The Power Rankings - Episode 4

How teams stack up given their results so far, their pace & spin bowling, and their upcoming schedules

The Power Rankings - Episode 4

This post is brought to you by Cricket8. We’ll be writing there throughout the IPL. Plus, there are podcasts and live watchalongs.

Welcome to the power list. Forget the points table. We’re digging through the trash of your favourite teams to see what the hell is really going on, including pitch conditions, the strength of the schedule, and where the games are. Then I just decided to hate your team for no reason. 

This week we are also looking at how well your team's pacers and spinners go. 

1.  Rajasthan Royals

Recent record: 1-0, W @KKR

RR pulled off an incredible win against the Knight Riders. Jos Buttler’s ‘take it deep’ approach worked very well as he was supported by impactful cameos from Riyan Parag and Rovman Powell. Although KKR took on their bowling attack, they were able to stop the flow of runs in the first and last four overs of the innings.

Pace bowling: The best

They have one of the best new ball bowlers in the league in Trent Boult, who has taken 5 wickets in 19 overs at an economy of 6.37. Nandre Burger has also taken early wickets, but he’s gone for a few in this phase. Kuldeep Sen has taken wickets in the middle overs, especially right after the field restrictions are over. Avesh Khan has bowled very well at the death, going at less than 10 runs per over in the highest-scoring season ever in the league. Sandeep Sharma also started off well in a new role, but has not been available since the first two matches. Burger has also been unavailable, but Kumar Sangakkara has confirmed that they will return soon.

Spin bowling: Above par

They have arguably two of the best Indian spinners in the league in Yuzi Chahal and R Ashwin. Chahal has been taking wickets and not conceding a lot of runs in the middle overs, while also bowling a few in the slog overs. Ashwin does give them flexibility as an all-phase option, but he has only taken 1 wicket this season and gone at slightly above 9 runs per over. They also have Keshav Maharaj in their ranks, so they can field a spin trio with variety if needed.

Upcoming fixtures: v MI, @LSG, @SRH

If Rajasthan go 2-1 in these three matches, they will almost be guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. But anything less than a top two finish would be disappointing with the talent at their disposal. 

2. Sunrisers Hyderabad

Recent record: 2-0, W @RCB & W @DC

SRH really seem to be on a mission to break the 300 barrier. The left-handed opener duo of Travis Head and Abhishek Sharma have scored at a ridiculous run rate. Heinrich Klaasen also played a terrific knock against RCB. Abdul Samad, Shahbaz Ahmed and Nitish Reddy also played useful cameos in these two matches. Their bowling pulled it back well against Delhi, restricting them to 199 all-out after they were 109/2 in just 6.5 overs.

Pace bowling: Under par

Pat Cummins has been exceptional, and is probably having his best IPL season. T Natarajan has also been impressive, especially considering he bowls most of his overs in the latter half of the innings. You would expect a lot more wickets from Bhuvi, who has kept it tight with the new ball and taken a few wickets. However, he has been taken to the cleaners at the death. Jaydev Unadkat has gone at more than 11 runs per over. Nitish Reddy has shown some promise as an all-round option in a couple of matches, but there is still a long way to go.

Spin bowling: Terrible

Mayank Markande is their lead spinner, and he’s taken 5 wickets at 11.24 runs per over. Shahbaz Ahmed has an economy of 12.44, while Washington Sundar has conceded 73 in just five overs. None of their options have really been able to work. Of course, Hasaranga never made it to the big dance.

Upcoming fixtures: v RCB, @CSK, v RR

We know that SRH are a batting-heavy team. They now play two games at home, and have two tricky games here. If they can defeat RCB again and split the tricky games, they will be 7-3 which is a solid position to be in.

3. Chennai Super Kings

Recent record: 0-1, L @LSG

CSK ended up with a respectable total after MS Dhoni’s late flourish. Ravi Jadeja was sent up the order, and he did alright. Ajinkya Rahane scored some quick runs at the top, while Moeen also picked up towards the end after a slow start. However, the Lucknow crowd got exactly what they wanted – a Dhoni special and a win for the home team. CSK could only take a couple of wickets, and they did not pose a threat for the hosts.

Pace bowling: Very high

They are not taking new ball wickets, but they more than make up for it after the field restrictions are over. Matheesha Pathirana has been the standout, and only Jasprit Bumrah has been less economical than him among all pacers this season. Tushar Deshpande has been a revelation. The man took wickets but at a very high economy rate last season. This year so far, he has conceded only 8.3 runs per over as an all-phase option. Mustafizur has taken 11 wickets at an economy of 9.42, which is good considering he bowls almost half his overs at the death. If Chahar can take more early wickets, they will be in a very good position. 

Spin bowling: Par

Their spinners do not concede a lot of runs, but they lack a strike bowling spinner. Maheesh Theekshana would have to work to make that happen, because Jadeja is very good as a defensive option. They need to figure out if they want to play Santner, but he also spins it the same way as Jadeja. If Moeen Ali plays, he can be a useful matchup option. However, they probably don’t need to worry much about their spinners because of their upcoming schedule.

Upcoming fixtures: v LSG, v SRH, v PBKS

Chennai have won all three games at home so far, and will now play three in a row there. But their fixtures against LSG and SRH will not be that easy. Lucknow defeated them in the last game, and Hyderabad have played a brand of cricket that is scary if you are an opposition bowler.

4. Kolkata Knight Riders

Recent record: 1-1, L v RR & W v RCB

KKR could have won and lost both these matches considering how close they were, so they should take a 1-1 split. Their batting has been excellent in both matches, despite a few of their batters not yet firing as well as they can.

Pace bowling: Mixed feelings

Mitchell Starc has been way off the mark, conceding almost 11 and a half runs per over for his six wickets. Harshit Rana has proved to be one of the best uncapped Indian pacers of the tournament, and he has been exceptional because he has bowled some very difficult overs. Andre Russell has also changed games with the ball, especially both the matches against RCB. Vaibhav Arora has also been a wicket-taker, but it is unlikely that both him and Rana play unless the conditions demand otherwise.

Spin bowling: Above par

Sunil Narine is still doing it – taking wickets consistently while teams are unable to score quickly off him. Varun Chakravarthy has also been among the wickets, but his economy rate is on the slightly higher side.

Upcoming fixtures: v PBKS, v DC, @MI

They have two home games against relatively weaker teams, and they will play MI away. If they can end up 3-0 in these matches, their playoffs spot will be almost confirmed. 

5. Lucknow Super Giants

Recent record: 1-0, W v CSK

Lucknow’s bowling in the middle overs was one of the major reasons why they were able to limit CSK to a total within reach. KL Rahul and Quinton de Kock knocked the target off with a massive opening pair, and Nicholas Pooran finished it without any further hiccups. 

Pace bowling: Above par

Mohsin Khan has been a threat with the new ball, and if Matt Henry clicks it could be a solid combination at the top. A fit Mayank Yadav takes their pace attack to the next level. He was used as a middle-overs enforcer. Naveen-ul-Haq did a decent job in the middle and death overs, but only one of him or Henry can fit in the team. Yash Thakur has the most wickets by an LSG pacer, but five of those eight wickets came against GT. Apart from that, he has not been as good. They have also tried Arshad Khan, but he has been expensive in both matches.

Spin bowling: Par

Krunal Pandya has had a very good season – 5 wickets at an econ of 7.42 – as a defensive spinner, but you would expect better returns from Ravi Bishnoi – 5 wickets at an econ of 8.38 – who is supposed to be a wicket-taker. Manimaran Siddharth did a decent job at keeping the scoring rate under control in two of the three matches. 

Upcoming fixtures: @CSK, v RR, v MI

CSK away will probably be their trickiest match, but the fact that they just defeated them should help. Even if they lose at Chepauk and win both their home games, they will be 6-4 after 10 matches which is a decent situation to be in.

6. Gujarat Titans

Recent record: 1-1, L v DC & W @PBKS

Gujarat had a disappointing outing at home against Delhi, but they won an away game against Punjab. They probably took it a bit too deep, but these two points will be very crucial for them.

Pace bowling: Below par

The absence of Mohammed Shami has been felt. He was an elite wicket taker with the new ball, which is something they have failed to replicate this year. Mohit Sharma has kept a lid on the scoring rate through the middle overs, and has been alright in the death overs. The rest of their quicks have not had much of a positive impact.

Spin bowling: Almost elite

They have one of the most valuable T20 players in the world in Rashid Khan, who also happens to be decent at bowling spin. With the left-arm wrist-spin of Noor Ahmad and left-arm finger-spin of Sai Kishore, they actually have the ability to take wickets and keep the opposition batters in check with this spin attack.

Upcoming fixtures: @DC, v RCB, @RCB

Luckily, they have a relatively easy schedule in the coming days. RCB have been the worst team in the tournament, so winning against them should not be a big challenge. DC did defeat them comfortably the last time around, but they are also a flawed team as their overall win-loss record suggests. If they win two of these three matches, they will be 6-5 with three games in hand.

7. Mumbai Indians

Recent record: 1-0, W @PBKS

MI did an impressive job with the bat and looked on course for a big win after reducing Punjab to 14/4. However, Ashutosh Sharma and Shashank Singh brought the hosts right back in the match. Jasprit Bumrah was simply outstanding, and Gerald Coetzee was also very effective.

Pace bowling: Above par

Honestly, they should thank Bumrah for getting them to an above par rating. He is probably in the middle of having one of the best IPL seasons by any player. Coetzee has been a very good strike bowler, but we know he can be expensive. Akash Madhwal had a much better season last time. Among many other things, Hardik Pandya has also been far from his best as a pacer. Their other options are not very impressive. Should they probably consider playing Nuwan Thushara instead of Mohammed Nabi?

Spin bowling: Awful

MI probably have the least threatening spin attack in the league. And that is saying something, when there are teams like RCB & SRH. They have taken only five wickets in seven matches. ONLY FIVE, let that sink in. Shreyas Gopal or Piyush Chawla should not be your main spinner going into an IPL season in 2024. Nabi has not gone for runs, but he has not picked up wickets either. 

Upcoming fixtures: @RR, @DC, @LSG

They now play their next three matches on the road. None of these games will be very easy, but they ideally need to win all three to be in a more comfortable position. 2-1 will also keep them afloat. 

8. Punjab Kings

Recent record: 0-2, L v MI & L v GT

Once again, they have lost two close matches. Their lower-order batters put up a commendable performance against MI after being 14/4. Against GT, Prabhsimran Singh and Harpreet Brar played useful cameos, but that was not enough. 

Pace bowling: Very good

Arshdeep Singh, Kagiso Rabada & Sam Curran have all bowled in the Powerplay. Harshal Patel has been the main man through the middle overs, while the other three have also bowled in that phase at various points. They have also used Harshal the most at the death, but he’s conceded a few. Curran has been their most effective bowler in the final four overs.

Spin bowling: Not good enough

Harpreet Brar has had a very good season, taking  4 wickets at an economy rate of 7.4. However, those are not the numbers of a strike-bowling option. If he is paired with a wicket-taking spinner, they could be more of a threat. Liam Livingstone is a handy matchup spinner because he can turn it both ways, but he should not be a frontline option either.

Upcoming fixtures: @KKR, @CSK, v CSK

Mathematically, they are not yet out of the race for a playoff spot. However, their upcoming fixtures are against two teams that have a positive win-loss record this season. They play their next two home games ( v CSK & RCB) in Dharamsala.

9. Delhi Capitals

Recent record: 1-1, W @GT & L v SRH

Delhi Capitals put up a dominant performance against GT and seemed to be in with an outside chance to chase down a record score against SRH when Fraser-McGurk was smashing it everywhere. However, Rishabh Pant (and even Tristan Stubbs) just failed to get going.

Pace bowling: Awful

Apart from Khaleel Ahmed in the powerplay, none of their pacers has been a standout in any phase of the innings. They are at their absolute worst in the final four overs, especially Anrich Nortje who has been taken to the cleaners by several batters this season.

Spin bowling: Elite

The spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel have been brilliant. Kuldeep is a wicket-taking threat, while it is very difficult to score off Axar. Despite the fact that they have played in some very high-scoring fixtures, the two have managed to be a consistent attacking and defensive threat.

Upcoming fixtures: v GT, v MI, @KKR

They are still not out of the tournament. But they need to put together a bunch of wins to stay afloat in the competition. The fact that they won against GT the last time should give them an advantage. KKR away will be their main challenge.

10. Royal Challengers Bengaluru

Recent record: 0-1, L @KKR

This was RCB’s closest loss of the season. Rajat Patidar and Will Jacks put them in a position from where they should have been able to win the game with a more measured approach. However, the 12 & 13th over where they lost four wickets – two each to Russell and Narine is when their chase was derailed. 

Pace bowling: The worst

It’s not that they lack pace bowling talent within their ranks. However, none of their quicks have been in any semblance of form this season. The fact that they have been unable to strike the right balance also does not really help their cause. They have picked up only 27 wickets at an average of 46.6 and an economy rate of 10.9.

Spin bowling: Lower than low

They had Yuzvendra Chahal in 2021, Wanindu Hasaranga in 2022 & 23. They now have Karn Sharma and Mayank Dagar as their frontline spinners. Glenn Maxwell has actually been their most effective spin bowler, which is not really the sign of a well-constructed team.

Upcoming fixtures: @SRH, @GT, v GT

Can even a calculator help RCB fans anymore? Their batting has actually fared well in the last couple of matches despite their openers not playing that long. They would hope to carry forward this newfound intent with the bat and play with freedom for the rest of the season.