15 Matches, 6 Performances – IPL 2021
The IPL is now in full swing. A total of 15 matches have already been played, and quite a few memorable performances have entertained the fans and critics.
The tournament opener of IPL 2021 between Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore saw a spectacular spell from Harshal Patel. He became the first bowler in the history of IPL to take five wickets against Mumbai Indians. Virat Kohli won the toss and elected to field first. For Mumbai Indians, the primary target was to break the loop of losing the first match of IPL in the last eight editions. It was not a pleasant start for the defending champions as they lost Rohit Sharma quickly, followed by Chris Lynn, who missed half-century by one run.
The top order struggled throughout. Then Hardik Pandya’s dismissal by Harshal Patel followed by Ishan Kishan was like the last nail in the coffin for Mumbai’s middle order. The final over saw Harshal Patel scalping the wickets of Krunal Pandya, Kieron Pollard in back-to-back deliveries but missing the chance of hattrick. He delivered a slow yorker to dismiss Macro Jansen of the fourth ball of the over to complete his 5-wicket haul. Harshal Patel became only the third bowler to have registered a 5-wicket haul for RCB after Anil Kumble and Jaydev Unadkat.
Chetan Sakariya is a new name in the Indian Premier League. After his good showings in domestic cricket, he was bought for a whopping Rs 1.2 crore by Rajasthan Royals. However, not a lot of people expected him to debut in the first match of the season. In the last Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2021, he went to pick up 12 wickets in five matches with the best figures of 5/11 in an innings for Saurashtra. He was unstoppable. Even his seniors vouched for his pace and accuracy. The 23-year old medium-fast bowler picked up three wickets on his debut for conceding 31 runs at an economy of 7.75, including 13 dots.
The match saw RR captain Sanju Samson using eight bowlers to stop the destructive KL Rahul (91 off 50), Chris Gayle (40 off 28), and Deepak Hooda (64 off 28). Punjab Kings scored a massive 221/6, and Chetan Sakariya was the most economical bowler against the rampant. He dismissed KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, and Jhye Richardson, showcasing his class on his very first appearance on such a huge platform.
After a loss in the first match, Mumbai Indians were desperate for a win. The defending champions failed to secure a win in their tournament opener, and this had been a regular story for them over the last few years. The challenge was, however, to come back and resume the tournament on a winning note. Mumbai Indians were playing against Kolkata Knight Riders in Chennai in the fifth match of the Indian Premier League 2021. Kolkata won the toss and elected to field first.
The call of the captain was justified by his players, and Mumbai were restricted to just 152 runs. For the KKR batting line-up, it looked like an easy chase. The openers Shubman Gill and Nitish Rana took advantage of the Powerplay before Gill getting dismissed for 33 off 24 by Rahul Chahar. Rahul Tripathi walked in only to be sent back by Chahar for five runs in the space of 10 deliveries. Eoin Morgan and Nitish Rana were the next prey of Rahul Chahar for seven and 57 runs, respectively.
That was it for Kolkata Knight Riders, as the lower middle order could not revive the innings further and lost the match by 10 runs. Chahar conceded 27 runs as he bowled at an economy of 6.25 in four overs.
IPL 2020 was a terrible time for Prithvi Shaw. He was a failure in the tournament organized in UAE and was dropped from the team midway through the tournament. The Australia tour following the IPL was also not a fruitful one for Shaw, and worryingly his attitude was questioned. He was subsequently dropped from the Indian team and became a subject for memes. However, like any strong-minded young man, Shaw practiced hard, improved himself, and proved his worth in domestic cricket. In the recent Vijay Hazare Trophy, Prithvi Shaw broke the record for the highest total runs in the season and led his team Mumbai to the trophy.
However, IPL is a much bigger spectacle, and Shaw showed his brilliant form to the whole world in the first match of his campaign. Chasing 188 against CSK, Shaw opened the innings with Shikhar Dhawan and started playing shots from the very beginning. None of the CSK bowlers were spared as Shaw hit nine boundaries and three sixes on his way to a masterful 38-ball 72. It again proved the eternal saying that form is temporary, but class is permanent.
Like Shaw, Sanju Samson also had a mixed few months recently. After a moderate IPL 2020, where he played few memorable innings, he was selected for the T20 Internationals in Australia but failed to perform consistently to cement his spot. However, he was assigned the captaincy responsibility for his franchise Rajasthan Royals for IPL 2021. Royals are one of the underachievers of the IPL, and the pressure will be massive to deliver. In his first match as captain, Samson faced Punjab Kings, who posted a huge total batting first thanks to explosive innings from Deepak Hooda and solid innings from KL Rahul.
Chasing 221, Royals lost Ben Stokes in the first over, which brought Samson to the crease. From there on, he picked up the responsibility for his team. He kept playing his shots and built key partnerships with Jos Buttler, Shivam Dubey, and Riyan Parag. He reached his third IPL hundred off just 54 deliveries. It was a special inning decorated by 12 fours and seven sixes. Despite losing wickets in the other end, the Royals were in the hunt till the last ball, thanks to Samson. With a six required for a final ball win, Samson was caught in the boundary. Despite his failure to take his team to victory this century, his captaincy debut will remain special IPL innings.
Like any strong team, Delhi Capitals has many match-winners in their rank, and after Prithvi Shaw’s special innings in the first match, it was his fellow opener Shikhar Dhawan who grab all the limelight in their second win of the season. Against the strong bowling attack of Punjab Kings, consisting of Mohammed Shami, Jhye Richardson, and Riley Meredith, Dhawan showed his class in a tricky chase.
Thanks to Dhawan’s superior innings, a target of 195 was chased with 10 balls to spare. In this IPL, Dhawan has shown his experience and dedication to the game by modifying his approach to add more value for his team in the shortest format. He changes his gear at different stages of the innings and does not hesitate to improvise if the situation demands it. He has also manufactured shots to utilize the gaps in the field efficiently. When everyone was expecting a three-figure score from him, he was dismissed by Richardson. He missed his century by just eight runs, but his 92 off 49 balls helped Delhi capitals to get the win easily.