IPL 2024: What next after Hyderabad mayhem, a 300-plus total in T20s?

Insane, says Sunrisers skipper Pat Cummins, but there is a risk of such contests making the league almost boring

Heinrich Klaasen, the Orange Cap holder in IPL for now (photo: @IPL/X)
Heinrich Klaasen, the Orange Cap holder in IPL for now (photo: @IPL/X)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

The day after, there must still be a sense of shock and awe among IPL fans about what they saw last night at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad. The Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Mumbai Indians match tally of 523 runs the highest ever runs scored in one day in the IPL, but also in T20 history, beating the 517 runs in a match between South Africa and the West Indies.

A plethora of records fell by the wayside as the aggregate overtook the previous best of 469 between Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals in 2010, Sunrisers’ 277 now the highest ever total by a team in IPL history, the highest number of sixes et al. ‘Insane’ is the word victorious Sunrisers skipper Pat Cummins used, and he was spot-on.

There is no doubt that the match propelled player of the match Abhishek Sharma back into the limelight after a couple of below par seasons, while Heinrich Klaasen is emerging as arguably the most destructive overseas batter on form in the post-Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers generation.

The question doing the rounds, however, is that a 300-plus total in this format, considered impossible until the other day, is very much round the corner, but will it make the IPL any more or less fascinating?   

If cricket is a batters’ game, T20 cricket is more so, and the IPL has seen batters push numerous boundaries over the past 16 years. No one will forget the keynote set by Brendon McCullum, the founder of 'Bazball', when he slammed the unbelievable 158 not out in a Kolkata Knight Riders shirt against Royal Challengers Bangalore on the opening night of IPL 2008.

However, the evolution of the bat as a piece of equipment — not to mention some of the flattest decks on view like the one in Hyderabad yesterday — has been making a mockery of the phrase 'strike rate' for sometime now.

Just ponder this: Abhishek logged a strike rate of 273.91 en route to his 63 off 23 deliveries, Travis Head 258.33 for his 62 off 24, and Klaasen 235.29 for his unbeaten 80 off 34 deliveries. When Sunrisers lost their third and last wicket of the day at 161 in the 11th over, the tone of the match was set, and one was sorry to see someone like Gerald Coetzee finish with 4-0-57-1.

There was a time not so long ago when setting or chasing a target in the region of 200 constituted a high-scoring game, but not any more. A personal opinion this, but it does get a bit tedious watching those heaves off every delivery over 240 balls, day in and day out for almost two months of the IPL — where any nuanced contest will soon become a thing of the past.

Granted that in franchise cricket, each team will always put a premium on the likes of a Klaasen, Tim David or Phil Salt with the impact player rule, making it part of a strategy to use such power hitters effectively. However, there is still a fine line between cricket and baseball, and a somewhat more even battle between bat and ball is the need of the hour, even if it’s IPL.