With the IPL now underway, we have seen a lot of games and have a fair idea of where our team stands and where it’s going to finish. We’ve seen quick hundreds, crucial wickets, breathtaking catches, insane run outs and moreover, unexpected turnarounds. And when we look at the sides, a few of them have stood out as a team but then there is always that one person who leads the battle and is the one who stands out.
1) Royal Challengers Bangalore
Christopher Gayle: The name has a symbiotic relationship with T20. The Jamaican has made a mark for himself in this format as well as other formats of the game. Being only the fourth player to score two 300′s in Test cricket, which is reflected by his team jersey no. 333 (his highest score), he is the man to watch out for whenever the Bangalore side come out onto the field. His form has remained intact from the last season and he is playing brilliantly this time too. In the last game against Punjab, he showed that he’s not always restless to smack the ball around, and instead, played a calm and composed innings – which was needed. Coming from a losing position, he almost saw the game through himself. Of course having a reliable AB de Villiers by his side, takes the pressure off him. His strike rate in the IPL is a mammoth 144, which can’t help but draw admiration even by other teams.
Faf du Plessis: Being brought in as a replacement for Mathew Hayden, du Plessis has stepped up to the task and done a fabulous job. Scoring 302 runs in 7 games, he doesn’t seem to be done yet. Boasting of a sublime strike rate of 138, the Chennai supporters see a ray of hope in him, even if the team get off to a bad start. Battling for the Orange Cap, people wouldn’t be surprised to see the South African walk away with it.
3) Delhi Daredevils
Morne Morkel: This is a tough one. With Pietersen in form, he should be here, but having performed well in more games, Morkel edges this out. He has led the charge for the Daredevils which sees them atop the table and has also helped them reach there comfortably. Not a single match have they won from a difficult position nor have been clobbered by the batsmen (except for the last game, where Pune rode their luck a little). He would play a season changing role for the Kotla team, as he leads the race for the Purple cap.
4) Rajasthan Royals
Ajinkya Rahane: The youngster is a perfect answer to why the IPL was started : to spot domestic talent. He has been in superb form and is chasing the Orange Cap. Having scored the first century of this edition after coming closest with a 98, he has not slipped off, as many would have thought and is keeping the Rajasthan ship afloat and the Sawai Mansingh stadium - their fortress.
Gautam Gambhir: With no one really standing out in the team, Gauti has done his best playing crucial innings at times, which now sees KKR in the coveted 3rd spot. Captaining decisions by the Indian, have been good and have mostly worked in their favor. With stars like Jacques Kallis and Brett Lee by his side, his job is also made easier.
Dale Steyn: The only bright light for the Chargers would be the presence of Dale Steyn. Being one of the fastest bowlers in the world, and undoubtedly the most ruthless one, he has overshadowed his compatriots even though he is not knocking at the Purple Cap’s door. His economy rate and ability to take wickets are what keeps the Hyderabad team hanging by a thread of hope.
7) Pune Warriors India
Jesse Ryder: The Kiwi has been good for the Warriors so far. More or less, a lot of players have performed from this team – individually, rather than collectively which has been the problem. Ashok Dinda, Robin Uthappa and even Dada has done well so far, but Ryder has helped Pune get to big totals and would look to book them that all-important play-off berth.
8) Kings XI Punjab
Shaun Marsh: Kings XI were having quite a torrid time until Shaun Marsh decided to repeat his antics of the previous seasons. More or less termed a one-man-army, he has scored a few fifties for the Punjab team and would look to keep the good form going. Punjab sit with three other teams at six points and a few wins would surely propel them up.
Kieron Pollard: Last time he did it with the bat, this time he decided to do it with the ball. Pollard sits second on the wicket taker list and though he hasn’t really been good at the crease (by his standards), he has been superb at the bowler’s end. A few games more may set the tone for him and we would get to see the balls as well as the stumps fly all over the park.