While Chennai and Mumbai bear a settled look, some of the other teams are struggling to strike a balance on the batting and bowling fronts
The recent IPL auction brought about changes in all teams that were involved in last year's tournament. While the finalists Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians retained most of the core members of their squads, the same was not true with the other teams. The absence of Matthew Hayden, Anil Kumble and other senior players has meant that teams have spent huge amounts and fiddled with their composition in order to strike a balance on both the batting and bowling fronts. While top players like Gautam Gambhir, Yusuf Pathan and Yuvraj Singh have gained from the 2011 auction, it is the upcoming young stars like Saurabh Tiwary and R Ashwin who have had extraordinary increases from their 2008 base prices. It remains to be seen however, if they can justify the big spending with quality on-field performances as they did in earlier seasons.
The auction has meant that there have been significant differences in the batting and bowling strengths of teams as compared to last year. The table below summarises the stats of the top five batsmen and bowlers of each team in IPL 2010 and the 2010 stats of the players in the present squads.
Chennai and Mumbai remain strong
Chennai, who won both the IPL 2010 and the Champions League, were by far the best team last year. They had a balanced batting line-up with Murali Vijay and Suresh Raina in top form. Hayden's absence has been compensated for by the inclusion of the talented Faf du Plessis and West Indian allrounder Dwayne Bravo. Muttiah Muralitharan, who was outstanding in last year's tournament, will be missed but Chennai have an excellent bowling attack that includes Doug Bollinger and R Ashwin, who were among the top wicket-takers in IPL 2010. The addition of Tim Southee, who picked up 18 wickets in the 2011 World Cup, is a further boost to their bowling. From the table, it can be seen that Chennai have not been affected in either the batting or bowling fronts as a result of the auction.
Mumbai, like Chennai, have an extremely strong line-up. The presence of the in-form Sachin Tendulkar and the aggressive Davy Jacobs at the top is a daunting prospect for most opponents. Jacobs, who was the second-highest run-getter at the 2010 Champions League, is a valuable addition to the squad. While Kieron Pollard's hitting power in the middle order is invaluable, the addition of Andrew Symonds and Rohit Sharma is a huge plus to the batting. All three also provide handy bowling options to support Lasith Malinga and Harbhajan Singh, who will lead the attack in the absence of Zaheer Khan.
Balance the key for Deccan, Delhi and Kolkata
Deccan Chargers, last year's semi-finalists, will miss Adam Gilchrist, Symonds and Rohit in their batting line-up. However, the presence of Kevin Pietersen and the in-form Kumar Sangakkara and JP Duminy will be encouraging. The aggressive Michael Lumb, who scored 278 runs at a strike rate over 144, is likely to open the innings for Deccan. The bowling front, however, looks far more settled. Dale Steyn and Ishant Sharma, together with Pragyan Ojha and Amit Mishra, two of the most successful spinners from IPL 2010, form a fine bowling attack.
Delhi's batting has been considerably weakened by the loss of Gambhir and Tillakaratne Dilshan. Despite the presence of Virender Sehwag and David Warner at the top, it is the slightly weaker middle order that could be a worry. On the spin front, the economical Daniel Vettori's experience will be hard to replace.
Kolkata's batting has been boosted heavily by the addition of Jacques Kallis, Eoin Morgan and Yusuf Pathan. The presence of Gambhir and Ryan ten Doeschate, who were superb in the just-concluded World Cup, further adds weight to an already strong line-up. Although the bowling is slightly weaker than last year, Brett Lee and Shakib Al Hasan are very good additions to the squad.
Bangalore, Rajasthan and Punjab weaker
With the departure of Kallis and Manish Pandey, Bangalore have lost a highly successful opening pair. Dilshan and AB de Villiers who are part of the Bangalore squad, did not have a great time last year and this is reflected in the batting stats of the present team. However, Saurabh Tiwary and Virat Kohli will be the key in a middle order that will undoubtedly miss the services of Ross Taylor. The bowling, despite the loss of Steyn, looks dangerous with the presence of the experienced Vettori and Zaheer.
Taylor and Rahul Dravid form the core of an otherwise brittle Rajasthan batting line-up which is weakened by Yusuf Pathan's exit. Along with Shane Warne's captaincy, Shane Watson's all-round skills will be immensely important if Rajasthan are to challenge the other teams this season.
Punjab's batting looks suspect but for the presence of Gilchrist and David Hussey. Shaun Marsh's fitness and form will be vital to their batting line-up which appears far weaker than last year. The bowling however, looks competitive with Ryan Harris and Praveen Kumar on the pace front and Piyush Chawla as the spin option.
Kochi's batting problems
Pune have a decent batting line-up led by Yuvraj Singh, the Man of the Tournament in the 2011 World Cup. Robin Uthappa, who scored 374 runs for Bangalore last season, and Jesse Ryder are part of an aggressive middle order.
Mahela Jayawardene, who scored a century in the World Cup final, has been in superb form in Twenty20 Internationals in 2010. He, along with Brad Hodge and Brendon McCullum, will be crucial to Kochi's chances. Kochi's bowling, however, has been boosted heavily by the inclusion of Muralitharan.
|Team||Total for top 5 run-getters (Runs,SR) in IPL 2010||Total for top 5 run-getters in present squad (IPL 2010 stats)||Total for top 5 wicket-takers (Wickets,ER) in IPL 2010||Total for top 5 wicket-takers in present squad (IPL 2010 stats)|
|Chennai||1967, 135.57||1819, 141.00||64, 7.15||55, 7.27|
|Deccan||1696, 129.77||1219, 133.24||69, 7.40||68, 7.54|
|Delhi||1396, 137.20||1356, 143.32||45, 7.48||36, 7.77|
|Punjab||1575, 135.72||915, 122.54||44, 8.73||43, 8.09|
|Kolkata||1377, 127.29||1637, 131.80||42, 7.61||38, 8.19|
|Mumbai||1857. 142.20||1958, 143.25||69, 7.30||66, 7.14|
|Rajasthan||1356, 143.05||727, 133.85||43, 8.39||38, 7.94|
|Bangalore||1758, 134.19||1003, 112.55||71, 7.73||32, 7.83|
|Pune||-||1155, 129.83||-||31, 7.42|
|Kerala||-||788, 111.66||-||50, 8.24|
Among the various grounds where the matches were played last season, Mumbai (DY Patil), Nagpur and Delhi proved to be quite difficult for batting as the low runs per wicket indicates. On the other hand, Dharamsala provided the most batting-friendly conditions. Teams scored at an average of nearly 50 and at a run-rate of 9.37. Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata and Mumbai (Brabourne) proved to be batting-friendly surfaces. Of the nine 200-plus scores in IPL 2010, two each were made at these four venues.
In almost all grounds, pace bowlers proved to be more expensive than spinners. Spinners were highly successful in Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai (DY Patil). In Chennai especially, they picked up 34 wickets to the fast bowlers' 36 and averaged just over 26 as compared to pacemen who averaged 35.
|Ground||Runs per wicket||Run-rate||Pace bowlers (wickets,ER)||Spin (Wickets,ER)|
|Barabati, Cuttack||22.20||8.32||8, 8.97||11, 7.84|
|Brabourne, Mumbai||29.31||8.54||51, 8.57||19, 7.73|
|DY Patil, Mumbai||19.94||7.30||49, 7.30||27, 6.74|
|Eden Gardens, Kolkata||30.95||8.00||42, 8.04||20, 7.58|
|Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi||22.36||7.98||51, 8.25||33, 7.32|
|HPCA stadium, Dharamsala||49.26||9.37||10, 10.37||8, 7.36|
|Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore||30.51||8.59||44, 8.54||19, 7.58|
|Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai||27.14||8.20||36, 35.00||34, 26.02|
|Punjab C.A Stadium, Mohali||26.24||8.23||40, 8.38||14, 7.37|
|Motera, Ahmedabad||25.97||7.98||25, 8.21||10, 7.38|
|Sawai Man Singh Stadium, Jaipur||28.48||7.97||23, 7.85||2, 7.86|
|Jamtha, Nagpur||18.37||7.44||28, 7.47||13, 6.71|