The 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has crossed the halfway mark. The tournament, being played in the UAE, due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, has seen some interesting developments.
While defending champions Mumbai Indians continue to impress, Chennai Super Kings are having a tough time with their senior pros Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh pulling out of the tournament before the start of the event.
On the other hand, Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore are looking like serious contenders for the first time since 2016. The rest of the sides are blowing hot and cold.
Ironically, Kings XI Punjab are languishing at the bottom of the points table despite their openers KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal heading the list of top run-getters at the moment.
With teams looking to seal their play-offs berth over the next couple of weeks, we profile five surprise success stories of IPL 2020 so far.
1. Devdutt Padikkal
If RCB’s fortunes in IPL 2020 have take a turn for the good, young opener Devdutt Padikkal has had a lot to do with it. Till last year, RCB were struggling despite some fantastic performances from AB de Villiers and skipper Kohli because they lacked a solid batting Iine-up overall.
Padikkal’s assured presence at the top of the order has made a lot of difference in that sense. The 20-year-old has notched up three breezy fifties in the first seven games to get Bangalore off to some flying starts.
2. Anrich Nortje
South African fast bowler Anrich Nortje only came into the Delhi Capitals squad as a replacement for England's pace bowling all-rounder Chris Woakes. And, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Nortje has been nothing short of a revelation for Delhi Capitals, and a perfect foil for his countryman, fast bowler Kagiso Rabada.
Nortje has ran in and speared the ball in at real quick pace. He has also found the yorkers in the death overs, making it extremely difficult for the batsmen to get him away. Nortje has delivered crucial wickets for his skipper in tense games, and will remain among the bowlers to watch out for in the second half as well.
3. Rahul Tewatia
From villain to hero, Rajasthan Royals all-rounder Rahul Tewatia’s fortunes in the match against Kings XI Punjab changed quicker than that of the protagonists in Bollywood movies. Tewatia’s five sixes in an over from Sheldon Cottrell will remain one of the most memorable turnarounds in IPL history.
But, there is more to Tewatia than just those five sixes. He picked up 3 for 37 in RR’s opening game of the tournament, dismissing Shane Watson and Sam Curran to deal a severe blow to CSK’s chances. And, as if to prove his knock against KXIP wasn’t a fluke, Tewatia smashed an unbeaten 45 from 28 against SRH. He, in fact, took on Rashid Khan and won the battle.
4. Ravi Bishnoi
In a bowling side struggling for consistency, young leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi has made a serious impact for KXIP, taking on some big names in world cricket, and winning a few rounds as well. The 20-year-old made an impressive debut with 1 for 22 against Delhi, dismissing the dangerous Rishabh Pant even as Punjab faltered.
In KXIP’s first win of the season, Bishnoi was the stae with the ball, picking up 3 for 32. His victims included Aaron Finch and Washington Sundar. Even when SRH clattered Punjab for 201 runs at Dubai, Bishoi returned with his reputation in tact, getting the big scalps of David Warner and Jonny Bairstow.
5. T. Natarajan
SRH left-armer T. Natarajan has gotten accustomed to being the team’s lead pace bowler following Bhunveshwar Kumar’s early exit from the tournament due to injury. It has been Natarajan’s nagging accuracy and his ability to find the block hole at will that has stood out in his performances in the first half of IPL 2020.
Natarajan impressed with 2 for 24 against Punjab. In the triumph over CSK, he picked up the scalps of Ambati Rayudu and Ravindra Jadeja at key moments in the game. He then dismissed the dangerous Marcus Stoinis as SRH stunned favourites Delhi.Published 16 Oct 2020, 13:18 IST