IPL 2020: The men who have set the stage alight
KL Rahul, David Warner, Shikhar Dhawan, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Devdutt Padikkal and many others have been impressive
For someone who had many question marks in his mind and underwent nightmares and fears about his batting during the lockdown in India, those furrowed brows turned into a bit of a smile for KL Rahul.
The Karnataka batsman broke those shackles, quite literally, and was on song in the UAE. His sound technique hadn’t deserted him. And the exquisite cover drive was still there, in fact, all the shots in the book.
And KL revelled in all three roles, those of captain, opener and wicketkeeper. His unbeaten 132 against his ‘home’ team Royal Challengers Bangalore was undoubtedly the standout as he topped the run charts. He still does with a whopping 670 runs but unfortunately for the Bangalorean, Rahul couldn’t see his side Kings XI Punjab through to the play-offs. Their dramatic upturn, after a slow-burning start, came a tad too late for Kings XI Punjab.
If there’s any consolation, Rahul has been picked in all three formats for the Australian tour and elevated to the vice-captaincy in the limited-over formats.
And David Warner seems to be in a galaxy of his own. The Australian opener, the captain of Sunrisers Hyderabad, passed 500 runs during his unbeaten 85 against the Mumbai Indians, in the last league fixture, to stroke his way to 500-plus runs for the sixth time. He amassed 692 runs last season, 641 runs in 2017, 848 runs when the Sunrisers won their maiden title in 2016, 562 in 2015 and 528 runs in 2014.
The southpaw, who has 48 fifties, the most in the IPL, is the second highest scorer this season and is third on the all-time list behind Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina of the Chennai Super Kings.
Shikhar Dhawan too is enjoying a great IPL with the Delhi Capitals southpaw having smacked back-to-back unbeaten hundreds against the Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab, to currently sit third and within touching distance of fellow left-hander Warner. Warner is on 529 runs, while Dhawan is on 525.
As far as the bowlers are concerned, Kagiso Rabada has been the benchmark in this IPL so far. The South African pace ace has snared 25 scalps and coming as it has, on the varied pitches here in the UAE, it has been all the more admirable.
India’s best bowler and Mumbai Indians’ pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah has been exceptional too, while England’s Jofra Archer has been immaculate with 23 and 20 wickets respectively. But the latter IPL sojourn has been unfortunately cut with the star-heavy Rajasthan Royals bowing out of the tournament in the league stage itself.
But it is not just these men who have set the stage alight.
There have been a number of bright spots across all the teams, which bodes well not just for the future of Indian cricket but internationally too.
Young Devdutt Padikkal had a brilliant debut season, racking up five half-centuries for Royal Challengers Bangalore. Padikkal, who plies his trade for eight-time Ranji Trophy champions Karnataka, is the third uncapped player in IPL history to score more than four 50 plus scores in their debut season.
Shubman Gill of the Kolkata Knight Riders too has been impressive so has been Suryakumar Yadav. Yadav though has missed the plane to Australia for no fault of his own.
Sanju Samson of the Rajasthan Royals started brightly but fizzled away, while his teammate Rahul Tewatia came better late than never. Ruturaj Gaikwad and England’s Sam Curran, meanwhile, gave a glimpse into the future for the Chennai Super Kings.
Among the bowlers, New Zealand’s Trent Boult, India’s Mohammad Shami, Afghan leg-spinner Rashid Khan and Sandeep Sharma have been as impressive as always but the surprise packages have been South Africxan Anrich Nortje, India’s Varun Chakravarthy, T Natarajan, Ravi Bishnoi, Shivam Mavi, Mohammed Siraj and Kartik Tyagi shone for their respective franchises.
Nortje, a replacement for England all-rounder Chris Woakes, in fact bowled the fastest delivery in IPL history, at 156.22kmph.
Mystery spinner Chakravarthy, who has seven variations, has the best bowling figures this season with five for 20 and has earned himself a ticket to Australia. T Natarajan and Tyagi’s showing too has seen the duo being picked among the four additional bowlers that will travel Down Under.
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