BLOG: An analytical review of IPL 2019’s key performers

Article by Dan Atherton

Key takeaways

– David Warner excelled square of the wicket, scoring more runs than anyone else with the pull shot and ranking second for runs with the cut.

– Two of Mumbai’s key bowlers, Jasprit Bumrah and Lasith Malinga, adopted contrasting tactics with their lengths when bowling at the death.

– As well as outscoring Virat Kohli in the competition, Rishabh Pant had more catches and stumpings than any other wicketkeeper.

One of the main talking points from the recently concluded 2019 IPL campaign was that of Sunrisers Hyderabad and the incredible relationship between opening pair David Warner and Jonny Bairstow; the unlikely duo hailing from Australia and England respectively.

The Hyderabad franchise were characterised by the platform set by their opening batsmen this season, what they achieved was remarkable especially when we assess the numbers seen in the table below. Four of the five opening stands in IPL 2019 were set by the Warner/Bairstow tandem; that list headlined by the incredible 185 registered against Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Despite the numbers that were put up by their two overseas signings at the top of the order, Sunrisers Hyderabad were not exactly a dominant force in terms of points gained – winning as many matches as they lost (five games). Perhaps it was a case of not valuing what you had until it’s gone however, as Sunrisers Hyderabad went on to lose four of their five games once that pairing was split up; Bairstow’s final appearance was the defeat on the 23rd April against Chennai Super Kings.

One could argue that there wasn’t much when it came to depth when you look beyond the opening batsmen – clearly improvements are required for the 2020 edition of the IPL for SRH.

On a personal level however, David Warner will be delighted about what he managed to achieve this season for his franchise. Amassing an impressive competition-leading 692 runs, he may wonder ‘what if?’ as it is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility that he’d have given Virat Kohli a run for his money for most runs posted in an IPL campaign (973 in 2016), if he’d have been able to stick around. Warner’s performances this season can be summarised by the fact that he enjoyed scoring square of the wicket – he topped the charts for most runs from pull shots (109) and second for cut shots (72).

That being said, Warner showed great shot variety during IPL 2019. Yes, he performed well square of the wickets but he also worked the ball around and dashed for singles but he also got on his front foot and displayed some wonderful driving; featuring prominently in the charts for both those shot types too. As the graphic below highlights, he knocked it about on the off side and the leg side; his scoring in the four zones square of the wickets are almost mirror images of each other. The Australian was keeping the opposing captain and bowler guessing throughout the tournament by playing in such a manner.

David Warner wagon wheel. IPL 2019

Cools heads at the death reap rewards for Mumbai

Mumbai Indians managed to win IPL 2019 and in doing so have now extended their run of alternating years between lifting the trophy and failing to do so. They have won the competition in 2013, 2015, 2017 and now 2019.

They left it incredibly late in the day, mind – recording victory by a margin of just one run versus Chennai Super Kings.

It must have been incredibly reassuring to know that their side had two of the best finishers in world cricket, never mind this season’s IPL. Only Kagiso Rabada took more wickets in the death overs in this campaign than Indians duo Jasprit Bumrah and Lasith Malinga; the latter doing the damage at the end. That being said, Malinga had gone for 41 runs off 19 balls in the last overs of matches (economy rate of over 13) prior to the final in IPL 2019; he managed to summon his experience and went for just seven, when it really mattered most.

What’s fascinating is just how differently Jasprit Bumrah and Lasith Malinga approach such a critical such stage in the opposition innings. Lasith Malinga had the highest share of Yorker-length deliveries of any bowler in IPL 2019 (21.1%) and usually elects to push the ball up, almost 75% of his balls have been bowled on a half volley length or fuller. That style could not contrast more to his Indian teammate’s, Jasprit Bumrah. Bumrah has only pitched up 29% of the time; his bowling is more characterised by bowling on a length or just back of a length, occasionally throwing in a short ball.  Malinga didn’t bowl a single short ball between the overs of 17 and 20.

Pant excels behind the stumps as well as with the bat

Rishabh Pant (Delhi Capitals) and Quinton de Kock (Mumbai Indians) took more catches than any other players during the IPL 2019 season. The two keepers managed to take 18 and 17 catches respectively, no other wicketkeeper or fielder recorded more than 12.

Although there was only a difference of one catch between them – the value of those dismissals is fairly sizeable.

Whilst 15 of the 17 catches taken by the Mumbai Indians wicketkeeper were straightforward (88.2%) just 10 of the 18 registered by Rishabh Pant were of a similar level (55.6%). Furthermore, Pant managed to take eight catches that were of a moderate difficulty at the very least; three of which were difficult, the most recorded by any fielder across the competition.

Pant took a lot of plaudits for his performances with the bat; he was the third-highest scoring Indian during this edition of the tournament (488), finishing ahead of Virat Kohli (464) in those stakes. Yet, his contribution behind the stumps was arguably more valuable as highlighted; it is also worth mentioning he recorded more stumpings than any other wicketkeeper (six).

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