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IPL 2024: What bowlers need in their arsenal to counter Impact Player threat

IPL 2024: Impact Player rule has added a new dimension to IPL where batters have become more dominant. What bowlers need to do to encounter this?

IPL 2024: Impact Player rule has impacted best of the bowlers this season; Mitchell Starc leaking runs at 11.78 | Walking Wicket (Images_ ©BCCI_IPLT20)
Impact Player rule has impacted best of the bowlers this season (Images: ©BCCI/IPLT20)

The Impact Player rule was incorporated in the Indian Premier League (IPL) to add to the entertainment quotient and get audience hooked deeper. The rule gives teams a fair chance to bring in a player to restore balance to the side and allows teams to make a tactical change, per demands.

Bowlers however still had the restriction on how many overs they could bowl. The team could add to the variety of bowling attack but couldn’t overhaul the stipulated quota of bowling overs. There is a little more freedom for the batters due to the cushion of an extra batter deep down the order.

T20: The batter’s format

T20 cricket has always been skewed in favour of the batters in comparison to other formats. The same is substantiated by the greater effectiveness of impact batters over impact bowlers in the IPL. The bowlers are getting thrashed left, right and centre while the batters gain heavily with their aggressive intent.

International marquee bowlers like Mitchell Starc, Mohammad Siraj, Reece Topley, Kagiso Rabada, Lockie Ferguson, Rashid Khan etc. have excelled in international matches, scalping wickets, restricting runs during the crucial overs, resulting as match winners. To the flipside, in IPL 2024, they have been hit vehemently for 20-30 runs in an over. Starc’s economy of 11.79 is only better than Anrich Nortje (13.36) among pacers who have bowled at least 15 overs this season. 

250+ totals: The new norm

Before 2024 edition, there were only two 250-plus totals, one way back in 2013 when Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) raked up 263/5 against Pune Warriors India (PWI) and the other one in 2023 when Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) scored 257/5 versus Punjab Kings (PBKS). In 2024, there have been 8 totals of more than 250, with Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) leading the way with three. Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have a pair of 250-plus scores to their credit. Delhi Capitals (DC), Punjab and Bengaluru have a solitary 250+ score each.

In 2024, SRH created a mammoth record of 125 runs in powerplay against DC, other teams have also looked to attack and score around 85-100 runs in the first 6 overs. In this edition, the teams have breached the 85+ mark 6 times in powerplay overs in 48 matches till date. Surprisingly between 2008-2013, the 85+ run mark was contravened 6 times equaling 2024 season’s tally with almost half the number of matches yet to be played. The bowlers have conceded 50+ runs in the 48 matches for 39 times. That’s disappointing numbers especially when the bowlers in the most competitive T20 league are from the top creamy layer of international players.

Jasprit Bumrah has taken 14 wickets this season _ Walking Wicket (Images_ ©BCCI_IPLT20)
Bumrah maintains the best Economy rate in pacers this season (Images: ©BCCI/IPLT20)
Keys to countering the Impact Player rule

Former India head coach Ravi Shastri believes that bowlers need to back their strengths, bowl in right areas and stop experimenting. He strongly put forth his opinion via a post on his official X account, “Cut the whinging and mourning.” RR pacer Avesh Khan also stated, “You can’t complaint about wickets, Impact Player rule and small boundaries. There is no point in hunting for excuses.”

The bowlers need to back their skillset, bowl in the right areas, look to attack the stumps and stay disciplined with their technique. They need to strive for a perfect balance between their mindset, the conditions the pitch is offering and execution as per proper assessment and meticulous planning. They need to ponder ahead of the batters to completely outsmart them and poise an even bat and ball contest. The bowlers have been allowed to bowl two bouncers per over and nailing those bouncers in the right areas of the pitch with precision can intimidate the batters.

The likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Trent Boult, Sandeep Sharma, Kuldeep Yadav etc. have performed exceptionally well in this edition unfazed by the Impact Player rule. Bumrah’s economy of 6.4 alongside topping the purple cap charts with 14 wickets proves his belief in proper execution of his skills and strengths. Teams like Rajasthan Royals (RR) and Punjab Kings have both conceded just one 200+ score each. 

The way forward

The IPL governing council is not too keen to discontinue the Impact Player rule unless there is a huge uproar or dissent regarding the same.  It’s not that every bowler is getting hit for runs and allowing the batters to free their arms against them. There are very few bowlers who didn’t perform per their reputation. Since IPL is a long tournament, the bowlers need to forget about the past and elevate themselves putting up inspiring bowling spells in the final phase where the race to playoffs get more intense. 

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