While we are hours away from the closure of IPL 2019 ,we take this moment to have a look back at the non qualifiers of IPL 2019. Four teams which was supposed to have good enough firepower to make it the playoffs, RCB,Kings XI, KKR and RR , all had their shortcomings which failed to get them going in the latest edition.
Rajasthan Royals struggled right from the outset particularly with their bowling. The pace attack struggled throughout this IPL,with Unadkat probably still reeling under the pressure of a high price tag and hence could not reproduce his form of 2017. Dhawal Kulkarni failed to deliver. Varun Aaron showed glimpse of his pace but leaked runs too. Ben Stokes had a forgettable IPL as the leading allrounder. Only Jofra Archer looked a worthy fast bowler. In batting Ajinkya Rahane struggled with his form initially and also was removed suddenly from captaincy which went to Steve Smith ,who however did a decent job as captain at the back end , himself also scoring some runs and raising hopes of playoffs qualification. But inspite of superb bowling from leggie Shreyas Gopal right through the event , couple of Buttler specials , some superb batting by 17 year old emerging player Riyan Parag and Samson, and a fine century from the deposed captain Rahane, Rajasthan at the end fell short. Also another issue was the exodus of their foreign group for World cup duties which left them more weaker. Players who did well for Rajasthan this season were Shreyas Gopal who took 20 odd wickets including a hattrick vs RCB, Sanju Samson who looks a class player and Riyan Parag who is a shining youngster.
The other Royals, the Royals Challengers Bangaluru had all the ammunition this season to make to the playoffs and was largely expected to last the distance. However consistent poor bowling in death overs by their pace attack left captain Virat Kohli tearing his hair repeatedly in frustration. Dale Steyn’s arrival improved matters but he got injured. Also the constant chopping and changing of the team, its batting order didn’t help matters and RCB started IPL 2019 with 6 successive losses!! Too many team changes are bound to create insecurity amongst players. Also some of the overseas players like Moeen Ali were not even utilised well in first half. Things started to change for them at the back end with some well earned victories but it was too late to make up for a terrible start to the tournament. Moeen Ali, Chahal ,Parthiv performed well for RCB. Navdeep Saini bowled fast and looked promising and Virat Kohli looked in fine form and scored a brilliant 100 at Eden Gardens. However as a captain he struggled to get the right combination and looked short of ideas especially in the 1st half . For the records RCB ended at the bottom of the table.
The Kings XI Punjab had struggles similar to RCB. Top heavy batting and bowling which struggled to settle down. The team actually started well and was around the top four in points table before running out of steam in 2nd half. Like RCB ,the team thinktank fiddled with the eleven a lot which never allowed players to settle down. Gayle had a patchy season, Rahul though scored lot of runs ,had a poor strike rate by his standards and that did not help the team’s cause. The other batsmen were mostly short of runs . Sam Curran inspite of some successes was not persisted with in most matches and the off form David Miller had a longer run than his form deserved. Mujeeb’s injury did affect the bowling. Ashwin started the season well as captain but his captaincy glaringly fell away in 2nd half and too many team changes finished Kings XI.
Perhaps the the team which should be most gutted at not reaching playoffs would have been Kolkata Knight Riders. KKR started off in whirlwind fashion with Andre Russell demolishing bowling attacks in all forms to fashion sensational victories. However the wheels started to fall off after Kolkata’s humiliation in hands of CSK and then came their 6 match losing streak which led to rifts between captain and some of the key players with Russell even criticising team tactics in media. The team did make a late surge by beating Mumbai Indians at Eden Gardens banking on a huge score of 232 with Russell batting at 3 and scoring 80 off 40 balls and then beat KingsXI but were thrashed by their nemesis, the Mumbai Indians at Wankhede to crash out of the event when a win was enough to take them to playoffs. In hindsight KKRs loss to Rajasthan at home from a winning position cost the team dear. The KKR spinners particularly Kuldeep Yadav performed poorly this season and the fast bowling group was non existent. On a home pitch assisting fast bowling ,KKR lacked quality fast bowlers in their team. Dinesh Karthik had a poor IPL both as a player and captain taking some weird decisions like batting a skilful batter like Gill at 7. Above all the team’s reluctance to bat Russell higher up instead of 5 or 6 and playing slow scoring Uthappa regularly at 3 cost them dearly. Russell was their best batsman this season and hence could not get more balls to enhance his impact. Uthappa’s slow scoring specially in last game vs MI ended KKRs hopes. For KKR , Russell was their top performer followed by Nitish Rana. Lynn & Gill performed well at the back end of their campaign.
Thus a lot to think about and plan for the non qualifiers of 2019 to make bigger impact in IPL 2020.