Ashton Turner, lanky and calm, smote Indian bowlers to many parts of Mohali in a match-turning performance in a recent one-day international (ODI) and announced himself for the Indian Premier League (IPL). He is yet to play a T20 match in the IPL, but on the evidence of that international performance and some similar striking for Perth Scorchers in the Australian equivalent of the IPL, the 26-year-old Turner looks a steal for the 50 lakh the Rajasthan Royals spent to acquire him in the auctions.

If Turner is at one end of the spectrum, old tyros like Suresh Raina or AB de Villiers are at the other end.

They might be pushing on the age column, but they are young hearts in ageing bodies, trusty doyens of the IPL. Between those two poles are about 200 players assembled by the eight teams for the annual cricketing jamboree. They are Indian and foreign, young and old, experienced and rookies, and they come together for teams in fascinating ways.

This year, too, there are sides rich in experience and then not quite. There are sides whose lineup runs deep and there are sides that are overly dependent on a handful of players. Given the restriction on teams to field a maximum of four overseas players at a time, there are sides that manage to strike an easy balance in their batting and bowling lineups and those that don’t.

When it comes to balancing all those factors in team composition, a look at the squads for this year’s IPL, especially in the context of previous IPL experience, shows that Chennai and Hyderabad—last year’s finalists—remain the sides to beat. Their sides pretty much pick themselves and they have options to exercise for specific situations.

They are also the two oldest sides in this year’s IPL. At 29.6 years, the average age of the Chennai squad, like several years in the past, is almost four years more than Delhi, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Bangalore. Having said that, most players who are pushing up that average for Chennai still look to be on the right side of the 30s and they pack in a wealth of IPL experience.

Cumulatively, among the 2019 squads, Chennai has scored 67% more runs than the next most-prolific batting side (Hyderabad) and taken 46% more wickets than the next best (Mumbai). At the other end of the spectrum, on the batting side, is a team like Delhi. It has the least IPL batting experience, with its cumulative IPL runs being nearly one-third of Chennai. Delhi is also tight on batting options, dependent on the chosen six to fire, several of whom are young Indian players, who have shown promise, but are yet to deliver in a manner that makes them the rocks of any team.


Going deeper into the batting domain, all teams depend on the top batsmen. We looked at some key IPL metrics for the top six batsmen in each side by runs scored. A good construct here is an average above 30 (consistency), several batsmen with above 1,000 runs (pedigree) and the presence of at least four Indians in each team’s list (to balance the presence of overseas players across the two disciplines). On these counts, Chennai and Hyderabad do the best.

For the top six batsmen by runs scored, Chennai has the highest cumulative runs scored and average, and five Indians in the list. Even beyond them, it has eight players who have scored more than 1,000 runs in the IPL.

While Hyderabad does not match Chennai in experience, David Warner and Kane Williamson make it count. But relying on this overseas duo means two foreign player spots are taken up. If it adds a third foreign player as a batsman, its ability to add overseas players on the bowling side thins out. It’s a situation also faced by Punjab and Kolkata (chart 2). The unknown factor is players breaking out, as Turner did against India.

In the bowling department, among the top four bowlers in each side by wickets taken, while Chennai leads in overall numbers, there are several other sides notching up useful numbers.

Kolkata, Bangalore, Mumbai, and Hyderabad are all better endowed with top bowlers who are good in snagging wickets. The Hyderabad quartet backs it with Indian presence and frugality, as they showed last year in defending totals.

On the extreme is Punjab, which has the highest bowling average. It is strong at the top with R. Ashwin and Andrew Tye, two of the most frugal bowlers in the IPL, but thins after them. It’s, therefore, about how teams magnify their strengths and overcome their weaknesses.

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