Rishabh Pant

IPL 2020: The ‘MVP’ candidates

With a new decade of IPL action looming, we can now start to explore the player pool of 2020, identifying potential MVPs and top-scorers. Who will justify their value over the coming months?

IPL’s most valuable

By dint of
his all-rounder status, Glenn Maxwell enters 2020 as the IPL’s most valuable
batsman. The Australian star joined Kings XI Punjab for Rs 10.75 crore, and
represents something of a gamble, having developed a reputation for having less
batting consistency than many cheaper homegrown talents.

he can often clear boundaries under immense pressure in a way that few IPL
imports can, and has the natural ability to single-handedly push the Kings XI
into the playoffs for what would be just the third time in a dozen IPL seasons.

In the bowling
department, meanwhile, Pat Cummins is now the MVP in terms of the investment
made by Kolkata Knight Riders, with his auction price (Rs 15.5 crore) beating
that of Ben Stokes’ 2017 value by Rs 1 crore – still a significant margin, even
after inflation. As of January 2020, he sits at the summit of
bowler rankings in Test cricket.

Player pool – frontrunners analysed

When it comes to predicting outcomes in both matchday and outright contexts
for the IPL – with the IPL most valuable player 2020 stakes
falling inside the latter category – a diverse array of factors are
used. As such, though they are only marginally favoured by cricket experts
over the remainder of the league at present, the early signs are
that HyderabadChennai and
champions Mumbai will be the frontrunners for glory.

Hyderabad aiming to be less reliant on
‘Bairstow-Warner axis’

Of the
aforementioned trio, it is arguably Sunrisers Hyderabad who capture the
imagination with particular zeal. For the purists, the left and right-handed
batting partnership of colonial cousins David Warner and Jonny Bairstow broke
every convention of opening order protocol.

The rest
is history, and Warner screamed like a rocket to the summit of the top scorers
table, outstripping the second-placed K. L. Rahul of Kings XI Punjab by 99
whole runs. Bairstow’s famous power-hitting also gave Hyderabad an
unprecedented fear factor, but if both men were to suffer early
dismissals, the game plan would unravel.

In the context
of addressing that issue of squad depth short-term, the arrival of marquee
signing Fabian Allen is a sign of real ambition. Allen’s reputation as a
spinner with the ability to adapt his style – and douse even the most
established opposing top-order partnerships before they get ‘hot’ – appears to
have rubbished any claims that Hyderabad did not do themselves justice at the
most recent IPL auction.

Mumbai tough to topple despite quiet auction

As for the
reigning champions Mumbai Indians, the close-season saw a relatively
conservative approach to the transfer auction. Nonetheless, reinforcement in
the top order was still needed in order to keep pace with Chennai and Hyderabad
in the coming season. Chris Lynn’s arrival was a seamless process, and his abilities
on the flat-track are without equal under the right conditions, even if he is
occasionally vulnerable to the spin.

With Lynn’s inclusion alongside the often-unstoppable partnership Quinton de Kock and Rohit Sharma, the Indians’ standing as favourites to retain the title is self-evident. De Kock was particularly merciless, standing amongst the top catches list in 2018 and making the top three of last season’s batting leaderboard:

Chennai ‘dynasty’ emerging with Chawla arrival

Super Kings’ pool of players is a well-settled one that errs more on the side
of experience, in the view of those who value a perfectly-even balance of old
and young. MS Dhoni remains easily the most influential Indian cricketer since
Sachin Tendulkar, and despite expectations of a decline given his advancing
age, there is not one Kings fan who would prefer to enter the new season
without him.

approach which has caught the eye is the prospect of a ‘dynasty’ within the
Chennai ranks, established by the signing of Piyush Chawla in December. Having
already taken 150 IPL wickets, 30-year old Chawla is ten years the junior of
2019’s top wicket-taker Imran Tahir, and while Chawla himself is an established
professional, Tahir is the man who – alongside Dhoni – can help to inspire him
to reach the very top.

One to watch

In the
aftermath of a disappointing semi-final last year, Hyderabad have sought to
address the issue of depth with a long-term (as well as a short-term) strategy
in mind. The Sunrisers’ first sign of moving towards this goal is their signing
of India U19 captain Priyam Garg.

the 19-year old only made his List A debut (for Uttar Pradesh) during last
season’s Vijay Hazare Trophy, and has never looked back. Also standing amongst
the highlights of Garg’s early years are a double century vs Triupura, a T20
debut for Utter Pradesh and the guarantee that he will be India’s U19 captain
for the World Cup.

As a
batsman who usually aims for the off-side, his inner-motto appears to be ‘go
big or go home’ – like Bairstow and Warner, he is in the game to score
boundaries, and play his part in seeing Hyderabad improve on their finish to

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