IPL 2018: What clicked, what didn’t
Wicketkeepers, young players shine; Ben Stokes, Glenn Maxwell, Rohit Sharma fail. Here are the biggest hits and misses from this IPL season
The 11th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) saw the return of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) after a two-year ban and both teams reached the play-off stage with much fanfare, putting questions about their popularity to rest. In fact, as we have argued in this space before, the fanbase is consolidating. The occasional IPL fan has come and gone and those who remain are there to support “their” team, no matter what the circumstances. What else could explain the packed Feroz Shah Kotla stadium on 18 May for the match between Delhi Daredevils (DD) and CSK, a dead rubber? CSK had already qualified for the last four and DD had only their pride to protect.
Clearly, the IPL is here to stay.
Before the start of the season, IPL’s global media rights were sold to Star India for $2.52 billion (about Rs17,136 crore) in a five-year contract. Television viewership has increased. For the first 43 matches this season, total viewership was 1.02 billion impressions, according to the Broadcast Audience Research Council (Barc) India, up 13% from 905 million impressions last season for the first 43 games (impressions refer to the number of individuals, in thousands, of a target audience who viewed an event, averaged across minutes).
It did help that this year was one of the most competitive editions of the league: After the 52nd match, just four games before the play-offs, only two teams had qualified for the last four. There was a five-way battle for the remaining two spots. As the 11th edition draws to a close tomorrow, here is a look at some of the biggest hits and misses this year. All calculations have been made till the last group match.
Young Indian players: Three Indians feature in the list of five highest scorers. Virat Kohli is not on the list. Rishabh Pant finished the IPL with 684 runs at an average of over 52 with a strike rate of more than 173. K.L. Rahul, at No.3, scored 659 runs at an average of almost 55 and strike rate of over 158. Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya featured in the top 5 list of wicket takers. Ironically, none of the teams with these players reached the play-offs.
Wicketkeeper batsmen: It was a season of wicketkeeper batsmen. On the one hand were young Rahul and Pant, with 16 and six dismissals, respectively. And on the other, veterans such as M.S. Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik, who assisted in 11 and 16 dismissals, respectively, and scored over 400 runs each.
U19 players: Five Indian U19 players—Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shubman Gill, Prithvi Shaw, Shivam Mavi and Anukul Roy—were drafted in this year’s IPL. While Roy didn’t play a single game and Nagarkoti missed out due to injury, the others did fairly well. Shaw was consistent, Gill showed he can finish matches, and Mavi impressed with the ball clocking 140 kmph consistently. Another U19 player, Afghanistan’s Mujeeb Ur Rehman, finished in the top 10 list of wicket takers.
Ben Stokes: In his debut season last year, the English all-rounder scored 316 runs and picked 12 wickets to become the player of the series. He was the most expensive player in this year’s auction, at Rs12.5 crore. But in the 13 matches that he played for RR this year, he only managed 196 runs and eight wickets.
Rohit Sharma: The most successful captain in IPL history, Sharma has been one of the league’s most consistent performers. But for the first time in his IPL career, he couldn’t reach the 300-run mark. And Mumbai Indians finished fifth, agonizingly close to earning a spot in the play-offs.
Glenn Maxwell: Sunrisers Hyderabad and RR would be happy that Maxwell went to DD for Rs9 crore. Barring some stunning relay catches though, the Australian was one of the biggest underperformers, with just 169 runs in 12 matches.