We are nearly halfway into the 2019 IPL season and already the biggest event of the year, ICC Cricket World Cup, is casting its shadows on the league. While Virat Kohli has been clear when stating that the performances in the IPL will have little bearing on the World Cup squad selection, the talk in the town has invariably been about the performances of perspective World Cup-bound players in IPL.
With the Indian World Cup squad announcement due on Monday (15 April), we take a look at the numbers and performances from the World Cup hopefuls.
Mat - 6 Runs - 165 Avg - 27.5 SR - 128.9
Rohit Sharma is still in search of that elusive half-century in the IPL season but came back from a niggle on Saturday to score a good-looking 47. He has taken his time to start off and has forged a good partnership with Quinton de Kock at the top for Mumbai Indians but ideally, the Indian team vice-captain ought to have scored more runs at a much better rate.
What's even more worrying is a trend of him getting out after settling down at the wicket. All of his six scores this season are in the range of 10-50 and the Mumbai Indians opener has failed to kick on after getting starts. Rohit will be a key player in India's upcoming World Cup campaign and they will want him to head to the marquee tournament with his confidence soaring.
Mat - 7 Runs - 249 Avg - 41.5 SR - 128.3
Dhawan began the season with a bang, slamming 43 and 51 against top sides, Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, but slowly tapered off before making a mark a couple of days ago with a defining knock of 97* against Kolkata Knight Riders in their backyard to take Delhi home. In a team of youngsters, Dhawan has had to play the mentor role and has appeared to be a different batsman after curbing his aggression at the top due to Prithvi Shaw's presence.
The knock against Kolkata Knight Riders should boost his confidence and India’s immensely. However, his recent slump in ODIs and inconsistency this IPL will worry the Indian think-tank if he does not hit top gear soon.
Mat - 7 Runs - 270 Avg - 38.5 SR - 126.16
Royal Challengers Bangalore are having a disastrous season so far and not even the massive presence of Virat Kohli has helped them. The Indian skipper has been solid with the bat, making 270 runs at 38.5 but has struggled to get going with anyone else aside from AB de Villiers.
There also seems to be developing a profound weakness against spin which Adam Zampa had earlier exploited in the ODI series prior to the IPL. Kohli's captaincy is an even bigger concern and his decision-making at Royal Challengers Bangalore, who have lost six of their seven matches, has stood out like a sore thumb. India need Kohli, the batsman, and Kohli, the captain, to find peak form heading into the World Cup but that's not to say he should drain out.
Mat - 8 Runs - 335 Avg - 67.0 SR - 130.85
The standout presence in the batting this season amongst the Indian contingent has been KL Rahul. A debatable selection ahead of this IPL season, Rahul might well have sealed his place for England with some brilliant and mature performances at the top for Kings XI Punjab. The opener, who had slammed a record 14-ball half-century last season, has shown the willingness to curb his natural instincts when needed and play the anchor role in the Ravichandran Ashwin-led side.
He has led Punjab to wins by remaining unbeaten till the end and that is a huge positive to take away for an opener. Rahul's new-found maturity and clean stroke play make him an ideal option to have for the World Cup. He can slot in as back-up opener or as a middle-order batsman and should enjoy batting in England.
Mat - 7 Runs - 133 Avg - 22.16 SR - 89.26
Pushed down the order after another experiment at the top of the order not bearing fruit, Rayudu is in danger of missing out from the World Cup party. The major concern surrounding Rayudu at No 4 for India was his strike rate and this season at the IPL it has been an Achilles heel for the middle-order batsman. The slow-natured Chepauk hasn't helped his scoring rate either but the string of low scores at the top should seal the door for Rayudu who is in direct competition with Vijay Shankar and Rishabh Pant for a place in the World Cup team.
With an average of 22.16, majorly boosted by one half-century against Rajasthan Royals, Rayudu has been struggling to get his 2018 IPL form going. He has lost his place at the top of the Chennai batting order to Faf du Plessis and looks likely to miss the World Cup flight, if the IPL performances are taken into account.
Mat - 7 Runs - 115 Avg - 28.75 SR - 92.74
Unlike with Team India, Jadhav hasn't been used with the ball at all at Chennai Super Kings this season despite their fortress, the Chepauk, rolling out slow surfaces. Jadhav hasn't had much of a chance to impress after coming in behind the top four. In the two matches he faced more than 20 balls, Jadhav made 27 off 34 (vs Delhi Capitals) and 58 off 54 (vs Mumbai Indians).
Like with Rayudu, the dwindling strike rate is also a concern given the role he plays in the Indian ODI side, but this is mostly due to the Chepauk surface. While his form isn't worrying yet given that he has had minimal opportunities to impact a match, India will hope that Jadhav strings together a couple of confidence-boosting performances before taking the flight to England.
Mat - 7 Runs - 93 Avg - 18.6 SR - 116.25 Catches - 4 Stumpings - 0
Despite impressing with his captaincy, Karthik hasn't scored runs in a shambolic performance in the season so far. In the seven matches so far, the wicket-keeper batsman has made just 93 runs at an average of 18.6 and his strike rate of 116.25 defies logic given that he has been playing on a belter of a surface at Eden Gardens.
Kolkata Knight Riders have been over-reliant on Andre Russell this season and their top-order batting has been a major concern. Karthik, who had shored up similar problems last year with some telling performances, has struggled to get going this time around. His only half-century came against Delhi Capitals early in the season. All of his other scores this season are less than 20. To top it all, despite taking a brilliant catch behind the stumps the other night, Karthik's keeping was shoddy in a couple of matches and he let go of chances.
Mat - 7 Runs - 214 Avg - 107.0 SR - 127.38 Catches - 4 Stumpings - 2
Dhoni has not only been calm and composed in the middle-order for Chennai Super Kings but has also reinstated his value as a firefighter. He time and again rescued the franchise from precarious positions after a top-order collapse and has been the standout player for the Men in Yellow.
Encouragingly, Dhoni has shown that he still has it in him to fire at the death in one-on-one battles with the bowler. He has arrested collapses more than once this season and has four scores above 30 in the five times that he has had to bat. His death overs batting seems to have found the mojo of old and that might just be the biggest takeaway for this Indian side as they head to England. Behind the stumps, Dhoni let go of a chance in the close finish against Rajasthan Royals but has otherwise been his brilliant self.
Mat - 7 Runs - 222 Avg - 37.0 SR - 166.9 Catches - 10 Stumpings - 3
Despite racking up 222 runs at an average of 37 and a terrific strike rate of 166.9, Rishabh Pant has had to cope criticism for the manner in which he has thrown his wickets away. After a match-winning 78* against Mumbai Indians to kick start his season, Pant's batting under pressure has come under scrutiny.
He did make two more scores in excess of 30 but in all of the four run-chases Delhi Capitals have played so far, Pant has thrown his wicket away after the 17th over. Twice his dismissals have triggered collapses with one match ending in a tie (vs Kolkata Knight Riders) and the other seeing Delhi lose by 14 runs (vs Kings XI Punjab).
The temperament concerns surrounding Pant continue to be bothersome but he has been piling on the runs unlike Dinesh Karthik and is the second highest run-scorer in the IPL since the beginning of last season. He has also taken 10 catches and effected three stumpings (the most in any season in IPL). Pant has pulled off a couple of brilliant catches behind the stumps already and his overhead catching, in particular, has been commendable.
Mat - 7 Runs - 149 SR - 183.9 Wickets - 6 Eco - 10.34
Hardik Pandya has shown that he could be India's saviour for their strike rate issues in the death overs. His cameos in the final stages of the innings have regularly salvaged Mumbai Indians and the ferocious striker will hope to carry that form to the World Cup. In three of the seven times he has batted, Pandya has bludgeoned attacks at a strike rate in excess of 200.
With the ball, he has been used as a partnership breaker and a death overs bowler and while the latter has affected his economy rate - a concerning 10.34 this season - Hardik has shown that he can be a handy fifth bowler to have. He might still be some way away from giving 10 overs every game, but with Jadhav in the mix, he may not need to either.
Mat - 6 Runs - 131 SR - 131.0 Wickets - 0 Eco - 8.66
Batting behind an outrageous opening pair of David Warner and Johnny Bairstow is never easy. Despite starting off the season with an unbeaten 40 off 24 balls against Kolkata Knight Riders and a 15-ball 35 against Rajasthan Royals, Shankar has seen his numbers take a hit in the latter half of the season.
He has failed to resuscitate a faltering Sunrisers middle-order despite being among the highest averaging batsmen in the history of the league (an IPL average of 40.36). Shankar, though, had done enough prior to the IPL in ODIs to warrant a place in that World Cup squad. He will look to end the IPL on a high to seal a spot in the starting line-up for the World Cup.
Mat - 7 Wickets - 7 Eco - 5.5 Runs - 24 SR - 100.0
Jadeja has enjoyed the slow surfaces Chennai have dished out at home and has been mighty effective in the middle-overs bowling in tandem with Imran Tahir. The left-arm spinner has been containing and wicket-taking and for the first time since his debut season, has enjoyed an economy under 6 in the IPL.
He has also been called upon more regularly by Dhoni this IPL. In the seven games played, Jadeja has bowled 26 out of the maximum 28 overs possible. He has gone wicketless only twice so far in this season and could well be a potent weapon for Chennai as the pitches slow down further. His performances warrant a place in the World Cup squad but with Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal certainties, his inclusion might depend upon the combination India want to carry to England.
Mat - 7 Wickets - 8 Eco - 7.01 Avg - 23.37
Death bowling remains Bumrah's USP and with his unwavering consistency in the format, the Mumbai seamer has once again been a force to reckon with. He won a Man of the Match award early in the season against Royal Challengers Bangalore for his 3/20 but hasn't taken more than one wicket in a match since then.
Bumrah, though, has been effective in the death. This season, teams are looking to play him out in the final few overs. Bumrah's lack of wickets is primarily due to this approach but of slight concern is the fact that the seamer hasn't been very effective in the Powerplay overs with the new ball.
Mat - 8 Wickets - 10 Eco - 8.78 Avg - 28.1
The leader of the pace attack at Kings XI Punjab, Shami has carried his good form from the limited-overs games in 2019 to the IPL. With the Mohali surface suiting his tastes, Shami has been effective upfront with pace and bounce. His economy of 8.78 remains a concern this IPL but he is the fourth highest wicket-taker this season with 10 wickets in 8 matches.
Having developed a slow bouncer and handy pace and length variations, Shami has shown he can step up in the death overs too. His performances in the final few overs for Kings XI this year should excite the Indian management. His wicket-taking skills were never in doubt and if the seamer can find a way to control the run-rate, he will be a dynamic force in England.
Mat - 6 Wickets - 3 Eco - 8.82 Avg -67.66
Bhuvneshwar Kumar has had a horrendous IPL so far despite leading Sunrisers Hyderabad in most matches. The swing bowler hasn't been his normal self in the Powerplay or death overs and on good batting surfaces in Hyderabad, has leaked runs aplenty. In the six matches played so far, Bhuvneshwar has taken just 3 wickets while conceding runs at an economy of 8.82.
Even more concerning is the manner in which his death bowling has gone for a toss. When smashed all around the park by Sanju Samson in the game against Rajasthan Royals, Bhuvneshwar appeared to have been affected by lack of confidence. His knuckle balls, slower variations, and yorkers have been far from effective this IPL and we might see him warm the bench a lot this World Cup if he cannot turn his form around in the latter half of the IPL.
The fourth seamers (Siddharth Kaul, Umesh Yadav, Khaleel Ahmed, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini)
While India aren't certain of carrying a fourth seamer aside from Bumrah, Shami and Bhuvneshwar, of the few recent options India have tried in ODIs, none have impressed in this IPL season. The likes of Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Siraj have been shoddy at RCB, leaking runs at 8.92 and 9.47 respectively. Siddharth Kaul has six wickets in as many matches for Sunrisers Hyderabad but an economy of 8.43 and lack of telling performances in the death has affected his chances.
Dark horse: A dark horse for the fourth seamer's spot is Navdeep Saini. The impressive RCB seamer has four wickets this season while bowling at an economy of 7.5. He has also bowled the second most number of dot balls this season in the IPL (after Deepak Chahar) while bowling five deliveries in excess of 150kmph.
Mat - 7 Wickets - 3 Eco - 7.65 Avg - 66.3
An average of 66.3 sums up Kuldeep Yadav's IPL season. The chinaman spinner seems to have lost his effectiveness in picking up wickets in the middle overs with even the overseas players playing him with conviction. A slight positive for Kuldeep was the manner in which he bowled a terrific final over to enforce a tie in the match against Delhi Capitals.
Aside from that one match, Kuldeep has been plain ineffective for Kolkata Knight Riders this season. His economy is within acceptable modern T20 standards but the lack of wickets should worry the Indian think-tank. His performances had spiralled downwards in the ODIs leading up to the IPL too. Kuldeep needs a confidence booster before the World Cup and will hope to make an impact in the second half of the IPL season.
Mat - 7 Wickets - 11 Eco - 7.07 Avg - 18.0
If Kuldeep has been ineffective, his wrist spin twin, Yuzvendra Chahal, has enjoyed a fabulous season so far with Royal Challengers Bangalore, who have won just one of their seven matches so far. The leg-spinner, with eleven wickets, is the second highest wicket-taker this season in the IPL. He has also bowled at an impressive economy of 7.07 and has been one of the few positives for RCB this year.
Chahal's effectiveness against big hitters in the middle phase of the innings makes him a captain's go-to bowler. Ideally, the kind of performances he has put up this IPL should see him make the ODI starting XI on a regular basis. 39.88% of the balls he has bowled this season have been dots. Combine this with a strike rate of 15.27 and you have a match-winning limited-overs bowler.