Review after 20 days of IPL
IPL 2021 is nearly three weeks old. Amidst the gloomy situation in India due to the extended cases of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IPL has given people something to follow and use as a distraction during these torrid times. In the first 20 odd matches, there were quite a few memorable performances and matches, and here are some of the best performers of this IPL.
It would have been hard to believe a few years back, but the best team of this year’s IPL are Royal Challengers Bangalore. The Virat Kohli-led team has a great mix of youth and experience, and that balance is helping them to get wins from difficult situations. They went to the IPL auction with a proper plan, did some key business to get the service of some of the world’s best players, and the result is for everyone to see.
In the last couple of years, it was always a Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers show for RCB, but this year Glenn Maxwell provided them a new dimension in the middle order. The Australian big hitter has provided them another world-class batter in the middle order. Their investment in Kyle Jamieson is also giving good results. The trust shown on young players like Devdutt Paddikal and Mohammed Siraj is duly repaid by their key performances like the century from Paddikal or the two tight death overs by Siraj against Andre Russell and Rishabh Pant.
The Punjab Kings vs. Rajasthan Royals match in the first week of the tournament remained the most dramatic match of this season. The high-scoring match saw Punjab Kings posting a massive 221/6 in their 20 overs. Their captain KL Rahul was the Orange Cap winner in the IPL 2020, and he started in the same mood to post 91. Deepak Hooda surprised one and all with his blistering 28-ball 64, which ensured the 200 plus total for the Kings.
The Royals lost their key player Ben Stokes initially, but it still did not bother them as their new captain Sanju Samson kept playing his shots and developed partnerships. Samson added 45 runs with Jos Buttler, 53 runs with Shivam Dube, and 42 runs with Riyan Parag. All these players played the supporting role to Sanju, who reached his third IPL hundred. Eventually, it came down to a requirement for a last-ball six from Sanju, but the wicket-keeper batter was holed out at the deep by Hooda to give Punjab Kings a victory by just 4 runs.
Best All-round show:
Ravindra Jadeja’s all-around brilliant showing against Royal Challengers Bangalore are not only the best all-round performance of this season in IPL’s history; it will be rated very highly. Playing against RCB, the unbeaten side in the IPL till then, Jadeja came to bat in the 14th over. He was on 26 off 21 balls when Harshal Patel started the final over of the innings. Patel already picked up 3 wickets for just1 4 runs. However, Jadeja launched Patel’s first delivery for a six. He repeated it in the next three deliveries; one of those was a no-ball. He hit 2, 6, and 4 in the last three balls and ended the over with 37 runs from it. 36 of those were scored by Jadeja himself, who ended on 62 off just 28 balls.
He did not stop there as he bowled a brilliant spell of left-arm spin bowling to pick up three wickets, including the huge scalps of Glenn Maxwell and AB de Villiers. He ended his spell with 3 for 13 in four overs. Jadeja also presented a glimpse of his world-class fielding when he ran out Dan Christian with a direct hit. CSK won the match comfortably, and there were not many doubts regarding the choice of the man-of-the-match.
The world T20 is supposed to be scheduled in India later in the year, and there is strong competition for the opener’s slot for India. Shikhar Dhawan realized that and reinvented himself. He took full advantage of the batting-friendly conditions of Mumbai and delivered two-match winnings innings for his team Delhi Capitals. His 85 against CSK and 92 against Punjab Kings were special innings. Both of those innings came in tricky chases of close to 190 plus runs, and Dhawan was the main man for the Capitals.
Even the slow pitches of Chennai also could not stop Dhawan, and after a few handy innings, he is now the proud owner of the Orange Cap in IPL 2021. He has built a great opening partnership with Prithvi Shaw, who is around 14 years younger. Delhi Capitals missed the IPL title narrowly last year, and they would hope for Dhawan to continue this form and took them to the glory this time.
Despite his 37-run last over against Ravindra Jadeja, Harshal Patel is the most impactful bowler in this IPL. The uncapped Indian pacers are part of IPL since 2012, but except for 2012 and 2015, he never played more than 5 matches in a season as he failed to get a permanent spot in the first eleven.
This year he is with RCB, and his luck changed on the opening day of IPL 2021. Using the sluggish pitch in Chennai, Harshal displayed his great death bowling skill and ended with a five-wicket haul against Mumbai Indians. This was the first five-wicket haul against MI in the history of the IPL. Harshal kept picking up wickets in the subsequent matches for RCB and now has at least two wickets in every match in IPL 2021. Most of these wickets came at the death and impacted the ability of the opponents to score quick runs most of the time. Harshal already has 17 wickets from 6 matches and owning the Purple Cap comfortably with 17 wickets. If Harshal can hold on to this special record until the tournament’s knock-out stages, Royal Challengers will have a great chance to get their first-ever IPL Trophy this year.
Best Upcoming Star:
Many young Indian stars, especially from the uncapped group, have made significant contributions to their teams. Harshal Patel, Avesh Khan, and Chetan Sakariya have impressed with the ball, whereas Devdutt Pddikal, Nitish Rana, and Shahrukh Khan have made everyone take notice of them thanks to their great innings.
One player who is making key contributions and proving himself ready for an international opportunity is the Chennai Super Kings opener Ruturaj Gaikwad. Gaikwad is regular in the India-A squad and also made a significant contribution in domestic cricket. He has been part of the CSK set up for the last few years and played few matches in the last IPL with limited success. However, this year he graduated as their first-choice opener along with Faf du Plessis. He started with few failures but has scored more than 170 runs in his last three matches, including two fifties. His stroke-full 75 was a key reason for CSK’s easy chase against SRH deservingly; Gaikwad got the Man-of-the-match in that encounter. Gaikwad will hope to continue this form for the entire tournament to make himself a strong candidate for the opening position for India in World T20 and other upcoming engagements for Team India.