This write-up is a preview more by definition than by intent. We have come up with an educated estimate of how well or how badly each team is likely to perform, based on a careful study of the most important factor when it comes to a doing well in a long-ish tournament - how ‘well-balanced’ each team is. Oh, and yes, we will be sticking our neck out with some brave predictions, counting on the fact that forty-five days from now, you would have probably forgotten what we said today. Haha.
So, moving on…
There is a simple way to understand the ‘balance’ of each team. If the total strength of the team is 100%, we find out how much each player in the squad contributes to it.
We have taken into account numerous factors such as each batsman’s strike rate, average with unbeaten scores, without unbeaten scores and the performance under pressure in every twenty20 game he ever played (and a similar looking set of statistics for the bowlers). We had to take some serious steps to prevent our statisticians from taking all the street, gully and oongli cricket into account. After that, a lot of math went in to derive the percentage contribution of each player to the team’s overall resources. That told us quite a few stories.
Knight Riders and Deccan begin their journey today; so let’s begin by having a look at their strengths and weaknesses for IPL 3.
Kolkata Knight Riders
There is a joke going around that Mumbai and Kolkata would make the finals this year, given that the last ranked teams from IPL1 ran through IPL2. For Kolkata, that may well turn out to be true with their solid local strength this year.
Knight Riders look solid for IPL 3 primarily because of a power packed batting lineup with three important players, namely Owais Shah, Saurav Ganguly and Brad Hodge available throughout the IPL. They make up a whopping 36.4% of the total resources (batting and bowling) even when Gayle and McCullum are part of the side. Gayle and Bond are set to join the team within the week and the Chargers can consider themselves lucky to play KKR without these two. However, the Sri Lankan duo of Angelo Matthews and Ajanta Mendis and the ever dangerous Langeveldt are more than capable of winning the match for the Knights. McCullum’s absence for the month is a big blow for the Knights though. His likely replacement, Wriddhiman Saha, makes up a mere 5% of the resource base.
The first match can also be seen as an opportunity to test the likes of Rohan Gavaskar and Cheteswar Pujara. The latter can be a significant addition to the side, what with his stats and form suggesting that he is capable of making up 18% of the batting resources single-handedly even in such a star-studded lineup. Time alone shall tell us if he will prove himself in the IPL or if he would even get a chance to – given KKR’s glowing record in terms of dropping terrific talents.
So, in a nutshell,
A more balanced, and a much stronger unit as compared to the one that played last season, and should finish in the top four, if they play their cards right, which they should now that Buchanan is no longer around.
The defending champions seem to be more dependent on their all-rounders than what meets the eye. Andrew Symonds, Dwayne Smith and Rohit Sharma make up 45% of the total resources, which tells us that all is not well in the Chargers’ camp. If one of the all-rounders fails to fire and another is contained in some way, they have a big problem on their hands.
Kemar Roach has been a largely untested resource when it comes to Twenty20 games and is among the dark horses of the tournament. It would be interesting to see which foreign player is dropped to make way for Roach, if Roach is to play. Even without Roach, Deccan Chargers have a fairly reliable bowling lineup that contributes over 30% of the team’s total resources.
The batsmen make up the remaining 25% of the resources on paper. Gibbs played the anchor’s role last year and can be expected to continue playing that role if Laxman doesn’t play or play well. The likes of Gilchrist and Gibbs can twist any statistic on their day, but historically, if I may use that word for a two-year tournament, the bowlers have been the team’s match winners.
So, in a nutshell,
The chargers are overly dependent on a specific set of players, who clicked last time and how, but may not necessarily do so this time. A mid-table finish is what we predict.
Coming soon: predictions for the remaining teams.
(Much is happening in HW's life as far as the IPL is concerned. Check it all out here)