The Final Stretch Of The IPL 2024 Is Near

Yajurvindra Singh

By: Yajurvindra Singh


May 17th 2024: The Royal Challengers Bangalore:

The IPL 2024 in the midst of India’s General Election has given a twist of lemon to its flavour. Cricket and politics in India are followed with such passion and enthusiasm that to savour both together is quite a stirring experience. The massive crowds at the stadiums as well as the political rallies make one think deeply about what drives such an enthusiastic following amid a hot and humid summer. This loyalty can only come through if one is completely and madly in love with the sport or politics.

The IPL 2024 is in the final stretch of the tournament. Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) have booked their space in the last 4, however, for the latter to qualify in the top 2 places RR will need to win their last match against KKR.

The T20 format is a punishing one. It requires teams to hit the right note from the very onset and the difficult part is to keep the momentum going. Rajasthan Royals looked like a team that had got their act perfectly in place, notching 8 initial wins in style. A slight hiccup of a 1 run defeat against Sunrisers Hyderabad is all it took to upset them mentally. They have now lost the last 4 games in a row and it will need a superlative effort for them to get back into the winning spree.

The uncertainty that this shorter format of cricket offers requires sides to get their batting and bowling quickly in sync. Mumbai Indians, Punjab Kings and Gujarat Titans failed to do so. They were all good sides; however, a few bad decisions and injuries were all it took to identify them as also-ran. One was disappointed especially where Mumbai Indians were concerned. To have the World’s best T20 batter Suryakumar Yadav, accompanied by the flamboyant and stylish batsman, Rohit Sharma and the best bowler in business, Jasprit Bumrah, and for them to not qualify was very disappointing indeed.

Sunrisers Hyderabad seem to be the side who should qualify as well. With Australia’s successful captain, Pat Cummins, leading them they are definitely a front-runner to lift the cup. Their opening pair of Travis Head and Abhishek Sharma have been fabulous and the resurfacing of the swing bowling master, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, will make Hyderabad a handful for any opponent.

The Royal Challengers Bangalore and Chennai Super Kings encounter on Sunday should be the match to look forward to. A team that boasts of Mahendra Singh Dhoni in a duel with the highest run-getter of IPL’24, Virat Kohli, should be a game to enjoy. The winner will clinch a spot into the knockouts.

However, Kolkata Knight Riders is a team that seems to be on an even keel under the watchful eyes of the most successful coach in India at present, Chandrakant Pandit with the astute Gautam Gambhir to support him. They seem like a side enjoying their time together and look to be the favorites, to win the prestigious IPL trophy.

The IPL is a gruelling tournament for players both mentally and physically. The travel and the millions of eyes glued to every move of a player can be quite daunting. A slight misfield, error in length or a rash choice of shot can haunt a player. Recovering from mistakes is never an easy task. The one area in which most losing sides have faltered is in catching. One understands the difficulty that arises when catching in a dark cloudless sky with thousands of enthusiastic spectators who are noisy and disturbing. However, the number of catches that are being dropped is quite astounding, especially some that could have been pocketed with ease. The reason for this can only be nerves and this can only be overcome by plenty of practice and mental strength.

“Catches win matches” is the mantra that every cricketer knows and breathes. Unfortunately, the teams seem to be more focused on players’ batting and bowling performances rather than on their catching and fielding. One would be interested to know as to how many catches each team has dropped and how critical each one has been in the end.

The IPL’24 has brought to the fore a few important factors that teams in the T20 World Cup may implement.

The importance of having dashing stroke players with a good strike rate during the 1st power play onwards is essential. This seems to be the basis on which sides can score heavily if successful, as well as chase down tall scores. This will require the team’s batting line-up to be flexible because to chase a smaller total or one less than 170 runs, batters are not required to play daringly but sensibly. This is an area where one will see plenty of batting order changes.

In bowling, the Yorker and full-length deliveries have become far more effective than the slower ones. Batters are becoming far smarter and are now waiting enthusiastically to dispatch it over the fence. The wrist spinners and their variations have become a potent weapon in the middle overs. Batters are anticipating or predetermining their shots and so many are getting caught unaware, especially, when they are uncertain as to which way the bowler is turning the ball or cutting it.

A score of 200 runs that seemed a relatively safe target 2 years ago has now become a par score for most teams. Batters and teams have understood as to how to pace their innings, similar to the transformation that came about in One Day Internationals.

(Yajurvindra Singh is a former India cricketer. The views expressed are personal)

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