IPL 2013 review May 27, 2013

Home comforts, and local leaders

The season is more likely to be remembered for the off-field drama, but there were several cricketing talking points as well

Home, sweet home
In Test cricket, the contrast between teams' record in familiar home conditions and their record away is stark. In the IPL till this season, there was only a bit of a difference between teams' home and away record. In 2013, though, IPL teams were succeeding so often at home - the win-loss record was twice more than all other seasons - that it stirred a debate mid-season over whether away wins should be awarded an extra point. Both Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals swept all eight matches at home; one highlight of the home advantage was Royals using a bouncy track and an all-pace attack to outwit Kolkata Knight Riders, who play most often on a slow, low track at Eden Gardens. Royal Challengers Bangalore's headlining trio - Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers - made the most of perhaps the flattest surface in the country, at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, to ensure there was only one defeat in Bangalore. Sunrisers Hyderabad, one of the teams with the least batting firepower, had pitches that assisted their top-quality bowling attack, allowing the team to regularly defend low scores on their way to seven wins at home. Partly this was due to players having got accustomed to the conditions over three years, an advantage which could be lost when the teams are shuffled ahead of next season.

The pitfalls of foreign captains
If the captain is supposed to be the person around whom the franchise is built, foreign players seem to be a bad choice, as Adam Gilchrist, Kumar Sangakkara, Ricky Ponting and Angelo Mathews proved. Besides poor form, there's the possibility of them not being available for the entire season due to international commitments. The pool of players available to be the face of the team has shrunk further as Rahul Dravid is uncertain for the next season, Sachin Tendulkar has retired, and Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh were not leading this year. All of which means most franchises will have to splash big money for the few viable candidates likely to be available for auction, more so as most suitable Indian choices - MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina - will likely be kept by their current franchise (though the retention policy is yet to be determined).

Fielding mixed bag
Many IPL fans will remember Ricky Ponting's supremely athletic diving, one-handed catch against Delhi Daredevils early this season. Far fewer will remember Lasith Malinga putting down a more straightforward chance at short fine leg two balls later. It encapsulated the fielding standards in the IPL - some were spectacular made-for-promos efforts, while others were nearly amateurish. That has been the case for most seasons now, with a particularly vast gulf between the standards of the Indian domestic players and those of the overseas pros. Given that, it was heartening to see that the official catch of the season award went to the unheralded Kings XI Punjab youngster, Gurkeerat Singh.

No panic batting
In the early years of Twenty20, batsmen felt the need to attack virtually every ball, and teams turned to jelly when the asking rate hits double digits. No more, as several teams gleefully discarded the age-old concept of the best batsmen facing the most number of balls. Rajasthan Royals often held back Shane Watson for later in the innings, or trusted Brad Hodge to get 50 in the final five, while David Miller routinely walked out below little-knowns like Manan Vohra.

Chennai Super Kings' preferred strategy was to go at just about a run-a-ball in the first 10 without losing too many wickets, before unleashing the heavy-hitters in the middle order. It worked wonders most times, though it seemed to backfire as MS Dhoni walked out as low as No. 7 in the final, with the match seemingly lost.

Hapless umpiring
As with wicketkeepers, umpires are said to have a good day when they don't draw undue attention to themselves. This IPL season, though, the umpires were frequently in the spotlight, for all the wrong reasons, even before Asad Rauf was pulled from the Champions Trophy following media reports that indicated he was under investigation by Mumbai Police. Perhaps for the first time in his career, Rahul Dravid showed how livid he was with the umpiring after he was given out caught behind though his bat was nowhere near the ball. Dhawal Kulkarni bowled six full tosses in one of the worst final overs of the tournament, but Mumbai Indians still won as a chest-high full toss was somehow deemed valid. "They are not playing run-outs anymore," Adam Gilchrist deadpanned after Michael Hussey was inexplicably given not out even though he looked short of the crease. Those were just a few of the prominent glitches in a tournament where the level of umpiring was consistently below par.

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • subhash on May 28, 2013, 17:28 GMT

    Talking about da xtra points or bonus awarded 2 away wins why dont give a look in deducting points in loss of every home.....doing dis backward teams get advantage and fight back later///////retention policy will b da most discussed thing specially 4 csk after their consistent performances i wud hope every one wil stick with their teams and retain

  • Ashraf on May 28, 2013, 16:01 GMT

    A finisher always has to think what would happen if he gets out at that point of time! It was an open secret that after those early wickets, if someone could win the game for CSK, it was MSD! If he came early and got out, the game was over! So, he wanted some breathing space, and dropped himself down! He sent others before him and hoped that they would be able to string a partnership together! It was not bein selfish! When you're the most important part of the team, making sure that you dont get out is in the interest of the team! People say he comes early only when conditions are good, and hides when its difficult to bat! Then why did Pollard come after rayudu yesterday and in the 18th over in the IPL 3 finals! Bcoz the team tries to use its most important player as effectively as possible! We should understand the role and judge accordingly! MI played really well and deserved to win. If MSD was selfish, he probably would've won the game for CSK yesterday to add to his reputation!

  • Ashok on May 28, 2013, 15:20 GMT

    Sid, While I agree with all the 5 major conclusions you drew from IPL 6, you missed a salient one! SRH showed that in T20, it is the "team spirit" more than the big names that win matches. SRH showed this time & again while using their extremely limited talent in batting to its full. It was just unfortunate that they could not finish off RR after having them down 55 for 5. They were outplayed by Hodge's terrific hitting. The Umpiring was so poor that it justified the use of DRS with 5 challenges per side to balance the scales. In general the fielding was much better than in the previous IPL's. I certainly back Indian Captains as opposed to "disadvantaged Foreign" ones. Several local young talented players came to the fore led by 3 new bowler Sharmas- Mohit, Sandeep & Karan. Samson & Binny were the 2 most promising bats who deserve to be kept in view.It was the most memorable IPL to date despite 3 guys caught with their hands in the till with spot fixing. Well done IPL administrators!

  • Aditya on May 28, 2013, 10:22 GMT

    All the people who are defending MSD here,and rightly so, by saying he did his job whereas it was other batsmen's fault that CSK could not cross the line as they got out playing rash shots. But when the same thing happens with Sachin when he scores a century,the other batsmen around him play carelessly and India loses, people are quick to pounce on him saying he played selflishly,he's NOT A REAL MATCH-WINNER and it's because of him that India lost or some say India loses whenever Sachin scores a century.While Sachin's job,being an opener,is to set up an innings and MSD's to finish it.I'm not in any way trying to compare two great cricketers but just to bring it to everyone's notice that no one can win a match single-handedly without getting support of other team mates.Hopefully people will remember this while they comment about not just these two cricketers but all the others as well and give credit where it's due.

  • Narendran on May 28, 2013, 8:17 GMT

    Umpiring is below par for most of the tournament. But they the administrators say it happens in all formats of cricket. But I feel in T20's the umpiring needs to be more accurate as a single ball can change the face of the game.

  • Dummy4 on May 28, 2013, 7:09 GMT

    If MSD is a proper batsmen, why does he come after Bravo and Jadeja? If someone can bats only in situations without pressure, he wont be a good batsmen. If MSD came before (and if he was able to hold one end), they wouldn't have gone to last few overs with 2-3 wickets. I have seen this many many times that MSD doesnt come to bat if conditions favour bowling, however, he does come much earlier if conditions favour batting.

  • Abhishek on May 28, 2013, 7:00 GMT

    @UGHKHLJLLKKB- Quite true. MSD is a finisher. Asking him to consolidate means the other 6 specialist batsmen are not doing their duty.

  • jai on May 28, 2013, 4:17 GMT

    @ABCDEFGHIJKL MSD came at the right time for MI :) Absolutely happy to see his face expressions in the final two overs... . He thought He was "Neo" , he thinks He is "Neo"... He will think " Neo" will return...hope someone will 'reload' him...:)

    CSK' loss was the fair result for all cricket fans.... Betting-umbrella holder handing over IPL trophy to Betting owner's Team would have been unbearable for all Cricket Fans.. Who knows.. this CSK loss was also scripted to cover the Boss's losses...

  • Amin on May 28, 2013, 2:46 GMT

    MSD did not come at the right time in the final. as the most experience player and a player who can do both take the single and punish the bad balls, he should have come much higher than what he did in the final. his present could have given some calming down to the other batsman who went for the rash shots (sir jadeja) in fact he should have come out when badri was out. this is what he did in the world cup final and it helped alot.