkat, Kartik Tyagi

Chennai Super Kings have had a horrible start to IPL2020 with just 2 wins in 7 games. This is not the first time the men in yellow have found themselves in such a quagmire. They were in similar situation in 2010 as well. That time though they won 5 out of their next 7, reached the playoffs and then eventually beat Mumbai Indians in the finals to win their first IPL title. The biggest difference between then and now is not only the personnel but also the will to pull off such a heist again.

CSK of 2010 was a brilliant team. They had a brilliant opening pair of Matthew Hayden and Murali Vijay. Vijay during the initial seasons was a brilliant player for CSK who scored couple of hundreds for them in the tournament. They also had a firing Suresh Raina who had another 500+ run season. They had Subramaniam Badrinath who scored 350 runs at 32 and held the middle order for the team and the captain himself who was in amazing form.

The bowling attack in 2010 had the brilliant Doug Bollinger who was hard to get away. They also had Muttaih Muralitharan who had a brilliant season with the ball. Ravichandran Ashwin had a breakthrough year for CSK which propelled his ascent to the national team in the same year. All-Rounder Albie Morkel and Shadab Jakati all had brilliant years with the ball. The team was firing after the initial setback and had a captain who was fresh, fit and was motivating to a team which knew how to win.

The CSK team in 2020 isn’t anywhere near the ability the team of 2010 had. First of all there is no Suresh Raina who most often than not ends up scoring 500 runs in a season for CSK. They don’t have a solid middle order which CSK had in the initial seasons of the tournament. They also don’t have a bowling attack which quite as varied and potent as the 2010 attack was. The biggest issue for CSK this season other than the age of the squad is a jaded and tired MS Dhoni. The biggest talisman for CSK over the years has been their captain “Thala” Dhoni. When the season started this year question marks were raised as to how would Dhoni perform after not having played for a long time.

Even though CSK had a dream start to the season beating MI in the first game, when Dhoni pushed himself below everyone in the order, the answer was there for everyone to see. The MS Dhoni we knew would have walked out after Rayudu’s dismissal to finish the game of himself but he sent Jadeja and Sam Curran ahead of him. When he was struggling to bat in the game against SRH it was evident that the man is strategically and physically not in his best shape to guide this team anymore.

The planning before the start of the tournament wasn’t there and CSK did not bid for many young Indian cricketers in the auction last year. With a thin batting which does not have much wiggle room, CSK decided to invest more on the bowling. The strategy which did not make sense even during that time. While Riyan Parag, Devdutt Padikkal and Priyam Garg all are looking good for their respective franchise, CSK haven’t been consistent with Ruturaj Gaikwad in the playing XI. They finally gave a chance to Jagadeesan last game but again strategically playing another wicketkeeper in the XI and making him field in the outfield was poor. Jagadeesan dropped a catch and I don’t blame him as I am not sure how often he has had to do that.

Chennai Super Kings have a great legacy in IPL. They are the only team to reach the playoffs in all the seasons they have been part of. A streak which seems to be coming to an end this season. In all probability this might be MS Dhoni’s last season as a player for CSK and I hope that the team has a little bit gas left in the tank to make one final push. They might not be able to win the title but they would want to end the season with some good performances. CSK still are mathematically in this tournament but the question is whether they have the will to fight once again with their backs to the wall. It is not going to be easy but if there is one team who can fight the odds it is CSK.

After starting the season with two wins, Rajasthan Royals have now lost three games in a row. It is interesting though that their two wins came at Sharjah and all their losses have been in Abu Dhabi & in Dubai. Batting has been the major issue for RR this season. While their batters have been brilliant in Sharjah, they haven’t been able to replicate the same on bigger grounds of Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

RR have a very good batting line up but it does seem like their thinking is little muddled in terms of selection. They have played around with the opening combination in the five games so far. While they started with Yashasvi Jaiswal in their first game, they dropped him in their second to go with Steven Smith and Jos Buttler. After 4 games they once again decided to bring Jaiswal back to have him open with Buttler dropping Smith to number 3. This shows lack of clarity in the team management and moving players around so much normally does not yield consistent results.

The interesting fact is that they also have Robin Uthappa in their squad who was played in the middle order for the first few games only to be dropped in their last game against Mumbai Indians. Robin Uthappa being a opener himself wasn’t tried at that spot before being dropped from the team. For young Jaiswal though the pressure will be immense as he would know that another failure could see him getting dropped again. The other problem for RR has been the lack of consistency from their star player Sanju Samson. While Samson was unstoppable on tiny Sharjah ground, he has struggled on the other grounds this season.

He hasn’t tried to stick it out and has thrown his wicket away in the last three game his team has played. The pattern so far has been similar to last year for RR as Samson who started brilliantly then too fell off later in the season. Jos Buttler has looked good and has played couple of good knocks and so has Steven Smith. The fact that their middle order keeps changing every game does not help matters. Riyan Parag has played a few games, David Miller has gotten a game and there have been few others who have been hastily changed without proper chances.

They still have Manan Vohra in their squad who hasn’t gotten a chance to try out which considering their season they might do. While CSK has a problem of not having enough options, RR have the opposite issue. Sometimes to kick start a season some sort of consistency in selection is required which RR haven’t been able to achieve in the 5 games they have played so far.

While they are playing the best team of the tournament in the game tonight, they would be happy to their happy hunting ground Sharjah. Scoring freely against a varied bowling attack of Delhi Capitals will not be easy but again they will be hoping for their stars to perform. For RR to turn this season around they would need to pick their best XI and give them 2-3 games in a row. Tonight’s game will be crucial for RR and another loss might see the season slipping away from them once again.

My XI for tonight’s game:

Robin Uthappa, Jos Buttler, Steven Smith, Sanju Samson, Mahipal Lomror, Rahul Tewatia, Jofra Archer, Tom Curran, Shreyas Gopal, Kartik Tyagi, Ankit Rajpoot/Jaidev Unadkat

With 2 wins and 2 losses, Kolkata Knight Riders haven’t really had a poor start to the season. Except for Delhi Capitals and Mumbai Indians, most of the teams have been in the similar bracket. The biggest problem for KKR though has been their lack of clarity with the batting order. The last game against DC which they lost by 18 runs showed how far they were off in terms of their batting order.

For KKR right now the in form batters are Shubman Gill, Eoin Morgan and Nitish Rana. The fact that Eoin Morgan comes so late in the order after an awfully out of form captain Dinesh Karthik is way beyond comprehension. The experiment with Sunil Narine isn’t working either. KKR used Narine as an opener in India where he provided them with some good starts but again he isn’t doing much in this season for them. There needs to be a point when they need to go for more conventional batting order. Shubman Gill has been in good form but has been losing his partner way too early in every game.

Dinesh Karthik who has been in poor form can open and so could Rahul Tripati who batted at number 8 last game. Eoin Morgan needs to bat at number 4 or 5 for KKR. Him batting at 6 and coming in once the game is already beyond their reach does not make sense. Andre Russell has always been a floater in KKR order and he can continue to do so. The team management and the captain need to make sure they come up with a working batting order which will consistently give them runs. Probably opening the batting is what Dinesh Karthik needs as he hasn’t done anything down the order so far. Him opening means Nitish Rana can bat at number 3 followed by Eoin Morgan, Andre Russell and Rahul Tripati.

The above order actually makes more sense in terms of achieving more consistency in the run scoring. Rahul Tripati and Eoin Morgan scored 80 runs of just 34 balls in the game against DC, so using them so low down the order is criminal. KKR have a good team, but it does seems like they are rigid in their way of thinking and do not want to make changes which will help them to be more consistent in the tournament. Sunil Narine has done brilliantly for them at the start of the innings in the past but again this does not seem to be the season for him. It will be interesting to see if the team management will ring in the right changes in this all important game against a rejuvenated Chennai Super Kings.

My batting order:

Shubman Gill, Rahul Tripati, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan, Dinesh Karthik (WK & Capt), Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Pat Cummins, Shivam Mavi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Varun Chakravarthy

Delhi have been part of IPL since it’s inception in 2008. While they started off with a good first season reaching the play-offs, Delhi Daredevils as they were called then weren’t able to crack the code. They had a very good squad but again for some reason they never gelled as a team to put together one cohesive performance to win the title. Their performances went from bad to worse as the seasons went on and it seemed like DD would never rise from the mediocrity they had pushed themselves into.

In 2018 though everything changed for the team from Delhi. The first thing that happened is that the team rebranded themselves as Delhi Capitals. Obviously the name change alone cannot change the fortunes of a struggling side, they also needed to change their thinking and attitude. Making young Shreyas Iyer the captain of the franchise was the next step which the franchise took that year. Iyer who after being mysteriously dropped from the national side needed something to prove his credentials as one of the bright young players in the country. DC also signed up Australian Ricky Ponting as the head coach of the team in the same year.

The franchise went with young players from India and also signed up some good international players. They did not invest on stars but invested on players who would provide the team with good balance. While DC showed glimpses of good performances over the past couple of seasons they seemed to have finally matured into a good side this season. The best thing about Delhi Capitals this year has been the balance they have in the squad. The addition of Marcus Stoinis this season has been a master stroke as the Australian has been in tremendous form.

Kagiso Rabada is once again having a fantastic season ably supported by his fellow country man Anrich Nortje. They also snapped up Ravichandran Ashwin in a trade off with KXIP and that has added an additional spin option with loads of experience internationally and in this league. They are also one of the few franchises who have a settled and solid opening pair. Even though Shikhar Dhawan hasn’t lit up the tournament yet, Prithvi Shaw has been phenomenal. Shreyas Iyer as usual has been brilliant and Rishabh Pant has done well in the limited chances he has got. This solid top 4 is followed by Stoinis and Shimron Hetmyer. They also have Alex Carey and Ajinkya Rahane sitting in the bench in case they need to change things up. They also have Daniel Sams, Ishant Sharma and Kemo Paul as the pace bowling options if they decide to rest any of the main bowlers later in the season. Young Sandeep Lamichhane is available for DC as well if they would like to experiment.

DC have shown great awareness and planning over the last few years to build a very strong squad. They are probably the only team who have great options for every position who are equally good. The signing of Ajinkya Rahane and Ravi Ashwin over the past couple of seasons shows us that. They like to have solid back ups and that provides them immense confidence to pick any XI they want without compromising the quality of their XI. For example when Ashwin got injured, Amit Mishra seamlessly stepped in and now when the latter is not available Ashwin has come in an delivered.

While they do have an excellent team and have started the season brilliantly, they would want to guard against complacency. It is important to keep performing at a high level through a gruelling tournament to reach the play-offs first and then to actually win the title. Delhi Capitals would know that well begun is half done but they did the same last year as well. Ricky Ponting and Shreyas Iyer will know that they cannot drop the intensity at anytime in this tournament. They do have a great team this season and it will be a shame if they cannot go all the way this time.

Just about a year or so ago, Jasprit Bumrah was bowling like a dream in all formats of the game. The thing which has always been unique about Bumrah is his control in all formats and the way he adapts to different formats easily unlike few other bowlers around the world. He had a brilliant tour to South Africa followed by another brilliant one in England and Australia. All this culminated into that dream series against West Indies where he absolutely demolished the hosts in the 2 Tests he played. He was swinging the ball both ways and caught the host batters napping in both the Tests.

Right after the series the stress fracture happened. The fracture was minor and luckily did not involve surgery. He had a break for few months and was back for the series against Australia in January of 2020. Bumrah struggled in that series for rhythm. He not only was expensive but was also unable to take wickets. While that series may be attributed to him being rusty for missing in action for few months the following series in New Zealand followed similar pattern.

He struggled in the first couple of T20Is but did pull it back with some good spells later in the series. The following ODI series was disastrous for India and Bumrah as the latter struggled for control and wickets once again. Even in the Test series which followed Bumrah’s lack of wickets was one of the reasons India struggled against New Zealand batting. Bumrah finished with 6 wickets at an average of 31 which was below par for his standards. Even though there hasn’t been much cricket played this year due to COVID19, it has been probably the worst year for Bumrah in terms of returns.

In 6 ODIs he played this year he averaged 287 with just 1 wicket. In T20Is he did well with 8 wickets at 20 but in Tests he took 6 wickets in 4 inning for 32. While IPL isn’t the standard we normally would want to measure a player, Bumrah has been a stalwart in this tournament and his start to the season further proves that he is still struggling for rhythm. He has gone for runs in all games he has played and has struggled to bowl yorkers like he used to do before the injury.

His lengths has been all over the place and the way he fed short deliveries to AB De Villiers to be hit for sixes is something you don’t see with Bumrah ever. India tour Australia later this year and Bumrah is a crucial bowler for for the former if they want to repeat their 2018 success. The only reason India won in 2018 was because of the sustained pressure created by the pace bowlers. Bumrah was brilliant in that series bowling at high pace and accuracy. This year Australia will be stronger with the return of Steven Smith and David Warner and the Indian pace attack will have their task cut out.

Ishant Sharma has just returned from an injury and Jasprit Bumrah is still searching for his rhythm. Mohammad Shami has been the only Indian pacer who has looked in fine form in this IPL. Jasprit Bumrah is once in a generation talent and is a bowler who will be winning India lots of games in the future but again the team management should make sure he is in the right headspace. He is being captained by Rohit Sharma and I hope he and MI camp are doing everything to get his confidence back. As an Indian fan I will be watching all the games MI play just to see Bumrah’s bowling as I know that his form is crucial for India in the Test championship and also for the T20 WC next year.


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