While the shifting of the Indian T20 League from India to UAE was a huge relief for both cricketers and cricket fans after months of inaction, the experts had wasted no time in celebrations. They were rather busy equating how different the tournament was going to be outside India.
After a huge auction saw the teams brainstorming to get the right combinations in 2019, the sudden change in venue had turned the table upside down making the tournament more a mind-based contest than talent.
As the Indian T20 League approaches the playoffs, we look at the side who figured it all out way before the competition had started.
Being a work-in-progress project last season, Delhi were always going to come back stronger this time, but their current extent of performance was hardly expected. But a shrewd Ricky Ponting had figured it out months back and their effective bowling attack is a product of the same. UAE pitches were always suitable for fast bowlers and Delhi’s decision to stick with Marcus Stoinis as one of their main wicket-takers, even when they were experimenting with their combinations early on, has worked wonders. They didn’t hesitate in sustaining the pair of Anrich Nortje with Kagiso Rabada and giving a long rope to an inexperienced Tushar Deshpande, even when they went for runs. Hence, their title contention should not be surprising anyone.
The four-time title winners boast of one of the best think tanks in world cricket and the prospect of playing the tournament outside India was like a mouth-watering challenge for them. And they should be credited for resisting the temptation of using Chris Lynn despite the Australian being fit for the contest. Mumbai needed firepower with the ball, and their decision to stick with James Pattinson despite having Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah as pace options is what has been the difference. The pace bowling trio has scalped a whopping 44 wickets together in the first 11 matches, to make Mumbai serious title-contenders yet again this season.
While Bangalore have also turned things around this season, Punjab have shown quick thinking to marvellously change the direction of their campaign that looked destined for failure. Punjab had a proven and consistent wicket-taker in Mohammed Shami but the management was hesitant about providing Chris Jordan more chances after the player endured a shaky start. They rectified their mistakes mid-season as fans saw an unlikely pace trio of Shami, Jordan and Arshdeep Singh spitting fire at opponents. Though batting was hardly an issue for Punjab, their ability to finish off games had cost them numerous matches and the gamble to bring in Chris Gayle has plugged that gap as well. Punjab have won six matches on the trot and with all their guns firing, KL Rahul has seemingly figured it all out now.
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