Trends Talk: How Krunal’s diminishing returns are hurting Mumbai Indians
In this part of IPL 2021 Trends Talk, we look at the difference in nature of pitches as IPL switches from India to UAE, and the contrasting fortunes of Mumbai and Kolkata.
Greener pastures for the quick men
One group that certainly enjoyed the switch of IPL from India to UAE are the fast bowlers, who dominated the wickets chart last year and have once again found conditions in their favour in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. There has been grass left on the tracks given the two venues have to host 49 matches between them in the next two months in IPL and the T20 World Cup, and the fast bowlers have found to their likening. Pacers have picked 44 wickets as compared to just 10 by the spinners in the first five matches in UAE. We have already seen evidence of this with the Mumbai Indians’ pacers finding more success in the last two games than they did in the Indian leg in the Powerplay – two wickets in 33 overs in India to five in 11 overs in the last two matches. The Delhi Capitals duo of Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje have also wreaked havoc against Sunrisers using pace and bounce on offer to their advantage. The grass is expected to last longer given the volume of matches set to be played and expect the fast bowlers to have a happy hunting time in the near future.
Pacer’s stats in IPL 2021
|Dubai + Abu Dhabi||5||44||21.18||16.2||7.83|
Mumbai’s middle order muddle & fifth bowler issue
In their most dominating of Mumbai Indians’ five title wins last season, all their strong units worked in unison to compensate for the fact Krunal Pandya had an off season with both bat and ball, especially with Hardik playing only as a specialist batter. Unlike the last season in UAE where the new-ball bowlers gave them frequent strikes at the start, they have struggled considerably this season which has had a knock-on effect whenever the fifth bowler came into the attack. Already a bowler short with Hardik not able to bowl, the fifth bowler has been a serious issue for Mumbai this year.
Krunal Pandya’s diminishing returns in IPL
In the last season, the middle order covered up for the shortcomings of the fifth bowler, but they have not fired yet this season. They were not helped by the slowish Chepauk track in their first five matches and looked to be getting back to rhythm in Delhi before the tournament was abruptly interrupted. Given the fact all of Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya have largely struggled, Mumbai cannot afford meagre returns with the bat from Krunal anymore, especially he is the last recognized batter in the lineup. With five matches in hand, time is running out for both Krunal and Mumbai Indians.
MI middle order (#3 – #7)
Kolkata’s new approach & Tripathi’s improved power game
“There were sometimes throughout the season when I just felt we were being paralyzed a little bit by fear,” lamented KKR coach Brendon McCullum after his side suffered their fifth defeat in seven games. He was referring to the sedate approach by the Indian trio of Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana and Rahul Tripathi, all of whom struck under 120 in the Powerplay in the Indian leg. Following the resumption, KKR have adopted a more cavalier approach and has been rewarded with two thumping wins. Rana moved down the order to accommodate Venkatesh Iyer who has been instrumental in giving them fast starts in the run chases against RCB and MI. Knight Riders’ boundary percentage in the first six overs of 20.6 in their first seven games has increased to 25% in the last two, and as a result, the average Powerplay score increased to 60 from 44.
Another KKR batter who has upped his power game and intent is Rahul Tripathi. Having been a good inside-out hitter in the Powerplay against the seamers, he struggled once the field spread out and the spinners came on, with no pace to work on, and his game got exposed due to the lack of power. This year he has upped his power game significantly and is one of the fastest scorers in the middle overs. This has given more breathing space for the power-packed lower middle order of Eoin Morgan, Andre Russell, and Dinesh Karthik – all of whom prefer pace to spin – as they can come towards the latter end of middle overs and feast on the pace bowlers.
Tripathi’s improved power game
|Season||Powerplay SR||Middle overs SR||Bou % in middle overs|
Sunrisers’ boundary hitting issues
Having made it to the playoffs in five successive seasons, the 2021 edition of IPL has been one to forget for the Sunrisers so far. In this cycle of IPL, starting from 2018, they have been consistently at the wrong end of boundary hitting percentages every season. While in the previous seasons they covered up for the deficiency in boundary hitting aspect by having a good bowling attack. Sunrisers’ boundary percentage of 13.68% in this season is the worst for a team since Sunrisers’ 12.57% in their inaugural season in 2013. And unfortunately for them, they don’t seem to have any personnel to get better at it either. In the India leg of the competition, Jonny Bairstow was their standout batter – hitting 20% of the balls he faced for boundaries, compared to 12.5% by the rest of the side. Bairstow’s unavailability has been a killer blow for the side, and in the first match of the UAE leg against Delhi, they could muster only 13 boundaries, three of those coming off free hits. With a misfiring bowling attack outside of Rashid Khan, Sunrisers’ should shed some of the conservatism in their batting approach in general should they seek any improvement in the rankings.
* All stats updated till end of match #35: RCB vs CSK