While the Indian Premier League 2020 final was effectively a one-sided affair, it gave fans, players, coaches and critics alike some insight into themes and trends to look out for when the 14th edition of the tournament gets underway next year.
Return to India good for spinners
A move away from the United Arab Emirates and return to India will likely see spinners back at the fore. The 2020 edition of the IPL’s top four wicket-takers were all seamers. Kagiso Rabada, Jasprit Bumrah, Anrich Nortje and Trent Boult all took advantage of the seam-friendly conditions in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. All four fast bowlers were vital in the IPL final, too. When the IPL 2021 gets going, star performances from spinners will probably feature at venues like the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi, Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai and others. This should prove prevalent in the odds offered by the IPL betting sites, which will have the likes of star spinners Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravi Bishnoi and others among their top bowler and player of the match markets.
Sticking with the tried and tested
The value of not chopping and changing the XI was also epitomised by Mumbai – and could be evidenced again next year. While other franchises sifted through players and combinations, Mumbai mainly stuck with a settled method and XI. The selection of Ishan Kishan quickly too priority over Saurabh Tiwary, while Nathan Coulter-Nile and James Pattinson – as like-for-like Australian seamers – were interchangeable as dictated by the situation, scenario, conditions and circumstance.
The value of leadership depth
Rohit Sharma missed a few matches due to injury, but Mumbai had a capable leadership replacement in Kieron Pollard. He had done so for the West Indies and in the Caribbean Premier League, so was quickly poised to take over from Sharma when opportunity knocked briefly. Although they didn’t reach the final – not even the playoff stage of the tournament – the Kolkata Knight Riders also showed the value of having an excellent second in command. When Eoin Morgan took over from Dinesh Karthik, it signalled to other franchises the importance of depth in leadership for the remainder of the tournament and, indeed, the 2021 IPL season.
The merit of reserves
Injuries ahead of and during major domestic T20 tournaments are an inevitability than probability. The Capitals displayed how vital it is to have other options at hand if first-choice squad members are withdrawn for whatever reasons. The Capitals had Jason Roy, Chris Woakes, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma and others on their books for the 2020 season. All four, at some stage or another, fell out of contention due to personal decisions or injury. Praveen Dubey became an excellent replacement for fellow leg-spinner Amit Mishra. Nortje, to reiterate, finished among the top wicket-takers after being called up as a replacement for Woakes. The Sunrisers Hyderabad, who reached the playoffs, also showed the merit in having a plan B. They lost Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mitchell Marsh. Jason Holder eventually came into the XI for Marsh, and existing squad member Sandeep Sharma was effectively elevated to attack leader in the absence of Kumar. Both moves worked well, with the ball, in particular, showing that a Hyderabad outfit laden with international batting talents such as David Warner, Kane Williamson and Jonny Bairstow, also had solid bowling resources.
The masterminds on the bench
The tactical prowess on the go behind the scenes can never be underestimated – and teams will do well to know this going into the next IPL. Ricky Ponting and Mahela Jayawardene won’t grab as many headlines and prizes as Rohit, Rabada and others. Still, the coaches of the Delhi Capitals and Mumbai Indians deserve plenty of credit. They were the ones, in no small extent, implementing the game plans and tactics off the field for the players to execute on it. This, of course, was based on their wealth of experience as players during prolific Test, ODI and T20I careers. Ponting and Jayawardene captained Australia and Sri Lanka, respectively, and this leadership nous shone through in their coaching capacities, too.