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Steady starts the order of the IPL

IPL6 sure has fired up right from the get-go. The world's premier T20 competition certainly has captured interest and even those who still don’t care for the product will have had the odd glance towards India I’m sure. For example, there is nothing like a superb ‘Super Over’ to steal some attention as only 12 legitimate deliveries determine the contest!

It has been interesting to note a couple of early trends that have shaped things. Four West Indies players - Gayle, Cooper, Narine and Pollard - sure made the most of each initial occasion with outstanding individual performances that steered their respective teams to maximum points.

I think we all know this form of the game is tailor-made for their distinctive style of play, but it is gratifying to see them deliver and influence outcomes. I imagine a whole host of South Africans will now steal some thunder as they touch down in India following the completion of their domestic duties.

Something else that has formed an early pattern is even more interesting in my eyes. These games are often won or lost in the first six overs or the power-play phase. Teams can explode out of the blocks with aggressive openers setting the standard - authoritative pace and impetus that is not lost for the remainder of the 20 overs.

Then, of course, the opposite can happen. T20 teams know the adage by now: ‘Losing three inside the first six equals nix.’ Simply put, if a team is three wickets down inside the power-play they have a very slim chance of victory from there.

That is the reason teams have definitely decided to be more circumspect initially when batting. This season more than any other, the IPL teams appear to have taken the decision that they must not play irresponsibly in the opening overs.

This theory has been supported by a recent tweet from respected cricket statistician Mohandas Menon (@mohanstatsman) who said: “The 40 sixes in #IPL6 is the lowest number hit after the first 7 IPL games in any edition. In IPL2011, 55 sixes were hit after 7 games. Most was 93 in 2008.”

That may well be due to the fact that one Chris Gayle was pumping the ball into the stratosphere at every opportunity upon taking guard in previous years, but there sure is something to this new strategy.

I wonder which team will be the first to take the risk to succeed and brave the power-play, engaging an early onslaught with the willow?

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