With a number of pitches in the competition defying their usual character this year, assessing conditions quickly has been a challenge for teams in the IPL, according to the Rising Pune Supergiant coach Stephen Fleming.
In his column in the Times of India, Fleming has written that conditions in some grounds have been more difficult to bat in than in previous seasons, leading to a better balance between bat and ball. He took the example of Rising Pune defending 160 to beat Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium.
“Conditions have not been traditional this season,” Fleming wrote. “Bangalore, for example, is a low-scoring ground. Mumbai was very dry, with not a lot of dew, while Kolkata produced a seaming wicket, with quite a bit of pace and bounce.
“Therefore, the key this year is to read the conditions and play accordingly. So even though people may have expected us to score more than we did against Mumbai, 160 on that pitch was a challenging total. The expectations of fans may be based on past years but this edition of the IPL has seen the world’s best players struggle to score at the death.
“That means one of two things – either the bowling has been extremely good or the conditions aren’t easy to score in, particularly when the ball gets old. I feel the balanced competition is a good thing, instead of 190-200 every time. The best T20 games are often the low-scoring ones.”
Rising Pune’s win at the Wankhede came a day after Kolkata Knight Riders defended 131 to win an even more low-scoring game at the Eden Gardens, where Royal Challengers Bangalore slid to 49 all out, the lowest-ever IPL total. According to Jacques Kallis, the Kolkata Knight Riders coach, the scores were a reflection of poor batting techniques rather than a particularly diabolical pitch.
“There was absolutely nothing ‘wrong’ with the pitch for that match,” Kallis wrote in his Times of India column. “There was a little bit more pace and bounce than the average Indian pitch – and certainly more than there used to be at the Gardens – but nothing that a decent technique couldn’t handle.
“In truth, it was a poor batting display from both teams.”
Rising Pune and Kolkata Knight Riders meet on Wednesday evening at the MCA Stadium in Pune. Knight Riders are second on the table with five wins from seven matches, while Rising Pune are fourth with four wins in seven. (ESPNCricinfo)