Analyst Kieran Parmley looks at some of the stars in the second week of the competition.
Week 2 of the IPL saw sides settling into their first choice starting XIs, with the return of previously missing international stars. However, a few newer stars have stepped up as the league begins to take shape, and we begin to see the effect of its expansion.
Shubman Gill’s Coming of Age
It was always a matter of when, rather than if, for Shubman Gill lighting up the IPL with the bat, and at the age of 22 he’s beginning to show talismanic qualities at the top of the order for his new outfit Gujarat Titans. Gill has made big scores in two of his four games so far, combining a solid game against pace bowling with the ability to tee off against spin, scoring 77 runs from just 39 balls without being dismissed against spin so far.
What’s been so impressive about Shubman Gill’s start to the season is the ease and control with which he’s made his runs, only KL Rahul rivals him when it comes to having the lowest false shot percentages among the top ten run scorers so far this season and Rahul’s strike rate sits at a meagre 128 compared to Gill’s 159. Gill has only hit 5 sixes in comparison to 18 fours and his attacking shot percentage of 59% is the lowest in the top 10 run scoring chart – there’s been no real change in attacking approach from him this season, he isn’t trying to play more aggressive shots or be more attacking, instead he’s reduced his dot ball percentage to just 21%, and in doing so manipulating the field and matchups in his favour, making batting look easy at the very highest level of T20 cricket. This may only be a sample size of four games but early signs are IPL 2022 could be the year in which we see the best of Shubman Gill’s talent at T20 level.
Hasaranga’s IPL Emergence
The emergence of international superstar Rashid Khan in the past half decade has caused somewhat of a mini-shockwave across the T20 circuit as each side goes out in pursuit for their very own next big name ‘mystery’ spinner. Wanindu Hasaranga reaped the rewards of such demand, picking up a monster 10.75 crore contract at the last IPL auction on the promise of his international pedigree producing Rashid Khan-like results for RCB at IPL level. Despite being unproven in the IPL heading into this season with just 2 IPL games under his belt, the 24-year-old has delivered in the opening four games for RCB, picking up 8 wickets at an economy rate of just 7.50rpo.
The mystery of Hasaranga’s googly is something that many right-handed batters, including Kieron Pollard, are yet to solve – since the start of 2021 he’s taken 26 wickets in T20s with his googly to right-handers picking up a wicket every 7 deliveries – a weapon that has so far continued its success in IPL 2022 with 5 of his 8 wickets coming from googly deliveries to right-handers.
Hasaranga’s fellow Sri Lankan Mahesh Theekshana making his way into the XI in CSK’s previous game increased the number of ‘frontline’ spinners aged 24-years-old or younger to six across the ten sides, with Hasaranga, Rashid Khan and Theekshana complimented by local spinners Rahul Chahar, Ravi Bishnoi and Washington Sundar. It’s not just on the field where the chase for the next Rashid Khan is under way, left arm wrist spinner Noor Ahmad was the youngest overseas IPL pickup ever at the age of just 17, purely based on his potential to replicate fellow countryman Rashid Khan.
Despite the shift from the UAE to Mumbai and Pune for this season, the importance of possessing a big name spinner hasn’t stopped with four spinners inside the top seven wicket takers in the early stages of the season, that number may just keep on rising as pitches begin to tire too, only increasing the chances of yet more young spinners making their way into an IPL XI before the season ends.
Livingstone Lights up Middle Overs
After a tricky couple of stints at Rajasthan Royals, Liam Livingstone couldn’t have asked for a better team environment to make his name at the IPL level, with the highly aggressive Punjab Kings giving the big-hitting Englishman a role in their Middle Order and asking him to do what he does best – attack.
Livingstone’s mentality during the Middle Overs(7-15) has been different to that of the rest of the league – he’s attacked 69% of the deliveries he’s faced during that period of the innings, well above the league average of 59%. What makes his attacking approach perhaps even more manic is the situations he’s found himself taking that approach in so far, with Punjab Kings losing two Powerplay wickets in 3 of their 4 matches so far this season.
Only Deepak Hooda has more runs during the Middle Overs than Livingstone’s 109, although Livingstone’s runs have come at a significantly higher strike rate of 178 – there’s definitely an argument to suggest Livingstone’s approach may not be sustainable as the season wears on, as pitches tire and opposition sides look to attack Livingstone with more and more spin but one thing seems almost certain – Livingstone and Punjab Kings’ approach with the bat won’t change…attack, attack, attack.
Hetmyer Filling the Finisher Void
Shimron Hetmyer isn’t a name that immediately springs to mind when in comes to finishers in T20 cricket, and yet the left-hander has excelled during the Death Overs in the opening couple of weeks in IPL 2022 – his 139 runs in Overs 16-20 is nearly double that of the next highest Death Overs scorer MS Dhoni (74 runs). And yet Shimron Hetmyer’s role for his new franchise is not that of a designated Death hitter, in fact his entry points this season have often come a lot early – particularly in the previous two matches, with the Rajasthan Royals top order struggling early on.
Instead of holding back Hetmyer for a later entry point in those games, he’s instead trusted to negotiate the Middle Overs before attacking at the Death – so far he’s scored 29 runs from 35 balls between Overs 7-15, attacking just 33% of deliveries whereas his 139 runs from 59 balls in Overs 16-20 have come with him attacking 81% of the balls he’s faced.
Hetmyer’s new found role as a combined Middle Overs negotiator and Death Overs finisher is hardly new, his West Indies teammates Andre Russell and Kieron Pollard have often been sent in with a similar role in mind but Hetmyer as a left-hander and with arguably a better skillset when it comes to negotiating opposition leg spinners is perhaps more suited to the role in the IPL and particularly for a Rajasthan Royals side struggling for batting depth. While the consistency of finishing the innings is volatile, allowing Hetmyer to get set and time his innings is arguably giving Hetmyer a better chance of success as opposed to asking him to hit from ball one with 15 balls to go – this could very well be another way IPL sides look to manufacture finishers in the coming years with senior designated finishers coming to the end of their playing days.