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Home advantage in the IPL

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Home_Away_Ground_IPL_CricketOver the years, one thing has remained constant for all these teams now playing IPL 2018. It is the interaction point of the fans and actual live action- the Home Grounds of these IPL teams. The home grounds have got lots of importance in IPL. As each team plays one home and one away game, success at their home venue is a key factor during the league stage.

The opening match and final of each IPL is traditionally played at the home ground of the champion team from last season. Let’s take a look at the home advantage each IPL team has because of their home ground.

1. Mumbai Indians

Wankhede Stadium- an iconic ground in the history of Indian cricket is the home ground of Mumbai Indians. It has played a silent but significant role in Mumbai Indians’ 3 IPL title victories.

It is ‘The Fortress’ for Mumbai Indians. The defending champions won 5 out of 7 league matches at Wankhede Stadium last year. They won 5 out of 7 matches including a qualifier in 2015, and, in 2013 remained unbeaten at the fortress.

The wicket at Wankhede offers a good amount of bounce. The Mumbai Indians’ squad has produced quality fast bowlers like Lasith Malinga, Jasprit Bumrah, Mitchell McClenaghan, Mitchell Johnson and many more. Sometimes it offers a batting friendly wicket. Mumbai Indians suffered one of their biggest defeats when Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers scored the highest partnership of any IPL, putting up 229 runs together.

This season, Mumbai Indians have again picked a squad that is suitable for the conditions at home. Though they lost their first 2 home games out of 3, both nail-biters, against CSK and DD in 2018, they can bank upon the remaining games at ‘The Fortress’ to make it to the knockouts.

2. Chennai Super Kings

Just when CSK and their fans were celebrating the coming victory at ‘Home Sweet Den’, they got the bitter news of IPL matches being moved out of Chennai due to the Cauvery water dispute and the protests which took place during the match between CSK and KKR. CSK has had all their matches moved to Pune.

This new venue brings lots of uncertainty as well as some hopes. Uncertainty as the squad CSK picked up this season, especially their spin dominated bowling attack, was more suitable for the wicket at Chepauk.

CSK had the option of choosing any other venue, including Ranchi, where they have played their home matches in past. They opted for Pune mainly because their captain MS Dhoni has played at this ground for past 2 seasons and knows the pitch really well. Apart from that, Pune has been a fruitful venue for home team. In last season, Rising Pune Supergiant team won 5 out of 7 matches in Pune. Their fast bowlers, Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar, had success on the Pune wicket.

CSK will miss services of local boy Kedar Jadhav. He likes to play at this venue, his home ground. His career defining knock of 120 runs in 88 balls for India against England came at this very venue. With 6 games to play, CSK will be curious to know what the wicket at Pune offers.

3. Kolkata Knight Riders

Eden Gardens has witnessed some of the most mesmerising knocks in Indian cricket history. The home ground of KKR has the largest capacity of all grounds in India. During their championship win in 2014, KKR won all their matches at Eden Gardens.

The wicket at Eden Gardens provides help to spinners as well as fast bowlers. Earlier, KKR were more dependent on their spinners- Narine, Piyush Chawla, and Kuldeep Yadav. In the last 2 seasons, pace bowling has become a strength. KKR defended a low score of 131 by dismissing the star-studded RCB team for just 49 runs where all 10 wickets were taken by pace bowlers.

This season too, they have started by beating RCB comprehensively. KKR has got a new look squad. It will be interesting to see if they can leverage the ‘Eden advantage’ to the fullest in this year’s IPL.

4. Sunrisers Hyderabad

Rajiv Gandhi International cricket stadium in Hyderabad is a home ground of Sunrisers Hyderabad. Unlike other grounds in India, this one has got a bigger boundary, making it difficult for visiting teams to score big runs here. The wicket is dry and offers some turn. In the first match the Sunrisers played, their spinners got lots of help from the wicket.

Last season, Sunrisers won 6 out of 7 matches at home. In total they won 8 matches out of which 6 were at home. This show how comfortable Sunrisers are while playing at their home ground. They have picked their squad to suit home conditions. In their first match, Shakib-al-Hasan and Rashid Khan kept Rajasthan Royals batsmen under control and Sunrisers eventually won.

5. Royal Challengers Bangalore

RCB’s home ground, M Chinnaswamy stadium, is tailor made for the batting heavy side. RCB haven’t been able to take full advantage of it. Last season they couldn’t win even a single game at home. RCB has always been batting heavy but with all the marquee T20 players in their team, they are yet to win IPL title. One of the reasons of that is their weak bowling. On a small ground like Chinnaswamy stadium, RCB bowlers leak runs heavily. This season too their batting looks strongest amongst all IPL teams but at same time bowling looks fragile. In their opening game against KKR, Sunil Narine took their bowling apart.

One more factor that goes against them is the weather in Bangalore. Last few seasons quite a few matches of RCB got affected by rain, due to which they couldn’t get enough points to qualify for the playoffs. This time a drainage system that dries outfield within minutes has been installed. Virat Kohli and his team will be hoping for better performances at their home ground.

6. Rajasthan Royals

RR has a similar story to CSK when it comes to home ground. Rajasthan Royals had to shift their base to Ahmedabad in 2014 after BCCI suspended the Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA). In the 1st IPL season, when RR won the maiden IPL title, they won all the matches at their home ground- Sawai Mansingh Stadium Jaipur.

In 2008, Warne was their captain and they had lost their 1st match against DD, but made a comeback by winning their home games. This year the situation is similar, Warne is back with RR as coach, they have lost their opening game by a huge margin and most importantly, their favourite venue- Sawai Mansingh Stadium is all set to be the home ground of Rajasthan Royals. RR’s strategy at this venue is such that they try to restrict opponent to a low score and then chase it down with their steady batting line up. With a new captain and new team, RR would be looking to turn the matches in their favour on their home ground at Jaipur.

7. Delhi Daredevils

Delhi has not managed to win more than 5 matches at their home ground in any of the past 10 IPL seasons. Only once they managed to win 5 out of 7 home games in 2012 and, as a result, finished at the top spot in points table. Firoz Shah Kotla’s wicket has been a bit gauche, just like the situation of its inclined stands at one end of the wicket.

Usually, games at Feroz Shah Kotla are high scoring but there is no consistent behaviour of the pitch.

Due to this, Delhi has always struggled to get their team combination right. Not exactly knowing the home ground situation has kept them away from winning on most occasions. Also, their captain and coaching staff has altered quite frequently. They tried coaches like Eric Simons, Gary Kirsten, Rahul Dravid and now Ricky Ponting. Homecoming of Gautam Gambhir is a huge advantage for Delhi as he knows Feroz Shah Kotla very well.

This season, Delhi will be playing its 1st 5 matches away from home. This makes their home matches even more critical. But with experience of Gambhir and Ponting, Delhi can expect for better results and more victories at their home ground and thus overall in tournament.

8. Kings XI Punjab

Not all teams are blessed with a good home ground. Kings XI Punjab has shifted its base to Pune and Indore in past. Even this season, they will be playing half of their home matches at Indore for reasons unrelated to cricket. This time it was because of logistical issues. The Chandigarh airport won’t be operational from May 14 and hence they swapped matches with Indore. Now they will play only 3 matches in Mohali and 4 in Indore.

Another big drawback for them is the lack of fans. When all other franchises enjoy stadiums full of fans for every game, the situation in Mohali is different. Support of fans in stadium has added advantage to home team. It creates extra pressure on visiting team.

The Holkar Stadium in Indore has emerged as new home ground for Kings XI Punjab. Even last year they played 3 games there. Now that Kings XI Punjab has 2 home grounds, they would be hoping to clinch their maiden IPL title in this season.

 

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