Sport

IPL UPDATE

A peek at South Africa’s showings in the Indian Premier League so far

A peek at South Africa’s showings in the Indian Premier League so far
Faf du Plessis would be an asset to the Proteas in T20I cricket, based on his form in the IPL. (Photo: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

The IPL final is scheduled for a week prior to the commencement of the T20 World Cup in June. South African form in the former is vital for the national team’s chances in the latter.

The two-month long Indian Premier League has passed the halfway stage and the South Africans participating look in fine form, a good omen as the men’s T20 World Cup approaches. 

This year’s IPL has been particularly high-scoring this season — five of the six highest team totals ever have been scored this season — and there have been a few South African batters responsible for that.

Sunrisers Hyderabad — who have twice set the highest-ever totals of 287 and 277 this season — employ Heinrich Klaasen and Aiden Markram in the core of their lineup. 

Klaasen is arguably the form batter in white-ball cricket in the world. It has been either feast or famine for the destructive middle-order hitter so far in the IPL. 

The wicketkeeper batter has three scores over 50, all coming in double-quick time, while in his other five knocks he has two single digit scores, plus an undefeated 10, a 15 and a knock of 24. 

Klaasen’s Sunrisers teammate, Markram has been the glue that has held the explosive lineup together. The current national team T20I skipper has not had his own time in the sun yet — only crossing 50 once — operating mainly as a foil for the batters around him.

Read more in Daily Maverick: T20 World Cup heats up for Proteas as SA20 performances come under the spotlight

Heinrich Klaasen, batting for the Proteas earlier this season, has been in superb form in the IPL. (Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

Exiled former Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis has been in fine nick at the top of the order for the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), despite his side occupying the wooden spoon position. 

The RCB captain has the second most runs among South Africans in the tournament, just behind Klaasen.

Du Plessis has not represented the Proteas since 2021, and while it looks unlikely that he will make a return at this stage, the option of an experienced opener in tidy form will be available at least. 

Inconsistent

Quinton de Kock has been inconsistent for the Lucknow Super Giants, but has shown signs of being close to his best. De Kock has three half-centuries but has struggled to get going outside of those knocks.

Unusually, he has not donned the gloves this season, and has instead found himself in the outfield while his skipper KL Rahul takes control behind the stumps.

Delhi Capitals’ Tristan Stubbs has for the first time this season been given a long run of opportunities in the IPL, and the long-levered big-hitter has more than taken his chance. 

The 23-year-old has an impressive strike-rate of 192.30 in eight knocks. He has only been dismissed four times, carrying his bat in breathtaking knocks the other four occasions. 

He has also added another string to his bow, picking up two wickets with his gentle off-spin bowling.

An undisclosed injury kept Gujarat Titans’ David Miller out of action for a few matches as he was scratching around for runs. But the finisher smacked a 23-ball 55 on Wednesday, registering his first half-century of the campaign, to get back on track.

Kagiso Rabada, bowling here for the Lions during a CSA T20 Challenge match against the Titans, has struggled in the IPL. Most bowlers have. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

Struggling bowlers

On the bowling front, the standout picks have been a lot slimmer. While the favourable batting has helped the batters exhibit their full array of skills, the bowlers, naturally, have been clubbed to every corner of the stadiums.

Only stalwart Kagiso Rabada has found any sort of consistency — in playing time and performance — in an underperforming Punjab Kings side. Rabada has picked up 10 wickets at a respectable economy of 8.53, while the rest of his teammates have been fed to the dogs.

Mumbai Indians’ Gerald Coetzee has found success in the wickets column, but has struggled to keep his economy under 10 consistently. The express quick is among the top wicket-takers with 12, but his economy of 10.10 — the second highest among the top 10 — is a slight concern.

South Africa’s stalwart spinner Keshav Maharaj’s first stint in the IPL has been successful so far. Although he has found playing time limited, with the Rajasthan Royals employing two premier national team spinners in Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravichandran Ashwin.

In two outings, Maharaj has been his tidy self, going at a brilliant economy of 6.50.

Some concern for Cricket South Africa might be the form of death-bowling ace Anrich Nortje. Nortje only recently returned from a long-term back injury, but has struggled to regain the form that made him such a threat. 

While his pace is up, his accuracy and variations have left a lot to be desired at this point.

There is a week between the final of the IPL and the start of the T20 World Cup, held in the Caribbean and US. The form of the core of the side in the IPL is therefore integral in the Proteas’ chances of lifting a maiden World Cup trophy. DM

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