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Analysis

IPL 2023 trends: Indians maximise impact, legspinners back in business

Chasing teams have not yet had a distinct advantage this season, and there have been a lot of no-balls bowled

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
08-Apr-2023
Dhruv Jurel made an immediate impact as an Impact Player  •  BCCI

Dhruv Jurel made an immediate impact as an Impact Player  •  BCCI

With the introduction of Impact Players, teams naming XIs after the toss, and DRS for wides and no-balls, as well as the return to the home-and-away format after three years, here are the standout trends from the first week of matches in IPL 2023.

The Indian flavour to Impact Player rule

Barring Mumbai Indians and Sunrisers Hyderabad, who picked three overseas players in their starting XI and brought in a fourth later in the game, the other sides have largely used Indian players as their Impact Player. This rule has therefore opened the door for several players, who would have otherwise struggled to break into the XI.
Dhruv Jurel was signed by Rajasthan Royals last year but warmed the bench for an entire season because Sanju Samson and Jos Buttler were their designated wicketkeepers. But the Impact Player rule has allowed specialists like him to come into the game at any point. On IPL debut Jurel, 22, displayed some audacious hitting to make an unbeaten 15-ball 32 that nearly helped Royals pull off a heist.
B Sai Sudharsan, just 21 years old, didn't get an opportunity to start in Gujarat Titans' opening game, but an injury to Kane Williamson forced them to bring him in during the chase. His cameo impressed the team management so much that he was slotted into the first XI for their next match. Sai Sudharsan responded with a match-winning 48-ball 62 as Titans, the defending champions, notched up two straight wins to open their campaign.
In an age where his contemporaries are either commentating or playing in one of several leagues that have mushroomed for retired players, Amit Mishra might have found a niche for himself in the IPL at the age of 40. Among the last buys at the end of this year's auction for INR 50 lakh, Mishra was named in Lucknow Super Giants' starting XI when they were bowling first against Sunrisers Hyderabad on a tailor made black-soil pitch at home. He used his bowling smarts superbly in a Player-of-the-Match performance and subbed out as soon as his spell was done.

No chasing advantage so far

Last year, only three of the first ten games were won by the team batting first. Playing across just four venues in Mumbai and Pune, where conditions were largely similar, had teams following a largely similar 'win toss and chase' mantra.
This year, six of the first ten games have been won by the team batting first. This is the first season since 2019 to be played in the regular home-and-away format, and teams are playing to their strengths at home.
The Super Giants, for example, have prepared different surfaces in Lucknow, to be used depending on the opposition. Against Capitals minus Anrich Nortje, they unleashed Mark Wood on a fast, bouncy red-soil deck and he responded with a five-wicket haul to rout the chase. Against Sunrisers, whose line-up was full of right-handers, they used their spin trio of Krunal Pandya, Mishra and Ravi Bishnoi to point-precision on a black-soil deck that turned and stopped. They picked up 6 for 57 between them in 12 overs.

Legspinners back in business

Yuzvendra Chahal took a four-wicket haul in his first game to subdue the Sunrisers. Karn Sharma has made the most of his chances in Wanindu Hasaranga's absence for RCB. Varun Chakravarthy, out to rediscover the form that made him an IPL sensation two years ago, brought out his trademark ripping googlies and carrom balls to stun RCB.
Rashid Khan has continued to do Rashid Khan things, with teams now needing to take chances against him too because he's got a formidable Titans pace attack to back him up.
Suyash Sharma, lost in the mire that is Delhi cricket, was so unknown that even Nitish Rana, who comes from the same region, hadn't heard of him until he joined the Knight Riders camp. On debut, Suyash, nerveless and confident for a 19-year-old, made a splash after coming in as an Impact Player.
Overall, this is the most impact legspinners have had in the first ten games of a season over the past three years. They have picked up 33 wickets at an average of 14.4 and an economy of 7.00.

The no-ball problem

More no-balls have been bowled after ten games this season than at the same stage in any other IPL season. In fact, far fewer no-balls were bowled across three seasons combined (2012-2014) than this one so far. It has certainly frustrated an otherwise calm MS Dhoni. "We are bowling too many extra deliveries," he said after the 12-run win at Chepauk against Super Giants, and even mock-threatened his bowlers that "they will have to be ready to play under a new captain".

The spin surprise at the death

Spinners have not only taken more wickets in the death overs (overs 17-20) of the first innings this season, but have also had the best economy as compared to their performance after ten games in the previous two seasons.
This year, spinners have taken six wickets in the eight overs they've bowled at an economy of 7.40. The corresponding numbers for 2022 are: one wicket in three overs at an economy of 7.70. In 2021, spinners picked up four wickets in four overs at an economy of 9.00.
With inputs from Shiva Jayaraman

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo