IPL 2015: Top 5 contenders for Player of the Tournament
The problem with viewing sport as a business is, you invariably miss the point of the game. That is what Delhi Daredevils must learn from a Moneyball team like Rajasthan Royals, who had an amazing winning streak at the start of the season before they disturbed the winning combination. Great games are not a matter of chance; great sportsmen produce great games.
IPL-8 is undoubtedly one of the most hotly contested editions. The winner of the game between Mumbai Indians and Sunrisers Hyderabad, for example, went to No.2 in the table, getting two cracks at reaching the final, while the loser slumped to No.6. That was how cluttered the race was right through. Interestingly, even as late as now, it is still not clear who the Player of the Tournament will be, which indicates that teams are very evenly balanced. Some teams survived on team effort alone but in most cases, there was an X-Factor who gave the final push, the turnaround the team needed.
What attributes can you attach to such players?
- Contribution to wins
- Game changing moments
- Dependence of the team on the player’s skill sets
- Actual stats
Let us look at 5 contenders for the Player of the Tournament:
Note – 1) At the time of writing this, the second qualifier and the final are yet to be played. 2) The list is in no particular order.
1. Dwayne Bravo
Chennai Super Kings, 23 wickets, 186 runs
Dwayne Bravo is not a stranger to the Purple Cap race having won it before in 2013. With 23 wickets, he is ahead this year too and looks likely to win it a second time. Bravo also has 186 runs to his name with the bat in hand, but it’s with the ball he has come more than handy for Chennai Super Kings. He picks wickets with alarming consistency. He bowls in the death overs and his slower balls are hard to get away. For someone who invariably bowls after the 15th over, his economy rate of 8.13 is a revelation. But that is not all.
Bravo produces game-changing moments in every match he plays and that is why he is the front-runner to be the Most Valuable Player (MVP) this year. A quick pickup and throw in the follow-up to get Virat Kohli that turned the match around, a stunning forward diving catch, another stunning leaping catch at the boundary, wickets to break big partnerships – you name it. In spite of it all, he is one of those few people on the field who seem to tell others that this is a game and not work. MVP all the way!
2. Mitchell Starc
Royal Challengers Bangalore, 19 wickets at 6.76 per over
RCB were floundering in their first few games when they didn’t have Mitchell Starc, who was still recovering from injury. But in the 11 innings since he has returned, he has managed quite a truckload of wickets to be in the top 5 wicket-takers of this IPL. RCB suddenly look like a strong bowling unit.
They absolutely demolished Kings XI Punjab in a league game and did the same to Rajasthan Royals in the Eliminator, in spite of the Royals boasting of a batting line-up that goes down till No.9. Starc picks wickets in every match. But that is not why he is a contender for the Player of the Tournament. Yuzvendra Chahal, after all, has 21 wickets, two more than his teammate.
But while the leg-spinner goes at 9 per over, bowling the middle overs mostly, Starc goes at a phenomenal 6.76. In other words, in most games, Starc is likely to give you a couple of wickets conceding less than 30 in his four overs – that in spite of RCB playing a couple of high-adrenaline rain-shortened games that ruin every bowler’s stats.
Starc is Virat Kohli’s go-to bowler when up against the best batsmen of the opposition. In fact, RCB boasts of the tournament’s best bowler and best batsman in Starc and AB de Villiers, the reason why they could surge out of nowhere. Starc is fast, accurate and can swing the ball, uprooting stumps with great consistency. In other words, ever since his return, Kohli hardly has had to worry about two of the last four overs – every captain’s nightmare. With an important game to come and possibly a final, Starc is still not out of the Purple Cap race either.