While T20 cricket may be seen primarily as a batsman’s game, the auction for Indian Premier League 2020 in Kolkata saw bowlers walking away with most of the massive deals. Pat Cummins broke the record for the most expensive overseas player after being purchased by Kolkata Knight Riders for Rs 15.5 crore. West Indies pacer Sheldon Cottrell was bought by Kings XI Punjab for Rs 8.5 crore while veteran leggie Piyush Chawla went to Chennai Super Kings for Rs 6.75 crore.
In this feature, we analyze the bowling strength of all eight IPL franchises. On the basis of the same, teams have been graded as strong, average and weak.
Like their batting, defending champions Mumbai also have an impressive bowling line-up. At the auction, they purchased Nathan Coulter-Nile for Rs 8 crore, who is a proven performer in the format. Earlier, New Zealand pacer Trent Boult was also traded-in. Jasprit Bumrah could yet again prove to be MI’s trump card while Dhawal Kulkarni, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, and Mitchell McClenaghan will be expected to provide him support. It remains to see if Lasith Malinga, who picked up four wickets in four balls against New Zealand in September, can deliver again.
Chennai Super Kings
Unlike their aging batting, which might not be CSK’s strongest suit next year, their bowling attack is much more impressive. All-rounder Sam Curran’s purchase for Rs 5.5 crore may work very well for them if he is utilized properly. Pre-auction, they already had a strong bowling attack with each one from Deepak Chahar, Imran Tahir, Dwayne Bravo, Mitchell Santner, Lungi Ngidi to Ravindra Jadeja capable of delivering with the ball.
Delhi went for all-rounders Marcus Stoinis (Rs 4.8 crore) and Chris Woakes (Rs 1.5 crore) at the auction, both of whom can make a difference with their medium pace. Prior to the auction, they had retained Ishant Sharma and Kagiso Rabada, who have proved to be match-winners with the ball. The decision to trade in Ravichandran Ashwin from Kings XI Punjab prior to the auction has also strengthened their spin department, which otherwise consisted of the likes of Amit Mishra, Sandeep Lamichhane and Axar Patel, who haven’t been consistent.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Despite purchasing Aussie speedster Pat Cummins for a record Rs 15.5 crore, KKR still cannot boast of possessing a great bowling attack. Their decision to go for spinner Varun Chakravarthy (Rs 4 crore), who played just one game in 2019 season, seems somewhat baffling. And, while Kuldeep Yadav just got an ODI hat-trick, his T20 form remains a concern. Sunil Narine is not the threat he used to be. And, while 48-year-old Pravin Tambe’s (Rs 20 lakh) inclusion is an inspirational choice, whether he can deliver the goods remains to be seen.
Kings XI Punjab
KXIP strengthened their bowling by bringing in England’s T20 specialist Chris Jordan (Rs 3 crore). Yes, West Indian left-armer Sheldon Cottrell was purchased for a whopping Rs 8.5 crore, but it was a surprise of sorts as, while Cottrell has been effective, he hasn’t been sensational in any sense. Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb ur Rahman, James Neesham, M Ashwin make for a decent attack. Whether they can win T20 games as a combination is open to discussion.
For some inexplicable reason, RR went for left-arm pace Jaydev Unadkat again, this time for Rs 4 crore. Australia’s T20 specialist Andrew Tye was a decent bargain for Rs 1 crore. In the 2020 season, they would be heavily dependent on England’s World Cup-winning pacer Jofra Archer and leggie Shreyas Gopal, who has been highly impressive for RR over the last couple of seasons. There is also Ben Stokes, who can be handy with his medium pace.
Apart from all-rounder Mitchell Marsh (Rs 2 crore), Hyderabad went for local talent at the auction — Sandeep Bavanaka, Sanjay Yadav, Abdul Samad (all purchased for Rs 20 lakh). Leaving aside Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who is currently injured, and the Afghan duo of Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan, they really do not have much versatility in the bowling. Khaleel Ahmed, Sandeep Sharma, Siddharth Kaul and Billy Stanlake are Hyderabad’s other options in the bowling department
Royal Challengers Bangalore
RCB went for all-rounder Chris Morris at Rs 10 crore, a debatable decision since Morris hasn’t been at his best of late. Also, while Dale Steyn (Rs 2 crore) is great in his own right, he struggles in IPL in recent years have been evident. If you look at their bowling attack, they are again heavily dependent on Yuzvendra Chahal, who himself has been losing steam of late. There will be high hopes from Navdeep Saini, but Umesh Yadav and Moeen Ali are perceptible weak links. After a poor year with team India, it remains to be seen how Washington Sundar responds in the IPL.