This is twelfth in a series of features where we will be taking a detailed dive into the various factors that stood out during the course of the Indian T20 League 2020 season.
The dust hasn’t settled on the 2020 Indian T20 League campaign but all eight franchises will begin preparation for the 2021 campaign which is set to commence at the backend of the first quarter of next year, as per Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Sourav Ganguly.
While there are rumours swirling that the league is set to schedule a mega auction and add a ninth team in the league, the reports remain premature and unverified, so per today, 2021 will feature an auction of released and new players, that teams will fight for to fine-tune their squads from this campaign.
“The real work starts when the season ends. Licking your wounds and getting to work on addressing your shortcomings swiftly is of the essence," Brett Lee said.
No one will feel that more than Chennai, who, instead of providing Mumbai yet another tough fight for the title, petered out even before the playoffs. They will need to take a hard look and rebuild their squad. The likes of Delhi, Hyderabad and Rajasthan, meanwhile, are close but not close enough, and they will have to plug the remaining leaks in their ship to set a course for the 2021 title.”
Assuming that the auction won’t be a mega affair, we look at one or two glaring weaknesses in each squad and how they can address them in the auction:
Stacked from top to bottom, Mumbai have a squad that repeated their title win with ease and will be the undisputed favourites to three-peat in 2021. While there are absolutely no holes to plug in this roster, the only thing they can probably point to is perhaps an overseas pacer. If Malinga or the team decides to not reunite in 2021, Mumbai might want to add a frontline pacer to their roster for next season. The obvious choice would be Australia's Mitchell Starc. One of the best bowlers of his generation, Starc has often skipped the IPL citing workload issues. However, with James Pattinson in the roster, Mumbai can rotate the two Australians based on the opposition and manage their workload so as to maximise each player next season.
Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje are sensational, but Delhi desperately lacked a third pacer that could keep the opposition's scoring rate under control or pick up wickets in tandem with the South African duo. The return of Ishant Sharma, who was simply sensational in 2019, will give the bowling lineup a huge facelift in the upcoming season.
Despite losing Bhuvaneshwar Kumar early in the season, Hyderabad were still among the best bowling units in the Indian T20 League and led by David Warner, they went within a victory of the final but were beaten by Delhi in Qualifier 2. Their downfall this season was mostly down to their disastrous middle order where not a single batsman could get going or produce consistently for the side. If Chennai do end up releasing Suresh Raina, expect Hyderabad to be the first in the queue to secure his services. In Raina, Hyderabad will have a reliable batsman at #3 that will let Manish Pandey bat at #5 and provide a stronger look to that batting unit, alleviating pressure off David Warner at the top of the order.
It’s always ‘almost’ for Bangalore in the Indian T20 League. For once, their bowling unit surpassed expectations, but it was the lack of consistency at the top that led to their eventual downfall. Aaron Finch and Josh Phillippe simply aren’t cut for the job and Bangalore will certainly on the lookout for an opener. Team coach Mike Hesson will look no further than countryman Colin Munro to fill that gap at the top of the order. With over 1700 runs at a striker rate of 155+ in T20Is, Munro is one of the most accomplished batsmen in the format. His Indian T20 League career hasn’t gotten going so far but at a high-scoring ground like Chinnaswamy, the Kiwi can deal some serious damage at the top of the order while allowing young Devdutt Padikkal to anchor the innings.
Perhaps the most bipolar team in the Indian T20 League, Kolkata managed to win games that they no right to and lost games that were well within their grasps. The reason for that was the inconsistency at the top of their batting order and in the middle. Kolkata tried a multitude of partners alongside Shubman Gill at the top of the order but none seemingly provided the desired solidity that they needed to get through the season. Perhaps a seasoned veteran like Englishman Dawid Malan could help Kolkata form a strong opening pair and a veteran batsman like Manoj Tiwari or Kedar Jadhav can elevate the middle of the pack for the two-time champions.
A disastrous start, a miraculous comeback and then a devastating loss to cap it off. Punjab went through the motions this season but in the end fell agonizingly short of finishing in the top four. Their issues all season were tied around their lack of a reliable Indian batsman in the middle order and a pacer that could complement their preferred trio of Sheldon Cottrell, Mohammad Shami and Arshdeep Singh. Perhaps a veteran like Parthiv Patel at #4 and Englishman Chris Woakes could be the two players that could push Punjab from the fences into the top four.
With MS Dhoni announcing that he will no longer skipper Chennai starting 2021, the three-time champions will be looking for someone with a championship pedigree to lead them next season. Perhaps someone like Joe Root, provided that he plays next season, could prove to be a massive addition for Chennai, not only as the leader but also at the top of the batting order, replacing the retired Shane Watson. A punt on youngster Yashasvi Jaiswal could also be on the cards for Chennai, who will be assessing long-term options to improve the roster.
Despite boasting of the best foreign quartet in the league, Rajasthan struggled massively all season long due to the massively inferior quality of their Indian roster. Outside of Rahul Tewatia, not one Indian player in that Rajasthan roster can claim to have had a good campaign for their side, which is essentially why they finished at the bottom of the table. Rajasthan need at least three quality Indian players and they could start with someone like Harbhajan Singh, who is not only a crafty bowler but also a handy batsman. They should also be among the front-runners to sign Suresh Raina if he were to enter the auction. Above all, Rajasthan simply need to settle on a consistent opening pair and run with it throughout the season rather than chopping and changing the batting order every other game as they did in 2020.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter / @IndianT20League