From Kolkata’s Sunil Narine to Hyderabad’s Manish Pandey, the Indian T20 League saw a host some forgotten heroes rising to the occasion last week (October 19-25) as the points table kept swinging like a pendulum, making it difficult to guess the final four.
Here’s a look at the best eleven from the eventful week.
BEN STOKES (Rajasthan)
It has taken the Rajasthan management some amount of time, which has essentially seen their playoff dreams passing by this season, but they have seemingly figured out the best use of Ben Stokes in UAE. After Stokes was hardly impactful up the batting order as an all-rounder, the Englishman was asked to focus solely on his batting against Mumbai’s rich bowling attack, and the Rajasthan star exploded with all his might. Hitting 14 boundaries and three sixes, Stokes’ unbeaten 107 helped Rajasthan chase down a target of 196 in just 18.2 overs.
SHIKHAR DHAWAN (Delhi)
Another week and yet another century by Shikhar Dhawan in the Indian T20 League. However, it was a pity that his brilliant knock came in a losing cause as every other Delhi batsmen were sent back early. However. Dhawan’s one-man show, when no one around him could stand up to Punjab’s onslaught, makes his innings all the more special. With 12 boundaries and three sixes, Dhawan’s unbeaten 106 had helped post a competitive target of 165, but to no avail.
NITISH RANA (Kolkata)
With a string of results not going his way, and consequently the team’s, Nitish Rana was under immense pressure to perform. After Kolkata’s crumble against Rajasthan, the side had come under massive criticism as an in-from Delhi team came knocking on the door. However, promoting Rana up the order saw him scoring a handy 81 – with 13 boundaries and one six – as he built an unusual partnership alongside Sunil Narine.
MANISH PANDEY (Hyderabad)
One of the strugglers at the Indian T20 League this season, Hyderabad had shown signs of a late comeback against Rajasthan. However, after Steven Smith’s men were bundled for just 154, Hyderabad were looking at yet another crumble as David Warner and Jonny Bairstow had returned after adding just 14 runs to the board. It was then an unlikely partnership between Manish Pandey and Vijay Shankar helped Hyderabad chase the target comprehensively. While Shankar gave support from an end, Pandey hit four boundaries and eight sixes to score an unbeaten 83 to win the game for his side.
JOS BUTTLER (Rajasthan)
It was a bowler’s paradise in Abu Dhabi where Rajasthan clashed with Chennai in the first match of the week. With both the teams struggling to find form, it was reflected fairly in their batting. After Chennai were bundled for just 125 runs in the first innings, Rajasthan had lost Stokes, Robin Uthappa and Sanju Samson for just 23 runs. But, a headstrong Jos Buttler scored 70 off 48 balls to forge a partnership with Smith and win the match in 17.3 overs.
SUNIL NARINE (Kolkata)
Inspiration can come at the unlikeliest of times and Kolkata experienced something similar against Delhi. After a one-sided defeat against Bangalore, Kolkata were staring at yet another underwhelming batting display against Delhi as they struggled at 42-2 after 7.2 overs. However, the management’s gamble to send in Sunil Narine at number five to face spinners worked. The southpaw took Ravichandran Ashwin to the stands almost at will, scoring 64 runs – a knock that had six boundaries and four boundaries. Narine’s 115-tun partnership with Rana took the game in Kolkata’s favour.
SAM CURRAN (Chennai)
With their play-offs aspiration all but over this season, Chennai have little reason to turn up for the remaining matches now. Hence, Sam Curran’s heroics coming at such dark times is an achievement in itself. Up against a strong Mumbai side, when Chennai were struggling at 21-5, a young Sam Curran helped his side post a respectable total of 114 with a 52-run knock. Chennai made up for that loss with an impressive win over Bangalore and Curran was the pivot again, as he scalped three wickets by conceding just 19 runs in three overs that restricted Bangalore to 145 runs.
VARUN CHAKRAVARTHY (Kolkata)
It is no secret that the most successful Indian T20 League have always been those who managed to unearth domestic talents to find the right balance between stalwarts and raw quality. Kolkata might be on the verge of being one such successful once again because of Varun Chakravarthy. Not a purple cap contender this season, but the shrewd spinner has had everyone talking with his variations. Hence, when more than two of his teammates performed well against Delhi, there was no stopping Chakravarthy. He scalped a whopping five wickets by conceding just 20 runs.
MOHAMMED SIRAJ (Bangalore)
Mohammed Siraj’s spell against Kolkata will be remembered for ages for the sheer perfection he had brought into his bowling. Quite unbelievably, two of his four overs were maiden with the speedster bowling 16 dots. However, even Chris Morris had bowled 15 dots to restrict Kolkata batsmen early on and what made Siraj’s spell even more special was his dismissal of Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana and Tom Banton – Kolkata’s top order. Siraj also conceded just eight runs in his four overs.
JOFRA ARCHER (Rajasthan)
Jasprit Bumrah might have been a more celebrated bowler at the Indian T20 League for the limelight that four-time title winners Mumbai always get, but the heads have been turned by Jofra Archer this season. The Rajasthan bowler has single-handedly kept his side in contests time and again as he sits second in the race for the purple cap now with 17 wickets from 12 matches. Rajasthan played three matches last week and Archer ended up taking five wickets in them, conceding 72 runs across three matches.
PAT CUMMINS (Kolkata)
Arriving the tournament as the highest-priced player, Pat Cummins had needed just one match to settle and the Australian all-rounder has since been one of the best players for Kolkata. Kolkata’s big win over Delhi saw this speedster forming his team’s two-headed sword alongside Varun Chakravarthy. Despite having to defend a 195-run target, Delhi had enough firepower to chase it down had Cummins not sent Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan back within 13 runs. With Chakravarthy’s onslaught in between, Cummins ended Delhi’s challenge with Kagiso Rabada’s wicket conceding just 17 runs in his four overs.
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