Champions League 2013 Review

Even though T20 cricket was not their strongest suit, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid had their moments of glory during the Champions League final. The former saw his team triumph and the latter had the satisfaction of seeing his underdog team (which he had led with passion and imagination) fight valiantly in the final.

While Mumbai Indians’ superior relentless firepower, peaking at the right time, won them the big moments, they were also aided by injuries to two key opposition players at crucial moments. High impact T&T bowler Rayad Emrit and RR’s crucial finisher Brad Hodge both had serious fielding injuries in their respective semis – they were both very perceptibly missed (Emrit’s absence has not been spoken of enough by the experts).

The Mumbai Indians responded to the two knockout matches (and the crucial qualifying match before that) as a team – they clearly deserved this title more than anyone else.

We’d mentioned before the tournament that 3 of the 4 IPL teams were favourites for the semis (for the first time in a CL tournament). It panned out exactly like that, and we got the fourth semi-finalist right too (T&T). From the knockout stages, it is all a question of one match, so it is difficult to predict anything – but it is interesting how each of the teams had something to take away. RR won all their group games, CSK looked invincible in the beginning but lost conviction (and perhaps hunger) at the later stages, MI began shakily but picked up pace in the last quarter and T&T were spectacular for the most part.

The best T20 tournament in the world (bar the World T20, of course) lived up to its promise.

Chennai Super Kings – underachieved. The way they started the tournament, with 3 wins in their first 3 games, CSK looked hungry enough. However, as the tournament progressed they faltered at the most crunch stage of the tournament (very unlike CSK) and lost two matches back to back, first to Trinidad & Tobago – to relinquish their top spot, which crucially forced them to go to Jaipur for the semi-final where RR hasn’t lost a single game this year, which is how it panned out again. Apart from Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni, their batting order failed to inspire almost throughout the tournament with Murali Vijay, S. Badrinath, Ravindra Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo (to an extent) being the main culprits. Michael Hussey showed some of his old touch at the beginning only to fade away at the end. In the bowling department, Dwayne Bravo emerged as their highest impact bowler but their sorry state of affairs is confirmed by the fact that Suresh Raina was actually their second-highest impact bowler. Mohit Sharma, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja grossly underperformed for them. What else can it be but desire?

Trinidad & Tobago – underachieved. One of the most enterprising teams of the tournament, T&T, were actually the second-highest impact team amongst all the teams prior to the tournament. Given that fact, their eventual show was disappointing. They had the strongest bowling unit amongst all teams but only Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree (to an extent) played to potential. Rayad Emrit – their highest impact bowler, was uneven, though he was just beginning to get his touch back. Which is why it was such a huge blow when he got injured early on in the semi-final, when defending 153 even against MI’s might was eminently possible; the debilitating nature of the blow was exemplified by the savage treatment to Ottley who now had to bowl in the Powerplay – by Tendulkar, who got his strike rate and assurance back in place after 2 consecutive sixes – it was never the same after that. Their batting, led here by Evin Lewis and Darren Bravo, shone often enough but the others failed to rally around them – not captain Ramdin, not their highest impact batsman Lendl Simmons.

Mumbai Indians – overachieved. It’s an odd thing to say for a team that won the IPL this year and is a past winner of the Champions League. But, as a team, this is not one where the whole had necessarily been greater than the sum of its parts. Without Malinga, their bowling was expected to struggle a bit, but Nathan Coulter-Nile unexpectedly stepped up brilliantly, and was eventually MI’s highest impact bowler in this tournament (without big match consideration). The most visible thing about Mumbai Indians during the latter stages of the tournament was their hunger. Even though they had a lukewarm start to the competition and were almost on the verge of being knocked-out, their best players stepped up during the most crucial parts of their matches. Rohit Sharma with his innings against Perth Scorchers, Dwayne Smith with his knock against T&T and Harbhajan Singh with the ball against Rajasthan Royals in the final. They had the highest Strike Rate Impact batting unit before the tournament started which it demonstrated again and again as the tournament progressed. Dwayne Smith was their top performer in the competition and produced his second tournament-defining performance for Mumbai Indians in as many tournaments (he was their highest impact batsman in the IPL as well). To think that he was not even a part of their playing XI less than a year ago is rather amusing.

Rajasthan Royals – overachieved. This RR outfit had the highest Runs Tally Impact and the second-highest Chasing Impact before the tournament and it showed throughout the tournament. The fact that they reached the final convincingly without the expected contribution from Shane Watson (their highest impact player) is a testimony to the all-round efforts of their team and some imaginative thinking by the team-management and Rahul Dravid. Ajinkya Rahane was brilliant at the top of the order and easily emerged as their highest impact batsman in the tournament whereas Pravin Tambe was a revelation and emerged as the highest impact bowler of the tournament. They missed the services of Brad Hodge dearly in the final where the stage was perfectly set for him to don his finisher’s role after a scintillating start by Rahane and Sanju Samson. The fact that their lower middle-order wasn’t exposed to pressure at any point of the tournament (with Hodge having shouldered responsibility whenever needed) perhaps did them in eventually. Rahul Dravid led his team with passion and imagination throughout the tournament and even though he had a poor tournament by his own standards, he has a lot to feel proud about as captain and mentor.

Highveld Lions – underachieved. Even though they had a considerably high impact team, it was a forgettable tournament for the Lions. To start off, their first match against the Perth Scorchers (the lowest impact side of the tournament) was washed off after which they were comfortably outplayed by Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians before losing out to Otago Volts in a Super-over in a match they should have won comfortably. A lot was promised from Quinton de Kock (whom we had identified as one of the highest impact batsmen in T20 cricket) but he failed to get going in 2 of the 3 matches that he played in before scoring an exceptional hundred in the last game against Otago. The fact that 2 out of their 4 highest impact batsmen didn’t even get a proper chance to play was bizarre (Neil McKenzie got only a single game whereas Gulam Bodi didn’t play any at all). Their bowling also was lacklustre and their highest impact bowler of the tournament Imran Tahir also surprisingly got only 2 games.

Otago Volts – played to expectation. One of the two teams to come through from the qualifiers, Otago Volts may consider themselves highly unlucky to miss out on the semi-final spot. Through the qualifiers and the main tournament, they won 5 games and lost only once and after having won 15 in a row, that solitary loss proved enough for them to be knocked out. Otago after scoring 242 against Perth in their first match may rue their slackness to allow Perth (a feeble batting line-up) to score 180 in the run-chase. Had they won by a bigger margin, it would have been extremely tough for the Mumbai Indians to play the catch-up game. As highlighted in our preview piece, James Neesham staked his claim as one of the most promising T20 all-rounders in the world by emerging as their highest impact player in the tournament. Otago also relied a lot on their captain Brendon McCullum but the attacking instinct he showed in the qualifiers went missing in the main stages of the tournament. Otago’s bowling lacked variety when compared to the other big sides in the tournament but credit is due to them for providing a stiff fight every time.

Brisbane Heat – played to expectation. Prior to the tournament, they were the lowest Batting Impact unit amongst all the teams and as the tournament progressed, their weakness was exposed brutally on all fronts. Their highest score in the tournament was 137 and even though their bowlers punched above their weight in the first two matches, their batting proved to be too inadequate for them to achieve anything in this tournament.

Sunrisers Hyderabad – played to expectation. According to Impact Index they were never one of the favourites to qualify for the knockout stages and their middling Batting and Bowling Impact meant that they were on the fringes more often than not. They were often gutsy in their approach but lacked sufficient quality to take them through. Shikhar Dhawan emerged as their highest impact batsman but his captaincy was questionable at times. For example, Amit Mishra who was SRH’s highest impact bowler in the last edition of IPL got only 7 overs to bowl in the 3 matches that he played in whereas Karan Sharma was given the role of a batting all-rounder and bowled only 1 over in the 3 matches that he played. Needless to say, both of them played a crucial role in their campaign just a few months back, and these choices evened out their plucky attempts in this tournament.

Titans – overachieved. It would be fair to say that given their overall Team Impact (prior to the tournament) Titans over-achieved the most amongst all the teams in the tournament. Prior to the tournament, they had the second lowest Runs Tally Impact batting unit amongst all the teams but the brilliance of Henry Davids at the top covered up for that. Even though their bowling unit as a whole wasn’t one of the high impact bowling units of the tournaments, their propensity to take wickets (Wickets Tally Impact) was third-best prior to the tournament and it showed in the fact that they took 23 wickets in the 3 games that they played with Rowan Richards being their stand-out performer. A loss against CSK after scoring 185 and a D/L loss to Trinidad & Tobago proved enough for them to get knocked-out.

Perth Scorchers – played to expectation. With their big stars missing, this was the lowest impact team prior to the tournament and they were mere pushovers for the rest of the teams in their group. They had the second-lowest Batting Impact unit and the lowest Bowling Impact unit in the tournament and their inexperience was exposed ruthlessly. With the team struggling with inexperience (5 players having not played a single T20 game before the tournament), their decision to play their most experienced bowler Brad Hogg for only one match was the most dubious decision of the tournament. It was an unmemorable and an unremarkable outing for them, one in which they lowered the overall bar of the event.

And here’s celebrating the characters that made this show come alive.

Without taking big-match performances into account, Sunil Narine and Pravin Tambe emerge as the highest impact players of the tournament. Even though Tambe has a slightly higher Bowling Impact than that of Narine’s, Narine emerges at the top due to his unbeaten knock of 8 runs off 3 balls against Titans in a match which Trinidad & Tobago won by 6 runs. Suresh Raina and Henry Davids both had outstanding tournaments respectively for their teams and it is interesting to see both of them putting in all-round performances in the tournament.

Within a tournament context, the highest impact players are Dwayne Smith, Pravin Tambe, Harbhajan Singh, Sunil Narine and Ajinkya Rahane.

Smith was consistent throughout the tournament and produced two high impact performances in the knockout stages; the same goes for Tambe as well. Harbhajan Singh had an indifferent tournament but came up with a brilliant spell in the final against Rajasthan Royal to produce a tournament-defining performance .

The highest impact batsmen without tournament context are as follows:

Henry Davids scored almost 34% of all the runs that Titans scored in this competition which is a whopping margin. He excelled in all the batting parameters and his Runs Tally Impact was the joint-best in the tournament. Suresh Raina, Ajinkya Rahane, Dwayne Smith, Rohit Sharma and Evin Lewis all find a mention on this list due to their remarkable consistency . Brad Hodge’s high presence on this list shows what Rajasthan Royals missed in the final.

Within a tournament context, the highest impact batsman are – Dwayne Smith, Ajinkya Rahane, Evin Lewis, Henry Davids and Suresh Raina.

Dwayne Smith emerges at the top due to his tournament-defining performance in the semi-final against Trinidad & Tobago, whereas Ajinkya Rahane and Evin Lewis make it on the basis of their consistency and their big-match performances in the final and semi-final respectively. Henry Davids’ presence here, despite not playing a knockout game, shows how consistent he was.

The highest impact bowlers without tournament context are as follows:

Pravin Tambe, the winner of the ‘Golden Wicket’ award for the most number of wickets was indeed the highest impact bowler of the tournament and was exemplary in all fronts. He had the highest Wickets Tally Impact, second-highest Economy Impact , highest Pressure-Building Impact and was the most consistent bowler in the tournament. Even though Christian played only 3 matches, he finds a mention for his consistency . Suresh Raina on the other hand was highly economical and also picked up a wicket on each of the occasions he was asked to bowl and therefore finds a mention on this list. Rayad Emrit had a lukewarm tournament according to his own standards but even though he was highly uneconomical, he had a high Wickets Tally Impact.

Within a tournament context, the highest impact bowlers are – Pravin Tambe, Harbhajan Singh, Sunil Narine, Dwayne Bravo and Daniel Christian.

Even though Harbhajan Singh produced a tournament-defining performance , he was still behind Pravin Tambe as the highest impact bowler of the tournament. Pravin Tambe was not only consistent throughout the tournament but also produced two big-match performances in the semi-final and the final to maintain his spot at the top. Dwayne Bravo also makes it to the list due to his big-match performance against Rajasthan Royals in the semi-final. Again, Christian’s presence here, despite playing no knockout game exemplifies his consistency .

Highest Pressure Impact Batsmen- James Neesham, Ryan ten Doeschate and Derek de Boorder.

The fact that all three of them are from Otago Volts talks about the top-order instability in their batting order throughout the tournament. James Neesham in particular was brilliant under pressure while chasing against Highveld Lions.

Highest Chasing Impact Batsmen- Dwayne Smith, Ajinkya Rahane and Sanju Samson.

In both the games where Mumbai chased under a must-win situation, it was Dwayne Smith who gave a fast and solid start at the top. Ajinkya Rahane and Sanju Samson were at their best while chasing not only in this tournament but during this year’s IPL as well. The fact that they almost pulled off the big chase against Mumbai Indians in the final and that they were a part of 3 successful chases in the tournament is a testimony to that.

Most consistent batsmen- Evin Lewis, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma.

Even though he is such an unorthodox player, it is very interesting to see Lewis being one of the most consistent batsmen in the tournament. Given his playing style, if he can keep his consistency he will be a revelation in world cricket. Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma are both masters of the T20 format and the lynchpin of their respective sides, no surprises on them being here.

Highest Wickets Tally Impact Bowlers- Pravin Tambe, Sunil Narine and Rayad Emrit.

Tambe and Narine were not only economical but they also picked up wickets at a consistent rate and interestingly all their wickets were of top-order batsmen. Rayad Emrit was expensive but showed his wicket-taking talent.

Highest Economy Impact Bowlers- Sunil Narine, Pravin Tambe and Suresh Raina.

The only surprise here is Suresh Raina, he bowled 8 overs in the tournament and gave away only 28 runs. Conventionally, he has the best economy rate in the tournament but in a match context both Narine and Tambe go ahead of him.

Highest Pressure Building Impact Bowlers(taking wickets in succession) – Pravin Tambe, Rayad Emrit and Rahul Shukla.

Pravin Tambe picked up wickets in quick succession several times in the tournament thereby completely decapitating the opposition batting-order. Rayad Emrit and Rahul Shukla find a mention here for their performances against Chennai Super Kings and Otago Volts respectively.

Most consistent bowlers (lowest failure rate) – Pravin Tambe, Sunil Narine and Daniel Christian.

Every bowling parameter has been more or less dominated by Tambe and Narine and that just shows their effectiveness throughout the tournament. None of these bowlers failed even once in the tournament although special credit should go to Tambe and Narine as they featured in 5 games without failing even once whereas Christian played in only 3 games.

 

Soham Sarkhel and Jaideep Varma