IPL 2024: Virat Kohli’s sweep to the million dollar babies – Here’s a look at the season’s takeaways

As another edition of the Indian Premier League came to an end on Sunday, so did a season that underwent changes in the record books, technologies, leadership, and strategies.

Also read: Data check: At IPL 2024, a look at the new records for most sixes, centuries scored and more

Established players like Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Mitchell Starc, and Virat Kohli played a significant role in shaping the outcome of matches while several young players like Abhishek Sharma, Riyan Parag, Nitish Kumar Reddy and Sai Sudharshan made their mark and earned recognition.

Table toppers Kolkata Knight Riders earned their third title while Sunrisers Hyderabad finished as runners-up on the day that mattered. But in a season that comprised over 70 matches, there was a lot that happened.

Here’s a look at the key takeaways from IPL 2024:

Impact player rule

The impact player rule has added an interesting dimension to the cash rich league but it has complicated things for bowlers and all-rounders. The rule, introduced in 2023, permitted teams to substitute a player – be it a batter or a bowler – mid-innings based on the evolving dynamics of the match. This rule fundamentally means teams have a greater depth of batters in their line-up.

The 2024 season leaned heavily towards batters as teams became more audacious about batting. The previous mark for highest innings total in the Indian Premier League was breached thrice by Sunrisers Hyderabad alone.

Also read: Boundaries and impact: The imbalance in IPL 2024 shows it is not a good time to be a bowler

Teams would knock down big chases with ease and we saw players score centuries more frequently. As a result of the extra batter though, there was less room for bowlers to influence matches and they were left with lesser respite despite a solid start with the ball.

Similarly, specialist skill-sets were preferred over multi-faceted all-rounders who saw reduced opportunities and game time. As a result, batters who could bowl didn’t end up bowling that much, essentially thwarting their development as all-rounders.

Also read: All-round development: The Impact player rule is holding back several multifaceted players in IPL bowler

Million dollar babies

The pressure of the price-tag is a big talking point in the IPL. After auctions, players that have caused teams to splurge the big bucks are looked at more closely. This season’s costliest buys were Australians Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins. They both featured in the final and proved to be crucial in their team’s campaign.

While Starc had an underwhelming start in the league stage, he turned it on for Kolkata Knight Riders when it mattered and delivered player-of-the-match winning performances in Qualifier 1 and in the final.

Meanwhile, Cummins did a commendable job of marshalling the Sunrisers Hyderabad who had undergone a leadership change this season and ended up as the team’s second leading wicket-taker and ninth overall with 18 wickets in 16 matches.

Virat Kohli sweeps season

For all the talk about Virat Kohli’s prowess in T20s, he ended up as the leading run-scorer of the league with 741 runs in 15 matches with an average of 61.75 and strike rate of 154.70. In the process, he scored five half-centuries and a century.

Initially criticised for slowing down against spinners, Kohli seemed to improve his game and his strike-rate as he brought out the slog and sweep shots more often. During the season, he had taken cognizance of the criticism and hit back at it even with words.

“All the people who talk about strike rates and me not playing spin well are the ones who love talking about this stuff,” Kohli said after his 70* off 44 against Gujarat Titans. “But for me, it’s just about winning the game for the team,”

Youngsters shine

Young talents captured a significant portion of the spotlight, despite the presence of the bigger names.

Among the young domestic talents, Abhishek Sharma, Riyan Parag and Sai Sudharshan had seasons to remember as they all appeared amongst the Top 10 leading run-scorers.

Sharma was crucial in Sunrisers Hyderabad’s batting dominance this season as he complemented the explosive batting of Travis Head. The 23-year-old opener scored 484 runs in 16 matches and stood at No 10 in the standings. He also scored the most sixes this season (42).

Similarly, Parag had a breakout season and stood at No 3 in the list of run-scorers with 573 runs in 16 matches at an average of 52.09. He was also Rajasthan Royals’ leading run-scorer for the season.

Sai Sudharsan stands at No 6, having scored 527 runs in 12 matches at an average of 47.91 and finished as the leading run-scorer for Gujarat Titans.

Captains’ report card

Shreyas Iyer topped the class as he ended up with the trophy but there were several new captains for franchises – Pat Cummins for Sunrisers Hyderabad, Shubman Gill for Gujarat Titans, Ruturaj Gaikwad for Chennai Super Kings and Hardik Pandya for Mumbai Indians.

Cummins, the Australia captain, upheld his reputation as a seasoned and successful skipper as he led Sunrisers to the finals.

Pandya, who has led Gujarat Titans to a title and a final in his two season with them, did not have a great homecoming at the Mumbai Indians as they finished with the wooden spoon.

Gill, meanwhile, also did not have a very good outing as captain as GT finished eighth.

Even though players were often spotted taking advice from former captain MS Dhoni, Chennai Super Kings skipper Gaikwad was seen coming into his own as the league progressed.

He also did not let the responsibility diminish his returns with the bat as he was the second highest run-scorer of the season with 583 runs in 14 matches at an average of 53.

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