The IPL returns for its 11th edition this weekend. Ben Levene (@benlevene96) previews the outright market for us.
IPL 2018 | 7th April – 27th May 2018 | Sky Sports
The explosive Indian Premier League (IPL) returns for its 11th edition this weekend and while it’s frowned upon by the cricketing traditionalists, it makes a good betting heat.
The IPL consists of eight teams, whom play each other home and away in the group phase, with the top-four progressing to the play-offs after each outfit has played their 14-matches.
When tackling the outright market there are two core factors worth prioritising. Squad balance and price. In 2017, outright favourites Royal Challengers Bangalore finished bottom of the group phase. They acquired big-hitting match-winners (and the consequent egos) but lacked balance.
The nature of the IPL and regular turnover players means that while useful, historic performance is not the be all and end all. In a way, each edition is almost a separate sample. In addition, we must be aware of uncontrollable variables such as the weather and the toss.
To be honest, I have no interest in the knockout phase. That’s why I’m keen to use the exchanges with view to laying off in the future.
To begin with, I’m keen on Sunrisers Hyderabad. David Warner’s withdrawal over the ball-tampering scandal is a blow, but that’s factored into the price. It also doesn’t affect the fact they have the best bowling attack in the competition.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar took 26 wickets in the 2017 edition of the IPL, which was more than any other player. He was the tournaments top wicket-taker in 2016 too, with 23 dismissals, and 7th the year prior with 18. His retention could prove invaluable.
Having a solid spinner is often underestimated, but anyone that’s watched Rashid Khan work his magic will have been impressed. In 2017 the Afghan-born leg-spinner ranks 2nd for most wickets in T20 internationals and 3rd for ODI wickets. While you may think those numbers are flawed as he doesn’t have the talented international counter-parts to share wickets amongst, he produced averages of 10.44 and 9.41, indicating it’s no fluke. He didn’t have any issues in the IPL last year, taking the 6th most wickets in the tournament at an average of 23.41. He was also the top wicket-taker in the 2017 Big Bash League (BBL).
Whoever makes up the Hyderabad attack from Chris Jordan, Mohammed Nabi, Sandeep Sharma, Carlos Braithwaite, Shakib Al-Hasan and Basil Thampi have solid records of their own. Sharma was 7th for most wickets in the 2017 edition of the IPL while Thampi was 25th. Braithwaite has bowled over 385 T20 overs in his career and Chris Jordan has played over 30 T20 internationals for England. Bangladesh T20 captain Al-Hasan is more than adept at holding up an end with his left arm turn.
While maybe not the quickest scorers, Shikhar Dhawan and Kane Williamson are rock-solid with the bat. Dhawan has been in the top-five for runs scored in each of the last two IPL’s and the ICC’s 3rd ranked test batsman Williamson has to be respected. Alex Hales could prove a bit of a wildcard early-on in the powerplay. The aggressive opener is a bit hit and miss but is a match winner when on-song.
The impressive Hyderabad bowling-attack along with the top-three in the batting who boast a nice balance mean they’ll be in games, and I can see them performing consistently.
At a slightly bigger price Rajasthan Royals stand out. They threw money at the auction and that’s evident in the wealth of match-winners in their squad. Once again the most expensive player in the auction, Ben Stokes will bring undoubtable quality with bat and ball.
Ajinkya Rahane will captain the side in Steve Smith’s absence and with previous experience captaining India, should be able to manage the big-characters.
In the last four IPL tournaments Rahane ranks 21st, 2nd, 7th and most recently 13th for most runs, and will provide good balance as the big-hitters strut their stuff around him.
Opener D’Arcy Short could prove one of the purchases of the tournament. The Aussie top scored in the 2017 BBL and hit the tournament’s most sixes. He’ll most likely begin the innings with Rahul Tripathi who ranked 9th for runs in the 2017 tournaments, hitting seven scores of 30+ in eight innings.
Lower-down the order the explosiveness of Sanju Samson and Jos Buttler is always a threat. Samson hit the 11th most runs in last year’s tournament at a strike-rate of 141.39, which included a century and two 50’s. Buttler has hit a whopping 232 sixes across 245 T20 innings.
Whatever seam attack they go with will be capable. Jaydev Unadkat took the 2nd most wickets in last years’ competition, the same ranking that Ben Laughlin and Jofra Archer achieved in the BBL last year. Should he get himself fully up to scratch, then Stokes too has the skillset to produce the goods at the death.
Tripathi, Samson, Stokes and Buttler were all in the top 20 for sixes hit in last year’s IPL, so Rajasthan Royals should be fun to watch. Their powerful yet steady squad means they can never be dismissed in this short format.
The downside is their lack of high-class spinner, but for what it’s worth, they’re a bigger price than Kings XI Punjab who are void of a specialist T20 keeper-batsman.
IPL 2018 – Sunrisers Hyderabad (34/5 Betfair Exchange)
IPL 2018 – Rajasthan Royals (9/1 Betfair Exchange)