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Indian Premier League 2020

The one issue each IPL team has to address before the next season

by Sankalp Srivastava 5-minute read

As the dust settles on IPL 2020, we identify one issue each franchise needs to sort out ahead of the next season.

IPL 2020 had one of the most competitive league stages in the tournament’s history, with every team managing a minimum of 12 points – for context, Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) qualified for the IPL 2019 playoffs with that points figure. This time around, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) didn’t make the playoffs despite hitting 14 points, which was a first in IPL history when eight teams were in contention.

In short, there wasn’t much to separate most teams on paper, but where Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals trumped the rest was by identifying their problems quickly, and fixing them before it was too late. However, that’s just one generic lesson every other team needs to take home.

There are more specific problems each team has to tackle ahead of IPL 2021, which is expected to start in April 2021. That’s just five months away, and teams need to get cracking before going again. Below, we look at the one thing each team has to change before the next tournament.

IPL 2020: Rajasthan Royals (RR) – Settled batting order

The Rajasthan Royals think-tank did all sorts of experiments with their batting order during the course of IPL 2020. They started off with Yashasvi Jaiswal and Steve Smith at the top, dropped the youngster after the first match to promote Jos Buttler to open the innings, before bringing Jaiswal back in, but this time, parterning him with Buttler. That experiment lasted two matches before Ben Stokes joined the side, following which the England all-rounder was handed the opening duties with compatriot Buttler, and when that didn’t work out the way they’d hoped, the management had Robin Uthappa open with Stokes.

The Uthappa-Stokes duo opened in the remaining encounters, and though they didn’t quite light up the tournament, they provided the team with some solid starts. But with all the shuffling and shifting, the damage was already done. RR finished at the bottom of the pile, albeit just two points below the fourth-placed RCB. If the RR management can settle on a stable opening pair, and clarify the roles of every batsman in the team, then there’s no reason why they can’t be among the top teams in IPL 2021.

Chennai Super Kings – Rebuild around young guns, remove deadwood

CSK’s reluctance to try new combinations and give their youngsters an opportunity hurt them. Ruturaj Gaikwad, who finished the season with three consecutive fifties, was dropped after the first two matches. N Jagadeesan wasn’t given an extended run either, even though he scored 33 in his first appearance of the tournament against RCB, which was the team’s second-highest total in the match.

Instead, the side continued with the likes of Kedar Jadhav in the middle order, who despite playing eight matches, accumulated just 62 runs. Dhoni, too, underwhelmed, along with Shane Watson, Murali Vijay, and Piyush Chawla. If CSK are to return to winning ways in the IPL, with a strong performance next season, they need to trust their young guns and remove the deadwood.

Kings XI Punjab – Add depth to the batting order

Kings XI Punjab relied far too heavily on their top three of KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal and Chris Gayle, who did the bulk of their scoring. Even when Rahul and Agarwal were going all guns blazing at the start of the tournament, the side failed to secure the victories those performances deserved. It was only after Gayle was included in the squad for an extra bowler that they managed to string a few wins.

Even then, however, the continuous selection of Glenn Maxwell raised a few eyebrows. The Australian all-rounder played all but one of their matches, scoring just 108 runs and failed to hit even a single maximum. And with Maxwell underperforming, KXIP dearly missed batting depth. It’s something they will need to sort out before heading into the next season. If they do, this could be a very good team.

Kolkata Knight Riders – Settled batting order

KKR’s was another case of a muddled batting order hampering the team’s chances. On paper, they looked one of the more solid sides in the tournament, with four top overseas players and extremely talented locals. However, they couldn’t convert their strength on paper to performances on the field. Though Shubman Gill remained a constant at the top, his opening partners kept changing, from Sunil Narine to Tom Banton to Rahul Tripathi, and finally, Nitish Rana.

Eoin Morgan batted lower than expected, even coming down at six. Dinesh Karthik, Andre Russell and Rana were all shunted up and down the order, which didn’t help their case at all. Ahead of the next season, the first thing they need to sort out is the batting order. The rest will follow.

Royal Challengers Bangalore – Solid middle-order batsman

The Royal Challengers Bangalore were a much-improved side this season. But even so, there were gaping holes in their squad, all of which were exposed during IPL 2020, particularly during their run of five losses on the bounce. While Devdutt Padikkal was a welcome addition at the top of the order, when Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers underperformed, they suffered due to the lack of a solid middle-order batsman – someone like Morgan – who can steady the ship in the case of a batting collapse.

Their first objective for the auctions should be to sign a solid middle-order batsman who can help see the side through if both Kohli and de Villiers fail to perform. A world-class fast bowler will help, too.

Sunrisers Hyderabad – Indian finisher

Sunrisers Hyderabad did exceedingly well to finish in the top three, and make it as far as Qualifier 2. They had their issues at the start of the season – the lack of a proper Indian finisher, and the overseas combination. The inclusions of Kane Williamson and Jason Holder in the latter half of the league phase allowed them to solve their overseas combination, and mount a challenge in the knockouts.

However, they still need an Indian finisher. SRH were often put under the pump by opponents looking to punish their middle order short on experience. Abdul Samad and Abhishek Sharma showed promise, but they need a more experienced, more dependable partner in the middle order to help finish things off in the death overs.

Delhi Capitals – Opening woes

Delhi Capitals did supremely to make it to the final, but their top order was the one area they can improve upon. Prithvi Shaw was out of form, and Ajinkya Rahane took a while to get going, all of which meant they sent Marcus Stoinis out to open in Qualifier 2 against SRH. It worked on that occasion, as Stoinis dovetailed well with Shikhar Dhawan, but the ploy fell apart in the final when Trent Boult dismissed Stoinis first ball.

DC will hope Prithvi Shaw will find his form again, as that will help solve their problem. However, they still need depth in the opening slots, and it’s one area they will look to address in the next auctions as they seek to take one step further in IPL 2021.

Mumbai Indians – World-class spinner

Mumbai Indians have rightly been lauded by many as the best T20 side in the world, following their fifth IPL title win. However, there is still an area they can improve on: the spin department. A young Rahul Chahar was exceptional for them this season, but adding an overseas world-class mystery spinner to their squad – someone like a Mujeeb Ur Rahman or Sandeep Lamichhane, who struggled to get games for their respective franchises – could plug any potential holes in a squad that is impeccably balanced.


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