The much-awaited Indian Premier League might not be starting on time due to some unforeseen circumstances but just about every cricket fan would be wishing that the tournament begins soon enough.
Until that happens though, let us get ready for the 13th season of the IPL by looking back at the 2019 edition which was eventually won by Mumbai Indians. The champions had a pretty well-rounded squad but it was their star-studded bowling attack that helped them lift their fourth title.
Also see – MI squad
Chennai Super Kings, who finished as the runners-up, went within touching distance of lifting their fourth title because of an experienced bowling unit. Experts and pundits don't mean it for fun when they say, 'Batsmen win you matches, bowlers win you tournaments'.
Like every other year, the quality of the various bowling attacks will be in the spotlight once again and the one which performs to its best will have a better chance of winning the prestigious IPL trophy.
Without wasting much time, let us look at how the eight franchises fared in the 2019 IPL season. Here is the list:
Note: The statistics pertain to the league phase of the tournament only
#8 Kolkata Knight Riders
Matches - 14 | Runs conceded - 2419 | Wickets taken - 56 | Runs per wicket - 43.19 | Runs per over - 9.08 |
Leading Wicket-taker: Andre Russell: 11 wickets in 14 matches
The weakest bowling attack by some distance, Kolkata Knight Riders had a forgettable year, especially when it came to pace bowling. Their woes are highlighted by the fact that none of KKR's bowlers maintained an economy rate of under seven runs per over, while Andre Russell turned out to the team's leading wicket-taker with just 11 scalps.
While the whole bowling attack was off-colour for the majority of the season, Prasidh Krishna and Kuldeep Yadav, in particular, were found to be huge weak links as they managed to pick up only four wickets each while leaking runs at the same time.
On the whole, KKR only managed to pick up a mere 56 wickets through the league phase while conceding runs at a rate of 9.08 per over.
#7 Royal Challengers Bangalore
Matches - 14 | Runs conceded - 2307 | Wickets taken - 69 | Runs per wicket - 33.43 | Runs per over - 8.94 | 4-wicket hauls - 1
Leading Wicket-taker: Yuzvendra Chahal: 18 wickets in 14 matches
Over the last few seasons, it has become a common theme to see Royal Challengers Bangalore struggling with their bowling attack despite constant overhauls. Despite possessing a star-studded batting line-up, RCB have struggled to challenge for the title on a consistent basis because of bowlers who have struggled to control runs at the M.Chinnaswamy Stadium.
The side's lead bowler, Yuzvendra Chahal, went on to have a terrific season once again but his team-mates struggled in most games. Although emerging fast bowler Navdeep Saini did well to pick up 11 wickets, it still wasn't enough to keep the team afloat.
Indian seamers, Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Siraj, along with Kiwi bowler Tim Southee, all struggled in terms of both wickets and maintaining a healthy economy rate. The trio managed to pick up a combined total of 16 wickets at an economy rate of more than 10 runs per over.
Although off-spinner Moeen Ali did well as an extra bowling option, one got the feeling that Washington Sundar was poorly utilised as the youngster only managed to get three games.
#6 Rajasthan Royals
Matches - 14 | Runs conceded - 2254 | Wickets taken - 72 | Runs per wicket - 31.30 | Runs per over - 8.89 |
Leading Wicket-taker: Shreyas Gopal: 20 wickets in 14 matches
Much like the Royal Challengers Bangalore, Rajasthan Royals also suffered from the fact that only one or two of their bowlers stood up last year. Leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal, who had an outstanding season which saw him pick up 20 scalps, found some great support in the form of Jofra Archer, who kept things tight at both ends of an inning.
However, Archer lacked support from the other end as two experienced Indian seamers in the form of Jaydev Unadkat and Dhawal Kulkarni were way off their best.
It didn't help Rajasthan one bit when Archer also had to leave the team even before the play-offs to join the English national team. Furthermore, the 2008 IPL champions didn't have any back-up plan for Krishnappa Gowtham, who couldn't replicate his 2018 IPL performances.
All said and done, Unadkat would have been the biggest disappointment given that he had been signed for a massive ₹8.40 Crore following a poor IPL 11 season. Unadkat could only end up with 10 wickets while conceding more than 10 runs per over in the league stage of the competition.
In a very surprising move, Rajasthan decided to trust Unadkat once again by shelling out ₹3 Crore in, the 2020 IPL Auction. It remains to be seen whether the decision turns out to be a good one, although the young duo of Kartik Tyagi and Akash Singh promises good times for RR in the upcoming season.
#5 Kings XI Punjab
Matches - 14 | Runs conceded - 2503 | Wickets taken - 76 | Runs per wicket - 32.93 | Runs per over - 9.05 | 4-Wicket hauls - 1
Leading Wicket-taker: Mohammad Shami: 19 wickets in 14 matches
Unsurprisingly, Kings XI Punjab, who also failed to make the play-offs cap off the bottom half of this list. Skipper Ravichandran Ashwin came up with much better performances than the ones he delivered in his debut season for the side while Mohammad Shami arguably had his best IPL edition with 19 wickets from 14 matches.
Young English all-rounder Sam Curran played a good supporting act but that was about it for Kings XI Punjab.
If one looks at the statistics, KXIP conceded the most number of runs amongst all the eight teams and this became the biggest hurdle for them with respect to playoff qualification. Although Punjab took a respectable 76 wickets across the 14 league matches, they also averaged an unhealthy 32.93 runs per wicket.
While leg-spinner Murugan Ashwin struggled to take wickets while being miserly with his economy rate, Curran proved to be too expensive. Even though they could have done better, the most disappointing performers were Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Andrew Tye, with the duo only combining to pick up six wickets while leaking more than 10 runs per over on a regular basis.
It remains to be seen how KXIP cope with the loss of Ashwin, even though they have made some good additions in the form of Sheldon Cottrell, Chris Jordan and Ravi Bishnoi for the upcoming season.
#4 Sunrisers Hyderabad
Matches - 14 | Runs conceded - 2200 | Wickets taken - 81 | Runs per wicket - 27.16 | Runs per over - 7.92 | 4-Wicket hauls - 1
Leading Wicket-taker: Khaleel Ahmed: 17 wickets in 8 matches
If the duo of David Warner and Jonny Bairstow are to be credited for Sunrisers Hyderabad's qualification for the play-offs, their efficient bowling unit can't be forgotten as they performed creditably in quite a few matches too.
Although lead bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Rashid Khan weren't at their wicket-taking best, their miserly bowling style helped SRH contain a lot of teams efficiently. This helped the 2016 IPL Champions register the second-best economy rate (7.92 runs per over) through the league stage.
After missing the first few matches, seamer Khaleel Ahmed also had a stunning second half of the season by contributing 17 wickets in just eight games. Khaleel provided SRH with some much-needed penetration while Sandeep Sharma also chipped in with decent spells.
For IPL 2020, SRH have not added too many bowling options but they will hope for a better show especially during the death overs. Last season, the team conceded nearly 9.5 runs per over during the 16-20 over phase of an inning during the league stage.
#3 Mumbai Indians
Matches - 14 | Runs conceded - 2282 | Wickets taken - 87 | Runs per wicket - 26.22 | Runs per over - 8.36 | 4-Wicket hauls - 2 | 5-wicket hauls - 1
Leading Wicket-taker: Jasprit Bumrah: 17 wickets in 14 matches
The eventual 2019 IPL Champions Mumbai Indians had a fantastic all-round journey to lifting the title. Apart from scoring the third-most runs by a team, Mumbai were also the third-best bowling unit through the league phase. As expected, star bowler Jasprit Bumrah led the way for Mumbai by picking up 17 wickets at an economy rate of 6.78.
Apart from Bumrah, Mumbai also had the luxury of having bowlers who could deliver at different stages of an inning. While Bumrah and Malinga bowled during the powerplay and death overs, the trio of Krunal Pandya, Hardik Pandya and Rahul Chahar ensured that the middle-overs phase didn't turn out to be wicketless.
While Bumrah performing wasn't surprising at all, the young Chahar used a chance provided by Mayank Markande's untimely injury to make his mark on the IPL stage. The leg-spinner impressed with 10 wickets in 11 matches at an economy rate of 7.17.
Meanwhile, Mumbai also benefitted from some crucial individual performances like Alzarri Joseph's six-wicket haul against SRH and Lasith Malinga's four-wicket haul against CSK.
#2 Chennai Super Kings
Matches - 14 | Runs conceded - 2012 | Wickets taken - 90 | Runs per wicket - 22.35 | Runs per over - 7.49 | 4-Wicket hauls - 2
Leading Wicket-taker: Imran Tahir: 21 wickets in 14 matches
If someone says that Chennai Super Kings were perhaps the best bowling side in IPL 2019, their view cannot be criticised as numbers are certainly in the team's favour. CSK had an unbelievable run to the final and only missed their fourth title by a slender one-run margin.
A lot of their success can be attributed to their strong spin bowling combination and helpful home tracks at Chepauk. CSK built a fortress at Chepauk and went on to win six of their seven home matches.
The 2018 IPL Champions are at the second spot because they only picked up 90 wickets but at the same time, the team's average runs per wicket (22.35) and runs per over (7.49) were the best in the competition.
One look at the individual statistics reveals how Chennai didn't even need regular contributions from their batsmen. While the veteran Imran Tahir led the way with 21 scalps from 14 matches, seamer Deepak Chahar developed rapidly towards the end the league phase with 16 wickets.
Widely regarded as a quality opening bowler, Chahar broadened his skillset under the guidance of MS Dhoni to become a valuable death bowling option by the end of the season too. Apart from these two, the likes of Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh and Dwayne Bravo also proved to be invaluable at home.
#1 Delhi Daredevils
Matches - 14 | Runs conceded - 2238 | Wickets taken - 98 | Runs per wicket - 22.83 | Runs per over - 8.09 | 4-Wicket hauls - 2
Leading Wicket-taker: Kagiso Rabada: 25 wickets in 12 matches
The best bowling unit, at least in terms of the number of wickets, was clearly Delhi Capitals. The youthful and talented unit finally made it to the playoffs by finishing at the third spot in the points table after years of poor performances.
Even though Delhi wasn't one of the best batting sides, their bowling attack led by the world-class Kagiso Rabada definitely delivered for them big time. Apart from picking up the most number of wickets, Delhi also did well on the average runs per wicket (22.83) and average runs per over (8.09) counts.
As mentioned above, Rabada had an unbelievably good season and he played a big part in the wins over KKR and RCB. The South African's super-over display against KKR and Andre Russell was one of the highlights of the season, as he delivered a death bowling masterclass.
Apart from him, bowlers like Amit Mishra, Keemo Paul and Ishant Sharma also performed admirably. If this wasn't enough, all-rounder Chris Morris was also consistent with his wicket-taking ability.