The thirteenth Indian Premier League (IPL) has concluded in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) despite the Covid-19 threat.
This was the second time in the history of the IPL that the tournament took place outside India. The first was in South Africa in 2008 because the event clashed with national elections in India. This time it was because of the high Covid-19 infection rate in India.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) must be congratulated for successfully staging the IPL during these difficult times in the world. The games were played in empty stadiums, but the strategic placing of advertisements, banners with crowds and the audio surround-sound ensured that the atmosphere was outstanding. The IPL is known for huge spectator attendances and these innovations went a long way to making the tournament a true spectacle. The television viewership was not negatively affected because of the lack of crowds and was higher than expected.
There is talk that the IPL will revert to its normal window in 2021 and the BCCI hope to stage it in India. However, if this is not possible because of Covid-19, the UAE with its three world-class venues will once again be an outstanding alternative.
The Mumbai Indians (MI) won back-to-back titles and have now won the IPL five times. Chennai Super Kings (CSK) have won the IPL three times. MI have now become the most successful IPL team and they have also taken over from CSK as the team with the highest profile.
MI dominated the tournament by winning 11 of their 16 matches and easily defeating the Delhi Capitals in the final. They were comfortably better than the rest of the teams who were evenly matched when one has a look at the final log positions.
South Africa had 11 players participating in the IPL. Six of them were given good game time and contributed to the success of their teams.
Quinton de Kock played a big part in the MI success. Opening the batting, he scored 503 runs at an average of 35,92 and a strike rate of 140,50. Kagiso Rabada was the star of the IPL, ending with the purple cap (most wickets). He took 30 wickets, which was only two short of the record held by Dwaine Bravo. His teammate, Anrich Nortje, enjoyed a successful first IPL taking 22 wickets. Between them they played a big role in Delhi Capitals making the final.
For Royal Challengers Bangalore AB de Villiers again showed his genius by scoring 454 at an average of 45,50 and a strike rate of 158,74. His South African teammate, Chris Morris, played in only 9 matches due to injury but made an impact with the ball taking 11 wickets with an economy rate of 6,63, one of the lowest in the tournament. Former South African captain, Faf du Plessis, enjoyed a good IPL for CSK scoring 449 runs at an average of 40,81 with strike rate of 140,75.
For the rest, the South Africans received limited opportunities: Lungi Ngidi 4 matches, Imran Tahir 3 matches, David Miller 1 match and Dale Steyn 3 matches. Hardus Viljoen never played a match.
The one concern is that Eric Simons was the only South African coach involved in a senior coaching capacity at the IPL, being the assistant coach to Stephen Fleming at CSK. Coaches play a big role in which players are contracted, a fact that once again was proven by the number of Australian coaches and players. If South African coaches are not appointed in future, it will be difficult for South African players to be contracted.