The 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), which was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has gotten off to a great start. The first half of the league has just concluded with all the teams playing each other once. We have witnessed some close encounters, some brilliant individual performances, and epic comebacks during this phase of IPL 2020.
The various team combinations and restrictions on the number of overseas players has meant that some consistent performers like Chris Gayle, Ajinkya Rahane, Imran Tahir, Mitchell McClenaghan have been warming the bench.
On the other hand, there have been sparks of brilliance from youngsters like Priyam Garg, Ravi Bishnoi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi. There has also been a peculiar trend of teams batting first winning the majority of games (just 7 out 28 matches have been won by chasing teams) in this year's IPL.
The gap between the IPL teams at the top and the bottom of the points table is wide, with three teams clearly racing ahead of the others and looking well placed to qualify for the playoffs.
We look at the best starting XI of the first half of IPL 2020. Only four overseas players have been included in accordance with the IPL rule regarding foreign players.
KL Rahul (Wicket-Keeper), Mayank Agarwal
The Kings XI Punjab openers, KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal, have been in tremendous form and occupy the top two positions in the Orange Cap table. They have batted brilliantly, playing excellent shots and have done the bulk of the scoring for their team in IPL 2020. Rahul and Agarwal have so far amassed 387 and 337 runs respectively with a century apiece.
But a lack of support from the middle order has led to Kings XI Punjab throwing away strong positions on numerous occasions in this year's IPL and they have managed to muster just a single win in their seven games so far.
The Punjab captain recorded the highest individual score by an Indian in IPL history scoring 132* (69) versus the Royal Challengers Bangalore. Agarwal scored the second-fastest century by an Indian, reaching the milestone against the Rajasthan Royals in just 45 balls. KL Rahul will also be the wicket-keeper in this XI.
Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer (Captain)
After struggling in the initial three matches of IPL 2020, Virat Kohli has found his rhythm and has delivered consistent performances. The leading run-getter in IPL history scored a magnificent 72* to guide his team to victory in a chase against the Rajasthan Royals.
Against the Chennai Super Kings, Kolhi looked a class apart on a slow wicket at Dubai, amassing 90*(52) which included just 40 runs through boundaries. Kohli currently occupies the sixth spot in the IPL runs tally with 256 runs at an incredible average of 64.00.
Shreyas Iyer has led from the front and is the top run-getter for the Delhi Capitals in IPL 2020 with 245 runs at an average of 40.83. The middle-order batsman played a quickfire knock of 88* (38), studded with 7 fours and 6 sixes against the Kolkata Knight Riders, which propelled Delhi to their highest total of this IPL at 228/4.
Against Kings XI Punjab and the Mumbai Indians, Shreyas curbed his natural attacking instincts and forged useful partnerships with Rishabh Pant and Shikhar Dhawan respectively.
He has also captained the side well with good field placements, the use of spinners in the powerplay, bowling strike bowlers at crucial junctures and maintaining the core of the playing XI. Hence, he will be the captain of this XI.
Marcus Stoinis, Rahul Tewatia, Jofra Archer
Australian all-rounder Marcus Stoinis has become a vital part of the Delhi Capitals lineup. He came up with a counter-attacking knock of 53 (21) in the opening fixture of this year's IPL against Kings XI Punjab. Stoinis guided DC to a fighting total and then came back to pick up two wickets in the final over to take the game to a Super Over.
He repeated his heroics with the same score against the Royal Challengers Bangalore too. Overall, Marcus has accumulated 175 runs at a brisk strike rate of 175 while also scalping wickets with his medium pace bowling.
Rahul Tewatia has been a surprising find in IPL 2020. Traded to the Rajasthan Royals from the Delhi Capitals before the auctions, Tewatia has gotten regular opportunities in the playing XI and proved his mettle immediately. He pulled off a heist against Punjab, smashing West Indies pacer Sheldon Cottrell for five sixes in an over.
Tewatia also won a game, which looked well beyond RR's reach, in the company of Riyan Parag versus the Sunrisers Hyderabad. Tewatia has so far mustered 189 runs, including 15 sixes, and has also snared five wickets at a decent economy rate.
Jofra Archer, the tearaway pacer from England, has been the go-to bowler for the Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2020. He has impressed with his ability to bowl effectively in different phases of the innings and has picked up crucial wickets. Archer has so far picked nine wickets and has bowled the most number of dot balls (87) in this year's IPL.
With the bat, Archer has provided an impetus to RR's innings, smashing sixes at will against Chennai and Punjab. He also tops the batting strike rate (220) charts.
Rashid Khan, Yuzvendra Chahal
Rashid Khan has been impressive yet again for Sunrisers Hyderabad. He has bowled effectively, with the opposition batsmen primarily looking to preserve their wickets while facing his bowling. The master spinner bowled match-winning spells against the Delhi Capitals (3/14) and Kings XI Punjab (3/12) and has picked up 10 wickets at an average of 14.10 while maintaining an economy of just 5.03.
Yuzvendra Chahal has been a star performer for Bangalore in this year's IPL with ten wickets at an average of 19.10 and he occupies the fifth spot in the wicket-takers list. Chahal is the only bowler to bag two Man of the Match awards, winning them for his brilliant spells versus SRH (3/18) and RR (3/24).
Against the Sunrisers, he picked up the prized scalps of Manish Pandey and Jonny Bairstow to turn the direction of the match, which was firmly in Hyderabad's control. Playing at Sharjah against KKR, he did well to bowl a tight spell, conceding just 12 runs off his four overs.
Kagiso Rabada, Jasprit Bumrah
Kagiso Rabada is the current Purple Cap holder in IPL 2020 with 17 wickets at an astonishing average of 12.52. Rabada now has the record of scalping at least one wicket in 21 consecutive matches in the IPL since May 2017. He was instrumental in the Capitals winning in the Super Over by picking both the KXIP wickets and conceding just two runs.
The Protean pacer also came up with match-winning spells against the Chennai Super Kings (3/26) and the Royal Challengers Bangalore (4/24), picking up the wickets of the in-form Faf du Plessis and Virat Kohli in the process. Rabada has the best bowling strike rate at 9.76 for the first half of this year's IPL.
Jasprit Bumrah along with Trent Boult and James Pattinson has formed a potent pace trio for the Mumbai Indians. He is the second leading wicket-taker of the league with 11 scalps and has the best bowling figures of the tournament (4/20) against RR.
Bumrah delivered fiery spells to set up victories for MI against KKR, KXIP and RR, picking up the crucial wickets of Eoin Morgan, Andre Russell, Mayank Agarwal and Steve Smith.
While defending a target of just 8 runs in a Super Over against the Royal Challengers, Bumrah bowled splendidly to take the game to the sixth ball.
The IPL points table list 2020 has been updated!! Click here to see.
Published 15 Oct 2020, 18:13 IST