Andre Russell, KL Rahul, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and other prominent names have made a mark early in the competition.
It's just over a week since the Indian Premier League returned for its 11th edition, and we've already seen everything from record-breaking batting efforts to last-ball thrillers in the 12 matches so far.
Here’s a ready reckoner for those looking for a quick catch-up of the Indian Twenty20 tournament.
Things were left in a bit of a mess at Sunrisers Hyderabad when David Warner was banned for his role in the ball-tampering incident in Cape Town last month. The team lost their captain, and leading run-scorer of the previous two seasons, in one fell swoop. And yet, Hyderabad lead the table with six points at this stage and are the only unbeaten side among the eight.
Kane Williamson has stepped into the captaincy hole and ensured there’s no lack of stability, and Shikhar Dhawan’s form – he has 130 runs at a strike rate of 141.30 in three matches – has ensured that Warner’s runs aren’t too missed either.
Their victories have come in all manners as well – a comprehensive nine-wicket triumph over Rajasthan Royals to start the tournament, a last-ball, one-wicket victory over Mumbai Indians, and a straightforward five-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders.
It’s been quickly evident that, as important as quality overseas players are for each side, the local players have a definite impact on a team’s season.
So far this edition, it’s been KL Rahul and Sanju Samson, both India internationals. Rahul has so far managed scores of 51, 47 and 37, the half-century coming off 14 balls and setting a new tournament record. Samson, meanwhile, has been electric, with 178 runs in three matches to lead the charts, including a 45-ball 92* against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
With the ball, Mayank Markande, the 20-year-old Mumbai Indians leggie, can be confident of a move to the higher levels if he keeps up this form. He has seven wickets already, his victims including Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Shakib Al Hasan and Dhawan.
Mumbai Indians are traditionally poor starters – they usually sneak through to the knockouts on the back of a late run of wins, after which they are usually unstoppable. Last season, they seemed to have gotten over the habit, but this year they are once again struggling.
After the first full week, with each team having played three games, the defending champions are bottom of the pile, having lost everything. They lost the tournament opener to Chennai Super Kings and the subsequent clash against Hyderabad, both by one wicket in the last over. Their seven-wicket loss to Delhi Daredevils also came with no balls to spare.
Rohit Sharma’s side have shone in patches, but they are just not able grind out victories. Not very champion like.
There have been plenty of scarcely-believable batting feats already, but Andre Russell takes the cake. His 36-ball 88* against Chennai may not have been enough to help Kolkata to victory, but it was a knock of such uninhibited hitting that for a while there nothing else mattered. His innings comprised just one four, the bulk of the runs coming via 11 humungous sixes, including a couple that went out of the ground. It equalled the record for most sixes in any T20 innings of less than 100.
Mujeeb Ur Rahman is still only 17, but has already created a huge impression. At the IPL with Kings Xi Punjab, the Afghan spinner has been one of the stars, starting out with 2/28 against Delhi and then 1/29 against Bangalore. But the best, not in terms of wickets but run checking, came against Chennai, when he bowled just three overs – the sixth, the 10th and the 12th – against Dhoni & Co, and gave away just seven, four and seven runs respectively to return 0/18. Doesn’t seem like much, but as Dhoni said afterwards following his team’s four-run defeat, “Mujeeb was a great difference.”
Sanju Samson hit 10 sixes during his 45-ball 92* against Bangalore. It was the second most in any sub-100 innings in the IPL. Andre Russell’s 11 in his 88* against Chennai is the highest.
"Well bowled, but I'm going to get him back in the next match” – Dhawan after being dismissed for a 28-ball 45 by young Markande.
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