Posted by Gareth Parry Added on: May 21 2012
Aside from being deserved winners of the league phase they also have the Purple Cap winner, Morne Morkel, in their squad and have unearthed two outstanding Indian fast bowlers in the shape of Yadav and Aaron. They also boast one of the most powerful batting line-ups in the IPL. Sehwag made a record breaking five consecutive half centuries and Delhi also had the power hitting of first Pietersen and then Warner to take them to the top of the table.
The form of Jayawardene and Ross Taylor will have disappointed many Delhi fans with neither man hitting the lofty heights that were expected of them. Delhi have also struggled when their top order have failed and do not have as strong a middle order as they would like. They also lack a world class spinner and whilst Nadeem and Negi have performed well they will not trouble the better batsmen in the IPL the way a Murali or Narine have.
With the Purple Cap Morne Morkel is the only choice for Delhi. He finished with 25 wickets in 15 innings at an average of just 16.64. With an economy rate of 7.05 and strike rate of 14.16 he was by far the Daredevils best bowler. He was able to trouble all the batsmen he faced and used his height to extract extra bounce from placid Indian pitches. He also improved his death bowling dramatically with his penultimate over against the Rajasthan Royals, in the 39th match of the IPL 2012, demonstrating his ability to bowl devastating yorkers and win matches for his side.
The Kolkata captain, Gambhir, was instrumental in taking his side into second place in the IPL table. With 556 runs to his name, Gambhir showed Sehwag isn't the only Indian opener who can score important runs or lead his side to IPL success. Kolkata will also be pleased with how their spin bowlers have performed in the latter stages of the tournament. In Narine they have a match winning mystery bowler and Shakib and Iqbal Abdulla provided excellent support. With the wickets in the play-off's likely to favour spin the Kolkata trio may well have a serious influence on the outcome of the IPL 2012.
Gambhir aside the rest of the Kolkata batsmen have struggled. Kallis has been a long way short of his prolific best although he continues to contribute well with the ball and in the field. McCullum has also been a concern and although his form improved toward the end of the group stage he still looks vulnerable against spin with slow left arm bowlers causing him particular trouble.
Gambhir has carried Kolkata with the bat this season and for that reason would normally be the star man for the Knight Riders. However he was over shadowed by the exceptional début IPL season of Sunil Narine. His tournament statistics of 22 wickets in 13 innings at an average of 11.95 barely do him justice. He was also the most economical bowler (to bowl a significant number of overs) in the IPL 2012. In a season which included three Man of the Match performances he found turn and bounce on most of the surfaces he played on and not even the great batsmen that faced him could pick his variations. His stock off break gets a surprising amount of turn which makes his variations that spin the other way all the more dangerous. He has not yet made his test match début but if he continues to impress then it won't be long before he is bowling with the red ball in white clothes.
The Mumbai Indians have an exceptional bowling line-up which includes several regulars for the Indian national side. They have bowled well as a unit and taken plenty of wickets with a good overall economy rate. Malinga, as always, was the stand out in their bowling line-up. The batting of Rohit Sharma has also been a big positive for them with Sharma working hard to shake of the tag of underachiever that has followed him for the last few years. His hundred against Kolkata at the Eden Gardens was his best innings of the tournament but his most important was a match winning 73 against Deccan in only the 9th match of the IPL 2012. He snatched a smash and grab victory for Mumbai, with a last ball 6, to set their season going. This highlighted another positive for Mumbai which was their ability to win the tight games and pull off miraculous chases.
Mumbai have struggled to find an opening partnership that works with 8 combinations tried in just 16 matches. Tendulkar and Smith will be virtual certainties to open in the Eliminator with their record opening stand but that was in a dead rubber against a Rajasthan attack that might as well have been on the plane already. The captains form will also be a concern with Harbhajan rarely bowling his full quota of overs towards the end of the tournament and not taking the number of wickets a bowler of his class expects.
The star man for Mumbai this season was Lasith Malinga. He is probably the finest Twenty20 bowler there is and he produced another excellent season for Mumbai. He finished with 22 wickets at an average of 14.05. The most astonishing thing about Malinga is his economy rate, which was 6 runs per over this year. He bowls in both the power play and death overs and yet is one of the most economical bowlers in the tournament. His combination of deadly yorkers, raw pace, excellent variations and well directed short balls coupled with his unique action make him head and shoulders above any other performer in the Mumbai side.
By their own high standards it is difficult to find too much that stands out in the Chennai performances this year. A notable exception is Françoise du Plessis who started the tournament wonderfully well as Mike Hussey's replacement although he has fallen away since Hussey's return. Another positive has been Dwayne Bravo who has impressed with bat, ball and in the field. His biggest contribution was to seal a last ball win against Kolkata in the 63rd match of the IPL with a 6 with five runs required.
Sadly for Chennai fans there is much more to write about here. Murali Vijay, who has improved in the latter stages of the tournament, endured a torrid time in CSK's first few matches which resulted in him being dropped. The Super Kings star performers with the ball in previous seasons have also come up short with Bollinger and Ashwin in particular not hitting the heights they have in previous IPL's. Another player to mention is Jadeja who put in a few good performances but has failed to justify his oft mentioned $2,000,000 price tag. Finally, by his own enormously high standards, MS Dhoni has had a poor season with the bat with Chennai suffering because of it.
Françoise du Plessis is the man who impressed most for Chennai. Opening the batting in place of Hussey was always going to be a difficult task but his return of 398 runs from 12 innings was an excellent effort. With a top score of 73 and three half centuries in total he was a more than able replacement with his performances earning him the attention of the South African selectors who are looking toward the World T20 tournament in September.