With a patient 46 off 47 balls against the Kolkata Knight Riders yesterday, Delhi Capitals opener Shikhar Dhawan wrested the 2021 Indian Premier League (IPL) Orange Cap away from the Chennai Super Kings' Faf du Plessis.
Prithvi Shaw surged up to third spot on the IPL 2021 Orange Cap list, and has gone from strength to strength in the tournament. Others like Sanju Samson and Jos Buttler are slowly finding their feet after going through a brief rough patch.
Some players took time to get accustomed to the unfamiliar playing conditions in IPL 2021, but now seem primed to challenge for the IPL 2021 Orange Cap. Here are 3 batsmen who started the tournament slowly but are hitting their stride as we approach the midpoint of the league stage.
#3 Mayank Agarwal (PBKS)
Despite having been part of India's squads for the Australia and England Test series, Mayank Agarwal came into IPL 2021 without much match practice under his belt. The rust was evident, as he made scores of 14 and 0 in his first two innings.
Since then, although he hasn't replicated the form he showed last year for the Punjab Kings, Agarwal's star has been on the rise. With scores of 69, 22, 25 and 31, the opener has consistently got starts as the rest of the top order has collapsed around him.
Agarwal is nowhere near peak form, but he's slowly and steadily hitting his stride. One of the most positive openers in the powerplay in the IPL, he could make a run for the IPL 2021 Orange Cap.
#2 Devdutt Padikkal (RCB)
Devdutt Padikkal failed to recover in time from COVID-19 and missed the Royal Challengers Bangalore's first game. The young opener was clearly out of sorts in the first two matches, as he scored 11 and 25 with middling strike rates.
But Padikkal exploded into form with a match-winning maiden IPL century against the Rajasthan Royals, and hasn't looked back since. He hasn't exactly been able to convert his starts (34 and 17) into big scores, but he's been a breath of fresh air at the top of the order.
Padikkal's intent and fearlessness have been on display in IPL 2021, and his performances have been in sharp contrast to the cautious manner in which he went about his batting last year. It won't be long before we see him pile on another massive score.
#1 Ruturaj Gaikwad (CSK)
Ruturaj Gaikwad ended the Chennai Super Kings' woeful IPL 2020 campaign on a positive note by stroking fifties in each of the team's last three games. But after an inconsistent domestic season, the opener struggled to find his timing at the start of this season.
Gaikwad scored 5, 5 and 10 in his first three games of IPL 2021, all at strike rates well below 100. With Robin Uthappa and N Jagadeesan warming the bench, the 24-year-old could've easily been dropped from the playing XI. But in typical fashion, captain MS Dhoni placed his faith in the youngster, who has delivered remarkably.
Gaikwad has tallied scores of 64, 33 and 75 in his last three IPL 2021 games, with the final knock against the Sunrisers Hyderabad fetching him the Man of the Match award. He has shown why he's regarded so highly in the Indian domestic circuit, and could build on these displays to make a run for the Orange Cap.