The IPL, India’s T20 summer bonanza got underway this week. But, that is not the only cricket on the planet. Bangladesh walked away with heads held high, drawing 1-1 in the T20 series against Sri Lanka, making their fans proud. Pakistan got the better of West Indies in the T20 series but WI won a blinder in the first ODI between the two teams.
That is a lot of cricket from three different parts of the world, and needless to say, we have a host of players competing for the top spots. Glenn Maxwell played a blinder against Rising Pune Supergiant in his first game as skipper of Kings XI Punjab, winning it for his team. So did Rishabh Pant, who almost took Delhi Daredevils home in a low-scoring thriller.
Evin Lewis played a great hand to win West Indies a T20I against a rampaging Pakistan. Shahbaz Nadeem bowled a brilliant spell for Delhi Daredevils in a losing cause, while Watson captained RCB brilliantly and contributed with bat and ball in a low-scoring thriller.
But, here are the players who take the cake.
#1 Kedar Jadhav
Kedar Jadhav continued the form that helped him get a spot in the Indian ODI series. He shone again in Royal Challengers Bangalore’s second outing against Delhi Daredevils, at home, scoring 69 off just 37 balls with five fours and five sixes, single-handedly shouldering RCB’s innings.
Extra Cover: Jadhav gets Bangalore off the mark against Delhi
His blitzkrieg helped RCB to a modest total of 157 when the entire batting failed. Nevertheless, Watson’s captaincy was spot on as RCB defended a low total at Chinnaswamy winning the thriller by 15 runs, with Pawan Negi bowling a brilliant last over.
The importance of Jadhav’s knock is demonstrated by the fact that the next highest score was Shane Watson’s 24. RCB were playing without Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers.
#2 Jason Mohammed
West Indies looked down and out in the first ODI against Pakistan at Guyana. Chasing a massive 308, they were 158 for 4 and later 228 for 5 in the 42nd over. However, Jason Mohammed played the innings of a lifetime, scoring an unbeaten 91 off just 58 balls with 11 fours and 3 sixes.
Extra Cover: Magnificent Mohammed inspires West Indies
He added 70 for the fifth wicket in 47 balls with Jonathan Carter of which the latter scored just 14. West Indies were 259 for 6 requiring 50 more off just 33 balls but they romped home with a full over to spare. This was the 30-year old’s third half-century in only his sixth ODI appearance.
#3 Shakib Al Hasan
Bangladesh’s best cricketer turned in another all-round performance to help Bangladesh equal the T20I series 1-1 against Sri Lanka to end a historic tour for his country on a good note. Playing in Colombo, Shakib, with the bat, top-scored for Bangladesh with a 31-ball 38, pushing his team’s total to 176.
Sri Lanka faltered badly in the chase, capitulating to 131 all out. The key to Bangladesh’s victory was Shakib’s spell as he registered figures of 3-24 in his 4 overs, including the two openers’ wickets.
He was aided massively by Mustafizur Rahman who picked up figures of 4-21. Shakib won the Player of Match for his efforts.
#4 Yuvraj Singh
The defending champions, Sunrisers Hyderabad, made a great start at home against Royal Challengers Bangalore in the opening match of the tournament, thanks to a vintage Yuvraj Singh knock, where he made RCB pay for dropping him. Yuvraj walked in at 93 for 2 in the 11th over and took RCB to the cleaners hitting some sublime shots all around the park.
His 27-ball 62 was studded with seven fours and three sixes. It was also his fastest IPL fifty scored off just 23 balls. Yuvraj’s knock pushed SRH to 207 which proved to be too many for RCB’s batting line-up. Although a lot of their batsmen got starts, they could only manage 172, all out in the 20th over.
Yuvraj was well-supported by Moises Henriques, who scored a half-century too.
#5 Chris Lynn
Playing in Rajkot, Gujarat Lions seemed to have posted a good score of 183. Nevertheless, Kolkata Knight Riders, in their tournament opener, flexed their batting muscle by making mince-meat of the steep total by romping home in just 14.5 overs, winning the match by 10 wickets.
It was a royal thumping thanks to Lynn’s sensational 68-ball 93 in an innings where he hit six fours and eight massive sixes. He was aided ably by his skipper, Gautam Gambhir, who scored a 68-ball 76.
The 26-year old Australian, who made his name for the Brisbane Heat, has a strike-rate of 146.7 in T20 despite a high average of 37, and he showed exactly why his numbers are so good. It helped that Gujarat were short on good bowling experience missing Dwayne Bravo in their attack. Nevertheless, it was an impeccable display of clean hitting from Lynn.
#6 Steve Smith
Smith continued his Bradmanesque form in India even in the IPL as he took his team, Pune Supergiant home, against Mumbai Indians, in a stunning run chase, in their first T20 of this IPL. Batting first, MI posted an impressive 184 in Pune, thanks to Hardik Pandya’s 15-ball 35.
In reply, Smith, who walked in at 35 for 1, remained unbeaten on 84 off just 54 balls as Pune reached the target with one ball to spare. Smith’s 84 included seven fours and three sixes as he added 58 with Rahane. Rahane scored a 34-ball 60 full of gorgeous strokes with six fours and three sixes.
Smith also added 50 for the third wicket with Ben Stokes and made sure Pune never fell behind the required run-rate at any point of time. This was Smith’s first game as the new captain of Pune Supergiant, having replaced MS Dhoni.