The 12th season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) reached its conclusion on Sunday night, with Mumbai Indians (MI) pipping Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in one of the most thrilling finishes to become the most successful team in the tournament history with four titles.
As is expected, it was a summer of some breathtaking action, and some extraordinary individual performances lit the stage to quell any murmurs of a ‘low-key’ season in the build-up to the ICC World Cup.
From Andre Russell’s mad-max hitting to Hardik Pandya’s sensational all-round campaign, and from Kagiso Rabada’s supreme skill with the ball to David Warner’s rousing return to the top-IPL 2019 was graced by some unforgettable heroics.
But for some, the season will fade away as a memory to forget as soon as possible. Even the best fall down some times, and for a select group of players, the season gone by was a huge leveller.
Without meaning any disrespect to any of the fallen stars, here is a compilation of a ‘flop’ XI from IPL 2019.
1. Ambati Rayudu (Chennai Super Kings)
Matches 17 | Runs 282 | Average 23.50 | Strike Rate 93.06 | 50s 1 | Best 57
From World Cup selection dejection to an absolute lack of runs in a competition where his levels have been commendably solid in recent years, the summer of ’19 will be one Ambati Rayudu would want to lock away from anywhere close to his conscience.
In 16 innings, Rayudu crossed 30 only twice, and the season went by with just one half-century – only twice had he endured a campaign statistically worse than this, and neither of them were after 2015.
The fall only looked starker given his excesses from the previous season – in IPL 2018, Rayudu was Chennai Super Kings’ top run-getter, smashing over 600 runs in what was, by a country mile, his best-ever single-season performance.
Perhaps he was hard done by his demotion in the batting order, having opened for CSK in half the games last year. Still, for someone who has plied in his trade in the middle order for the majority of his career, the returns this time around were quite non-dimensional.
2. Robin Uthappa (Kolkata Knight Riders)
Matches 12 | Runs 282 | Average 31.33 | Strike Rate 115.10 | 50s 1 | Best 67*
Another example of someone who has opened in IPL matches in the past, Robin Uthappa has been the first-choice number three for some time in the Kolkata Knight Riders setup – and this year, he let his team of the last nine years and himself down quite bad.
At first glance, that average may not look the stuff of ‘flops’, but dig deeper and the holes start emerging. There were two not outs doing a huge favour to his overall numbers, and to possess a strike rate of 115 would be out of place in any T20 unit, leave alone one that did its scoring at 9.11 runs per over (and still fell short more often than not).
The lowest ebbs came through two of the most forgettable innings of the season. Uthappa dawdled along to nine off 20 balls in a chase of 214 against his former team Royal Challengers Bangalore (KKR eventually lost by all of 10 runs, so the damage was unequivocal), and then limped to a lifeless 47-ball 40 in KKR’s must-win final group stage game away to Mumbai Indians.
A contract renewal may not be a certainty anymore.
3. Vijay Shankar (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
Matches 15 | Runs 244 | Strike Rate 126.42 | 50s 0 | Wickets 1 | Economy 8.75
It was such a perfect start to Vijay Shankar’s summer. He hit an unbeaten 40 off 24 in the season-opener against Kolkata Knight Riders, and pummeled a 15-ball 35 to close out a 199-run chase against Rajasthan Royals, and his finishing finesse, combined with his multi-lateral areas of contribution, earned a World Cup ticket two weeks later.
From there, it was like something snapped – and his summer went up in dust.
In 12 subsequent innings, Shankar managed a mere 169 runs at a disturbingly low strike rate of 109.74. With the ball, he was only handed eight overs all season (and never more than two in a game). Further worryingly, his fielding, usually solid without being spectacular, was a little iffy in the back-end of the league stage.
The Indian team management is hoping the pre-selection Shankar turns up in England.
4. Dinesh Karthik [C/WK] (Kolkata Knight Riders)
Matches 14 | Runs 253 | Average 31.62 | Strike Rate 146.24 | 50s 2 | Dismissals 7
A second World Cup-bound disappointment from IPL 2019. Purely from a numbers point of view, Dinesh Karthik’s campaign brackets under below-par only because of the high benchmark he set in the previous season; the KKR skipper amassed nearly 500 runs at an average touching 50 while crossing 35 in eight out of 16 attempts in IPL 2018.
This season, he topped 35 just twice, and the strike rate only wears a formidable look owing to his late-season surge (and one anomalous effort of 97 from 50 balls against Kings XI Punjab). In the first 10 games, at which point KKR had almost put themselves out of the reckoning, Karthik had mustered 117 runs at a strike rate below 120.
It was his captaincy, though, which came into greater questioning. The chaos around Andre Russell was the lowlight of an insipid Knight Riders journey, and his handling of an out-of-form bowling attack wasn’t all-too-inspiring either.
5. Ben Stokes (Rajasthan Royals)
Matches 9 | Runs 123 | Strike Rate 124.24 | 50s 0 | Wickets 6 | Economy 11.22
A now-recurring problem for Rajasthan Royals, and one of the two top candidates for the worst return-on-investment over the last two seasons (the second being a teammate of his who features a little further down).
Ben Stokes was the most expensive overseas buy at the 2018 IPL auction, with four different teams fighting for his services before the Royals pouched him for INR 12.5 crore. It wasn’t surprising, because a year earlier, on his IPL debut, the English all-rounder was named Most Valuable Player for returns of 316 runs (S/R 142.98) and 12 wickets (ER 7.18).
On this season’s evidence, it wouldn’t be too harsh to call him a bit of a liability, in particular with the ball. Stokes leaked 11.22 runs per over – the highest for any bowler to have bowled at least 10 overs in IPL 2019.
His contribution with the bat, too, was mediocre; he began the campaign with a six-and-out against Kings XI Punjab, and made an enterprising 26-ball 46 in a lost chase at Chennai, but in seven innings after that, he never struck at over 110. That’s not what you expect from a 1.4-million-pound finisher.
6. Yusuf Pathan (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
Matches 10 | Innings 8 | Runs 40 | Average 13.33 | Strike Rate 88.88 | Best 16*
Speaking of disappointing finishers, would it be a stretch to say Yusuf Pathan’s days in the IPL may be numbered? Younger brother Irfan came up with a heart-warming defense on Twitter in response to Yusuf’s critics, but was there any real defending of what was, by a humungous margin, his worst-ever IPL season?
The argument to be made in favour of Yusuf was that he didn’t once face more than 12 balls in an innings. But are scores of 1(4), 16(12), 6(6), 0(4), 5*(4) and 3(4) acceptable from a man who made his mark in this format as a bludgeoner/game-changer?
Teams have shelled out crores through the IPL years (INR 1.9 crore from Sunrisers in 2018, $2.1 million from KKR in 2011) precisely for his ability to clear the ropes from the word go. That ability may have waned now, and at 36, odds are it won’t be coming back.
7. Krishnappa Gowtham (Rajasthan Royals)
Matches 7 | Innings 4 | Runs 18 | Strike Rate 94.73 | Wickets 1 | Economy 8.30
A lower-profile name compared to some of the stalwarts making this XI, but it becomes easy to forget player values (and performances) in the fast-paced world of the IPL, and Krishnappa Gowtham, just 16 months ago, was snapped up for INR 6.20 crore after an intense bidding war.
He appeared to be on the path to repaying the Royals too, finishing with the highest strike rate for any batsman to score 100 runs in IPL 2018 (196.87), while doing a solid job with his quick off-spinners in the Powerplay for an economy of 7.80. This year, it went off the boil bad enough for him to be sidelined to the benches for half the campaign.
One wicket from 20 overs of bowling suggests he was worked over by opposition batsmen, and he didn’t touch double-digits with the bat even once (3 off 4, 9 off 8, 6 off 6).
Gowtham is one of three Royals big-buys to feature on this list, and while the other higher-profile names in that lot may be persisted with, the road might not be as straight-forward for the 34-year-old.
8. Jaydev Unadkat (Rajasthan Royals)
Matches 11 | Wickets 10 | Economy 10.66 | Average 39.80 | Strike Rate 22.4 | Best 2/26
The third money-raker to be falling by the wayside for Rajasthan, after Gowtham and Stokes, is Jaydev Unadkat–the most expensive Indian pick for the second IPL auction running, and among the most expensive bowlers, too, for the second IPL season running.
His 9.65 runs per over following a whopping INR 11.5 crore purchase ahead of IPL 2018 was bad enough; in 2019, having been cut-priced to a more ‘humble’ INR 8.40 crore, the left-arm seamer leaked his runs at 10.66.
The salvaging factor for leaky customers is wickets, and that has run alarmingly dry for Unadkat. In 26 matches over the past two campaigns, he has managed more than one wicket only thrice, with this season yielding just one two-wicket haul in 11 outings.
The decision-makers at Rajasthan have a tough call to make.
9. Andrew Tye (Kings XI Punjab)
Matches 6 | Wickets 3 | Economy 10.59 | Average 77.66 | Strike Rate 44.0 | Best 1/37
Possibly the sharpest decline of all the entrants on this unwanted list, because while you may have forgotten it, Andrew Tye was the Purple Cap winner from the previous edition.
The Australian had scalped 24 wickets at an economy of 8.00, to extend his IPL honeymoon which began with a hat-trick and a five-for on IPL debut for Gujarat Lions in 2017. This year, he compelled R Ashwin and the Kings XI Punjab think-tank to look at left-field options such as Hardus Viljoen and untested teenager Arshdeep Singh.
That’s because of his six outings, Tye’s ‘best’, by wickets and economy, was a spell of 1/37 in 4 overs. The variations of pace and deceptive cutters from the last two years turned quite readable to most batsmen, and Tye wasn’t helped by the greasy hands most of his teammates played with through the summer.
10. Mujeeb ur Rahman (Kings XI Punjab)
Matches 5 | Wickets 3 | Economy 10.06 | Average 63.66 | Strike Rate 38.0 | Best 2/31
Tye wasn’t the only foreign import to let Punjab down after showing them the skies in the last campaign. Mujeeb ur Rahman’s downward spiral from frugal first-choice pick to leaky expendable, arguably, hurt Kings XI more than even Tye’s downfall.
If the Mujeeb of 2018 (14 wickets from 11 games, economy 6.99) had joined forces with R Ashwin in the kind of form he was in this time, KXIP could well have been the fourth team making the playoffs cut ahead of SRH. Instead, the Punjab captain could only risk the Afghan mystery spinner’s services five times.
Of that, Mujeeb finished wicketless in three – and hit rock-bottom on his final appearance, conceding 66 off his four overs in a must-win match against Hyderabad to achieve the ignominy of the worst match figures in IPL 2019.
11. Kuldeep Yadav (Kolkata Knight Riders)
Matches 9 | Wickets 4 | Economy 8.66 | Average 71.50 | Strike Rate 49.5 | Best 2/41
Arguably the most worrying entry on this list among the three Indian players who are headed to the World Cup later this month. Four wickets in nine games for, who ordinarily averages 1.25 wickets per T20 appearance, was always going to trigger alarm bells.
It didn’t help that Kuldeep’s bowling lacked bite irrespective of varying situations/conditions – he was used in the middle overs and the death with little effect. Only once did he perform to his standard, when he kept the lid on Rishabh Pant and co. to help KKR force a Super Over in Delhi.
Apart from that, it was all rather toothless from the chinaman bowler, and it all culminated with a Moeen Ali-driven pasting at Bengaluru: Kuldeep was tonked for 59, and didn’t feature once in KKR’s last five games (all of which were virtual must-win affairs).