Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen aim for place in IPL finale after batting blitz

Sunrisers Hyderabad's Aiden Markram hit out during the Indian Premier League. Picture: R.Satish Babu / AFP

Sunrisers Hyderabad's Aiden Markram hit out during the Indian Premier League. Picture: R.Satish Babu / AFP

Published May 24, 2024


The batting blitz in the Indian Premier League this year has divided fans and players and triggered debate ahead of the World Cup about what it means for Twenty20 cricket.

The moneybags IPL reaches its conclusion on Sunday in Chennai, the last act of a campaign where batters have dominated like never before.

Sunrisers Hyderabad, who face Rajasthan Royals on Friday for a place in the final, have twice broken the IPL scoring record this term with innings of 277 and 287.

Proteas stars Aiden Markram and Heinrich Klaasen have played a big part in the Sunrisers Hyderabad success with the bat, while Australia’s Travis Head has also gone big in this year’s tournament.

Veteran cricket journalist Ayaz Memon told AFP the big scores in the IPL over the past two months were taking something away from the game.

"People love to watch sixes and fours," Memon said.

"But beyond that they also like a good contest."

The impact player rule - and smarter use of it - has been pinpointed as the biggest reason for the skyscraper totals in the 17th edition of the IPL.

It will not be in play at the World Cup, which begins in just over a week's time in the United States and West Indies.

The concept was introduced last year in the IPL and allows the replacement of a player named in the starting team at any point after the toss.

The rule allows teams batting first to play an extra big-hitting batsman down the order, who can then be replaced by a bowler when they field.

Alternatively a bowler can be replaced if they bat second.

Opponents of the rule say it has upset the fine balance between batter and bowler that gives cricket its drama.

Flatter IPL pitches and shorter boundaries have also played a part, pundits say.

Bowlers have found it particularly tough to stop the batting onslaught in the first six overs of powerplay when only two fielders are allowed outside the inner circle.

"If it gets too lopsided in favour of batsmen because of the nature of pitches and shorter boundaries, then it can get a little predictable -- in that the bowlers have a reduced role," Memon said.

He noted that even Virat Kohli - who leads the tournament batting charts with 741 runs for Royal Challengers Bengaluru - said "there needs to be a balance between bat and ball".

New trend?

Young stars including Australia's Jake Fraser-McGurk (Delhi Capitals) and England's Will Jacks (Bengaluru) have made hay in this IPL with punishing strike rates of over 234 and 175 respectively.

India's premier spin bowler Ravichandran Ashwin says pinning the big innings this season solely on the impact sub rule is doing batsmen a disservice.

"Even if the impact player rule wasn't there, scores would be this high," Ashwin, of Rajasthan Royals, was quoted saying this week.

"In my opinion, batters have more confidence and pitches everywhere have been standardised."

He added: "In the future, all bowlers will need to be hitters because we know that no matter how well we bowl, we also need to be able to bat.

"The game is headed in that direction."

But many players and pundits say it is too early to say whether the big-hitting trend will extend to T20 cricket beyond this IPL.

Australia's veteran opening batsman David Warner does not foresee a run-fest at the World Cup, and not just because there will be no impact sub rule.

Warner says the pitches in the West Indies in particular will have something for the bowlers.

"They can be slower and they're gonna turn a bit," Warner, 37, told reporters last month, leaning on his experience in the Caribbean Premier League.

He added: "It's gonna be completely different there. Add the natural elements as well. They're going to be predominantly day games, I think, because of the timings.

"So that plays a big factor."