In Part 1 of this article, we had taken a look at the four teams that managed to make it to the play-offs in IPL 2015. Now, we try and analyse the problems and weaknesses inherent in the bottom four teams which kept them away from the limelight this year.
IPL 2015 – The laggards
Kolkata Knight Riders
The champions of last year, KKR, failed to qualify for the play-offs this season. And, for the better part of the season, they failed to find consistent performers from within the team, barring the prodigious Andre Russell. Sunil Narine faced trouble due to his bowling action. Morne Morkel was unceremoniously dropped from the team after a few successful outings. Brad Hogg made an impression, but was not included in the crunch game against RR. Umesh Yadav was on and off the radar, and so was captain Gambhir and his opening partner Robin Uthappa. The batting order saw far too many upheavals. Russell and Yusuf Pathan kept the fireworks going, but found scarcely any support from Manish Pandey and Suryakumar Yadav. Gambhir’s men lost a number of close matches too, and it surely did not help their qualification chances.
Following Kevin Pieterson’s decision not to play in IPL 2015, one always knew SRH would be an unduly top-heavy side. Barring the brilliance of skipper David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan (only occasionally!) at the top, SRH had little to talk about in the rest of the unit. Moises Henriques, however, did make up for the talent deficit in the middle order in the later half of the tournament. Eoin Morgan blew hot and cold. Ravi Bopara was in and out too frequently. The most surprising aspect of SRH’s campaign this year was the repeated shuffling of their bowling unit. Dale Steyn hardly ever got to play three games at a stretch. Trent Boult too was the victim of the same policy. Praveen Kumar was, at best, successful in certain conditions. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, though, was brilliant, and kept his team in the competition with some seriously good bowling in the death overs. However, the absence of a settled team combination, and a weak middle order kept SRH out of the play-offs.
They had a new-look side this year, but their fortunes were unchanged! Delhi Daredevils came into IPL 2015 with a lot of expectations – Yuvraj Singh’s auction price of Rs 16 crore had already publicised the Delhi franchise even before the tournament began. After a few losses to start with, Delhi did show promise in IPL 2015. Their first win came against KXIP, in the third game of this season, when Yuvraj Singh brilliantly anchored DD’s chase of 166 with a classic half century. Hopes of Delhi Daredevils finally getting back to winning ways were at an all-time high after this match. But inconsistencies pegged them back from thereon. JP Duminy kept fighting throughout the tournament, both with the bat and the ball, but his teammates were unable to follow him. Barring the young opener Shreyas Iyer, the Daredevils had no consistent run scorer among them. Yuvraj Singh failed to live up to the popular expectations. Angelo Mathews was moderately successful with the ball at times. Zaheer Khan’s inclusion in the team in the later stages did make a lot of difference, but it was all too late by then.
Kings XI Punjab
After a stunning season last year, Kings XI Punjab’s performance came crashing down to woeful levels in IPL 2015. The team managed just 3 wins in the whole tournament, and was out of the play-offs race very early too. The big guns – Glen Maxwell, George Bailey, Virender Sehwag and Mitchell Johnson – all of whom had major roles to play in KXIP’s dream run last season fell silent this time. Sehwag was dropped after a few failures, and the other bigwigs hardly made any impact on a consistent basis. David Miller looked in good touch, at times, but he was overshadowed by the collective mediocrity of the team. The Indian bowling sensation Sandeep Sharma kept bowling well, but could hardly find any support from the other end. Anureet Singh was successful at times, but was never menacing enough for the opposition batsmen. Axar Patel could not replicate his heroics from last season, even though he was KXIP’s best batsman and bowler in certain games this year.
All these four franchises have a lot of catching up to do next season. Putting some more thought behind the team selections might do all of them a world of good.