The Indian Premier League 2023 has turned out to be the most hotly contested season in the history of the Twenty20 cricket competition. Much of the thrills owe to the introduction of the impact player rule.
The rule, which allows for a full-fledged substitute for the first time in cricket history, has made the contests more interesting with clever substitutions allowing teams to transform a batter into a bowler or vice-versa. The impact players haven’t always delivered the results, but on several occasions, they have been able to change the course of matches.
Several players, especially the ones who are a bit old like Ambati Rayudu, Amit Mishra, Mohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane are some of the players who have made the most of the impact player rule. It has added depth to Bangalore Royal Challengers bowling as skipper Faf du Plessis, due to rib injury, came in as an impact player while Harshal Patel filled in as the bowler. A masterstroke!
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The impact player rule has also eased the team selection worries a bit easier as each team could fit their best 12 in the list, while picking the right choice, however, was tricky in the initial phase while most of the teams have got their act right after a few games. Initially it was so unnerving that Chennai Super Kings skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said it is up to the coach to handle it during the toss for the IPL 2023 season opener against Gujarat Titans in Ahmedabad.
Several teams are pushing for the final four spots, with the league at the halfway mark. Gulf News looks at five high points, five top performers and five worst of IPL so far.
FIVE HIGH POINTS
FIVE TOP PERFORMERS
The Rajasthan Royals opener has been improving fast, and his first T20 century against the Mumbai Indians came at his home venue in Mumbai. The 21-year-old briefly took over the Orange Cap for the highest run-scorers this season.
The talented batter was discarded from several IPL teams and was not picked by anyone in the auction until the Chennai Super Kings bought the former Indian Test vice-captain for the base price of Rs5 million. That’s cheap, considering his class. Rahane repaid the skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s trust with some stunning knocks. His rich vein of IPL form earned Rahane a recall to the Indian Test team for the World Test Championship final against Australia in June.
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The Barbados left-hander, who could also bowl medium pace, was a relatively unknown commodity in world cricket with just 24 T20 Internationals for West Indies. After Lucknow bought him for the base price of Rs5 million, the West Indian announced his arrival with five half-centuries this season, and he’s been one of the pillars of Lucknow’s success. Mayers has been very effective in the powerplay, giving Lucknow quick starts.
The Punjab left-arm seamer is now back on song after losing his spot in the Indian team. However, the 24-year-old seemed to have ironed out his no-ball issues with a reduced run-up and is one of the best in Indian cricket. His accurate yorkers have made him a death-over specialist.
Bowling has been the Achilles heel of the Royal Challengers Bangalore. That has let them down despite boasting some of the best batters in the world, and they are yet to win the IPL. Siraj was the answer to their bowling woes. He has been so incisive with the new ball that he heads the list of Purple Cap contenders for the top wicket-takers. Siraj’s form has raised the hopes of Bangalore fans, who believe that RCB will finally win the cup this year.
FIVE WORST OF IPL
Insipid bowling and catching
Four-time champions Chennai Super Kings have been guilty of conceding too many extras and spilling plenty of catches. The bowling has been so shoddy that skipper Dhoni even threatened to quit captaincy if the bowlers keep bowling no balls and wides. Young bowlers like Tushar Deshpande, who is leading bowlers’ chart, have not been able to deliver a consistent performance; Deshpande bowled 13 wides and three no-balls during Lucknow’s chase, including an 11-ball over. Several other bowlers were also guilty of bowling waist-high full tosses, overstepping and spraying the ball around for wides. Catching too has been a worry for the CSK, who have dropped far too many, despite having some of the best fielders.
High price and low returns
Ben Stokes is one of the highest-paid cricketers in IPL history. However, the injury-prone England all-rounder has not played for the Chennai Super Kings in the last several games, and his price has become a talking point for CSK fans. Harry Brook, who scored a stunning century, has not been able to perform consistently for the Sunrisers Hyderabad. Cameroon Green, the second-highest-paid player, has had an indifferent season. Sam Curran, with a price tag of Rs185 million, has been the best-performing player among the big buys.
The tearaway Indian pacer, who clocks 150 kmph, has not developed despite the early promise. The fast bowler from Kashmir has conceded too many runs. He needs to sharpen his skills and learn fast, as he could be a big asset to the Indian team.
Rohit Sharma and Ishan Kishan
The openers’ woeful form has not helped the Mumbai Indian, who are at the bottom half of the table. Rohit and Ishan are two of their main batters, and their lack of runs is a worry for Mumbai and India. They are yet to justify the price tags of Rs160 million and 152.5 million. Suryakumar Yadav’s poor form added to Mumbai’s troubles, but he is showing signs of returning to form.
The team with a star cast on the field and in the team management has not been able to translate that into victories. Their woes are manifold. When the top-order batting fires in one game, the lower-order fails. In the next game, it is vice versa. Six losses in eight games have left the Capitals at the bottom of the table, and another defeat will end their hopes this season.