Is This The Toughest IPL Season To Be A Top Order Batter?
IPL 2022: The conditions in Maharashtra have been favoring the fast bowlers early in the inning.
IPL 2022 has come to its halfway stage where 37 matches have been completed. Most of the teams have settled down with their combinations while a few still aren't clear whom to play.
This season of the IPL is not a typical season since all the matches are happening in Maharashtra - Mumbai & Pune. Mumbai has three grounds - Wankhede, DY Patil, and Brabourne - while Pune has one - MCA Stadium.
Even though Mumbai and Pune historically offered different sets of conditions due to red soil in Mumbai) and black soil (in Pune). However, in the IPL 2022, the conditions have been more or less the same in both cities.
Mumbai had always assisted pace bowlers early in the inning as the new ball moved mostly due to the sea breeze. The movement is tough to negate that's why specialist openers are a must who can face the new ball better than the others.
However, knowing the conditions before the tournament even began, almost all teams latched on to the fast bowlers set 1 in the IPL Mega Auction where a total of 72.2 crore INR were spent to gather premier fast bowlers. Overall, 152.2 crore INR was spent on fast bowlers in the Auction. To give context - only 23.65 crores were spent on spinners.
Teams read the conditions perfectly as, after 37 matches of the season, pace bowlers are breathing fire with the new ball. Pacers have taken 97 wickets inside the powerplay at an average of 28.8 - least in the last five seasons - and an economy of 7.53 - second best in the last five seasons.
Before 2022, the best average in the last five seasons was in IPL 2020 - 34.99 and the best economy was in IPL 2021 - 7.52.
In every 23 balls, a wicket falls in the powerplay this season - before this, such rate of fall of a wicket was seen in IPL 2018 - nearly 27 balls.
Teams have decided to deploy an all-pace attack in the powerplay; only 9% of the overs so far have been bowled by spinners, who have averaged 34.78, picking 14 wickets. To give this context, nearly more than 19% of the powerplay overs were bowled by spinners in the IPL 2021.
The pace-friendly conditions have tested the openers a lot. An average opening partnership this season is scoring 30.51 runs in 23 balls before one of the partners gets out. Last season, it took an average of 30 balls and 41 runs for the bowlers to break the opening stand. In the last five seasons, IPL 2018 comes close to what is happening this season - 21 balls and 30 runs before the first wicket fell.
These have been truly challenging conditions for the batters to make the most of the powerplay. With wickets falling early, most teams are dependent upon a strong middle order to get the team total to a par score.
This is probably one of the major factors why Gujarat Titans are at the top of the points table after 37 games since they have four pacers who bowl at a speed of over 135 kmph.
With almost the same number of matches still left in the season, the conditions are expected to become slightly slow which will bring in spinners more into play. But will the new ball magic end? The question is as exciting as watching the fast bowlers troubling the top-order batters in the powerplay.
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