The way too soon IPL Power Rankings

First edition

It is time again for our IPL Power Rankings, where we take a look at what has happened so far, and then use that information to make a way too early judgement call on some teams. Although in the case of Delhi, probably a fairly accurate one.

But being that most of the league is 2 wins and one loss, it’s even more of a mess than usual. But we won’t let that stop us.

Some things are always worth remembering on the power rankings. This is not a points table. We already have one. We are looking beyond the points to look at how close the matches were, who the opposition was, whether it was home or away and whether we buy what the results tell us.

As always, all power lists are completely correct, and cannot be argued with.

1- RR

I love how they look, but this is a cruisey start. I’m giving them a boost based on last year. But The Royals are currently the best team in the first 6 overs. They have scored 204 runs in 3 innings at an average of 51 and a strike rate of 188.9. Only Chennai have a better strike rate. The opening duo of Buttler and Jaiswal has been fearless. Their mantra to success has been pretty simple - finding the gaps and playing good cricketing shots while the field restrictions are on.

Trent Boult is arguably the most impactful Powerplay bowler in the competition at the moment - 4 wickets in 7 overs. He has got the new ball to talk and produce some unplayable jaffas for the opposition batters.

After getting good starts in the Powerplay, they have been unable to sustain it in the following 10 overs. They rank 4th on batting strike rate in this phase. Riyan Parag and Devdutt Padikkal’s performances have been concerning. Shimron Hetmyer has been really good, carrying on from last year.

They have three tough games coming up, two on the road, and one at home. If they can win 2-1 in this run they set up their entire season.

2 - LSG

Mark Wood is currently in the form of his life in T20s. His express pace was too hot to handle for the Delhi Capitals' top order. He went for runs against Chennai but he was yet again amongst the wickets. The most interesting aspect of his game is that he can be used as a favourable matchup at any stage of the game.

Lucknow had a very Chepauk-type wicket in their first home game ever. They have quality spinners in Ravi Bishnoi, Amit Mishra (yes, he’s still at it!!) and Krunal Pandya. LSG might actually be able to pull off a fortress at home. Their batters are good enough for 120-140 par games, and KL Rahul’s anchoring skills could prove to be valuable here.

Kyle Mayers has had a dream start to his IPL career. His exploits in the Powerplay have helped relieve the pressure off the other batters. LSG need to be a bit wiser in their usage of Nicholas Pooran. Delaying his entry points from the middle overs might not get the best results out of him. While he has done well as a death overs batter in these games, he is predominantly a spin hitter in the middle overs.

Two road games coming up, a 2-1 split would be ideal, 1-2 is probably not the end of the world. I think for them though they want to know they can beat the better teams.

3 - GT

Gujarat has one of the best bowling attacks in the competition. 12 overs of Shami, Rashid and Joseph in each game have given no breathing space to the opposition. Add Hardik Pandya to the mix, and they have plenty of options depending upon the match situation.

Gujarat has the best batting average by any team in the competition till now. And they’ve also managed to do it at a good run rate. It has been a collective effort from Sudharshan, Shankar and Gill. Miller finished off a game, and we haven’t even had a contribution from Hardik Pandya yet.

Josh Little was one of the best bowlers in the T20 World Cup last year. He is also the first Irish player to play in the IPL. However, these conditions are still new for the left-arm seamer. GT will hope that he gets them some early breakthroughs in the upcoming games and make their Powerplay bowling even more potent.

Despite the quality of the opposition, they should be able to win at least one of the two home games given their current form. Rajasthan away will be one of the most challenging games in this run. If they go 2-1 again and maintain a solid NRR, they will be on track for another playoff spot.

4 - CSK

Ruturaj has had an incredible start. It probably wouldn’t be a stretch to say that he’s looking even better than he did in 2021. His improved intent in the powerplay has been a massive plus point for the Super Kings. However, he has carried their batting. No other player has scored even half the runs, which might be a concern for them in the upcoming games in case he fails to deliver.

Mitchell Santner has been one of the best left-arm finger spinners in the world in white ball cricket for quite some time. Ravi Jadeja is a seasoned campaigner, and will almost always get the job in the middle overs. Moeen is a proper wicket-taker on his day in T20s - striking at 20.34 balls per dismissal in his IPL career. When you factor in that they all can bat, it really makes a strong core of spin-bowling all-rounders. And Theekshana hasn’t even played yet. Will they consider him over Santner? That will be an interesting selection.

Are they better off without Stokes? This might be an uncomfortable conversation, given we are talking about a player of that stature and price tag. But if he does not bowl, that’s one skill less. And it is quite tough to slot him as an opener - his most effective in this setup. Perhaps an overseas core of Conway, Moeen, Pretrious and one of Santner or Theekshana might be best suited for the team.

Two home games will definitely be an advantage for the Super Kings. But they can’t underestimate Rajasthan, who have quality spinners. RCB away can go either way - toss might play a crucial role here.

5 - KKR

KKR have been bailed out by their lower middle order in all 3 matches. Rinku Singh pulled off the craziest win you’d ever imagine against the defending champs Gujarat Titans. Against RCB, Shardul Thakur and Rinku Singh scored a quick-fire 68 off just 27 balls and took the team from 89/5 to 11.3 overs to 204/7 at the end of the innings. Even in the first game vs PBKS, they were just 7 runs short on DLS despite a top-order collapse.

Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy showed us what they’re capable of against Bangalore. Although they are yet to perform at their best, it will be an absolute menace for the batters to face this duo on spin-friendly wickets.

KKR have had different opening partners for Gurbaz in all 3 matches - Jagadeeshan, Venkatesh Iyer and Mandeep Singh - all of whom were dismissed early. We are aware of their top-order issues against quality pacers. The absence of a solid anchor-base batter in Shreyas Iyer has been truly felt this season.

They are not going to get a better three-game stretch than this. Home v SRH, and then away versus the two worst teams. They should push for three wins here because 5 wins is not far away from a guaranteed finals spot.

6 - PBKS

You could convince me that the Kings should be higher, or even lower. They are the last of our 2-1 sides. But their form is all over the place. They won a DLS game against KKR, but I think that match holds up. They beat the Royals in a close one but lost to the Sunrisers. It’s a mixed bag. My biggest concern right now is that Dhawan has three times the runs of their next-best player. Chances are he won’t average 200 with a strike rate of 150 for the tournament.

Arshdeep has six wickets in three matches. This is not what his entire career has shown us he will normally do. He usually takes around the average amount of wickets. But this is the new super Arshdeep, so they should be hopeful that he can maintain at least a decent wicket rate going forward.

Nathan Ellis probably should have played for Australia in the last World Cup. His slower balls get an incredible dip, and he’s a smart cricketer. He’s taken a few wickets too, though his econ is high so far. And the only batter to score over 80 runs that isn’t Dhawan is Prab-sim-ran. That he has done that while striking at 170 is fun. Nothing in his record to suggest that the strike rate holds, but he’s showing something.

Tough teams, but two at home. Because they are 2-1, a 1-2 doesn’t kill them. But if they can get 2-1, especially winning the home games, it’s very handy. Based on the opposition, there is a chance of 1-2, or even 0-3 if Dhawan doesn’t make runs.

7 - RCB

What to do with a team who have only played two matches, were smashed in the face in one and did the same to their opponent in the other? You could argue they should be above Kings or below. What you can’t argue is that Faf is hitting the ball. We are doing a video on him as a T20 player, and it’s fascinating. But this year he playing like he never has before.

Their bowlers have been terrible in the second half of innings. A team with Harshal, Siraj and Topley - albeit only one game - should be better than that. So I am not overly concerned yet. Harshal won’t go at 2 runs a ball all year unless he’s injured.

Obviously, there are four pretty good batters around RCB. But after that, it’s a worry, right? There feels like a drop-off that means that if one or two of their top players do have off years, or even mediocre ones, it will be tough.

The home swing. Two tougher teams and whatever Delhi currently is. 2-1 gets them 3-2 overall. That is fine.

8 - SRH

They were not even in their first two games, but they played well in the third. So it hasn’t been good. And the captain of the struggle is Harry Brook who hasn’t gone past 13 yet. It’s way too early to worry, and there are others making runs. But they invested a lot in him, and it’ll be interesting to see how he fights back.

If Brook is a concern, then Mayank Agarwal is a big problem. He was bad last year and has started the same way. They were betting on a bounceback. Another year of him averaging under 20 and doing it slowly kills them.

All their Indian bowlers have struggled so far. And being that is Natarajan, Umran and Bhuvi, it’s a lot of expensive options not firing. So Marco Jansen on the side and doing well is something they desperately needed. Last year their biggest problem was all their bowlers ran hot or cold at the same time. Not ideal.

Mumbai at home is fun, but they go up against two teams with some interesting spin who will make their wickets turn even more. Interesting to see their batting and Rashid in this. If we assume they beat Mumbai, then they either split the other two, or they have to play catch up.

9 - MI

50 crores to Rohit, Green and Ishan, and so far, it has not worked. Green still seems like a long-term plan, Ishan’s last great year was 2020, and his only true star turn. Eight years in, this is a huge price and a huge year for him. Rohit is Rohit. It’s a lot of money for this year that may not come back.

They have Kartikeya and Chawla. It never looked ideal coming in. Neither have bowled poorly, but look at some of the other spin lineups and you wonder what the ceiling is.

What do you do with a player who was the best in the world last year and suddenly has a string of low scores? Remember all those golden ducks a while back? I back him to come good. But with short seasons, the question is always whether will it be soon enough.

Their next game is almost an early season elimination. Whoever loses it is almost playing for next year already. But this is a good run for Mumbai, two poorer teams on the road and a home game. A 2-1 split at least gives them a chance to breathe.

10 - DC

Remember in 2021 when David Warner turned up to the IPL and batted incredibly slowly and kept getting run out? His franchise probably made an error in sacking him. Well, Delhi are now staring at something similar. Last year he struck at 149, so I wouldn’t be too concerned. However, it’s not ideal.

Kuldeep Yadav is the only bowler at the moment with a record that isn’t stinking. That is how you end up with a record like this, you can always carry a struggling bowler or two. But four of them, no. Rovman and Mitch have already bowled more than anyone expected.

The biggest issue is not that they have been losing, it’s that they haven’t been in a game. They have one batter making runs, and he’s going slow, They have one bowler doing well. This is as bad a start as you can have.

The Mumbai game at home is something they desperately need. It could not come at a better time. Then they are at RCB, who in their current form are not the worst. And a home game against KKR. The chances of going 3-0 and getting to .500 are pretty low. But 2-1 is enough to give them a heartbeat. 1-2 and the season is almost officially over.