Recapping The First Two Weeks Of IPL 2019
April 8, 2019
Each year, the months of April and May sees the cricket fans in India split as they gear up to support their respective cities in full force. Cheering for players from a rival country, or hoping for the failure of an Indian international star, the air bears a festive feel with supporters thronging stadiums match-after-match to soak in the atmosphere.
The Indian Premier League 2019 has been no different with cricketers dishing out their best consistently, and the fans getting an opportunity to once again witness and applaud talent up-close. Two weeks into the tournament, and there have already been controversies, some record-breaking performances with a few disappointments as well. Here is a round-up of how teams, stars and young guns have fared in the edition thus far.
Most Impactful Player (Andre Russell, Kolkata Knight Riders): KKR sit atop the table, and the credit needs to go to Russell, whose heroics have allowed the Dinesh Karthik-led side to win as many as three games from improbable situations. In KKR’s season opener against Hyderabad, the West Indian walked in to bat with the home team needing 53 in 18 deliveries – a task that seemed almost impossible. However, a 19-ball 49 from Russell ensured that the target of 182 was chased down with 2 balls to spare. In the next game against Punjab, his 17-ball 48 helped KKR cross the 200-run mark, and he carried on against Delhi as well, making 62 in 28 deliveries. However, his best knock was yet to come. Against RCB, with his side struggling once again, needing 62 to get in 20 balls, Russell walked out and nonchalantly scored 48 in only 13 balls to help KKR over the line with 5 balls remaining! His knock had seven sixes and one four, as the world stood up to applaud the genius of Russell.
Best Performance by an IPL Debutant (Alzarri Joseph, Mumbai Indians): Playing in the game against SRH in place of Lasith Malinga, who had flown back to Sri Lanka, Joseph had a debut to remember, as he finished with 6 for 12 in his 3.4 overs. After Mumbai had made only 136 in their first innings, it required a spirited showing from their bowlers to restrict the duo of Warner and Jonny Bairstow on their home turf, and this is when Joseph rose to the occasion. He dismantled the top-order by sending back Warner and Vijay Shankar in quick succession and then returned to squeeze out the lower middle-order as well. His figures were not only the best by a player on IPL debut – where he surpassed Andrew Tye’s 5 for 17 against Pune in 2017, but it also stands as the best bowling figures registered by any bowler in the league, beating Sohail Tanvir’s 6 for 14 way back in 2008.
Best catch (Keiron Pollard, Mumbai Indians): The West Indian is best known for his acrobatic skills on the field, and it was on display in Mumbai’s match with Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede Stadium. During the fifth over of the CSK innings, Suresh Raina connected a length ball towards deep cover. Pollard, who was positioned in front of the boundary ropes, pulled off a stunning one-handed catch as the visitors lost their third wicket. What was impressive was how the West Indian timed his jump to perfection near the boundary line, which is never easy.
— Fan Of Cricket (@FanOfCricket07) April 3, 2019
Best spell that turned a game around (Sam Curran, Kings XI Punjab): Chasing an easy 168 for a win on a flat track against Kings XI Punjab, Delhi Capitals were comfortably placed at 138 for 3, needing 30 runs in 24 balls with seven wickets in hand – an equation that would have hardly bothered the Delhi side. However, the carnage started in the 17th over, as Mohammad Shami picked up Rishabh Pant’s wicket and then Ravichandran Ashwin got Chris Morris run-out with a direct throw. The visiting team collapsed to 144 for 5, but it is the next over, bowled by Curran, that needs a mention here. The Englishman, playing his second IPL game, removed Colin Ingram and then scalped Harshal Patel on the last ball. He returned to bowl the last over, picking up Rabada and Sandeep Lamichhane off successive balls to complete his hattrick, finishing with 4 for 11. More importantly, Delhi lost their last seven wickets for only 8 runs, and managed to lose a game that was in their grasp by 14 runs!
Biggest disappointment (Kuldeep Yadav, Kolkata Knight Riders): The chinaman bowler’s exploits across formats on the international stage is a stuff of legends, and his rise for Team India in the last one year was nothing short of inspiring. Kuldeep had been KKR’s go-to bowler in crunch situations over the years as well, having picked up 35 wickets in 31 games till 2018. However, his performances have been disappointing this season, as he has picked up only 3 wickets in 5 games, with best figures of 2 for 41. What has made it even worse is that Kuldeep has been on the expensive side while bowling as well – his economy rate of 8.61 this year is the highest that he has bowled in a season. His strike-rate stands at 36, up from 18.11 last year, and the franchise would want their star player to find his way back soon.
Best uncapped performer (Nitish Rana, Kolkata Knight Riders): KKR’s top-order had looked fragile with Chris Lynn yet to find his form and Sunil Narine grappling with an injury. Rana, who had been consistent in 2018 as well, took on the responsibility of playing an anchor’s knock in the first two games of IPL 2019, smashing 68 against SRH and following it up with a knock of 63 against Punjab. After the early loss of wickets, his innings on both occasions allowed the team to build a solid foundation, which then allowed Russell to flourish in the death overs. He followed it up with a quick-fire 37 against RCB, and with the other uncapped players not yet finding their straps, it is only Rana who has stood out for his mature batting under pressure. Outside shot for the India’s Cricket World Cup squad?
Controversies that have spiced IPL 2019: The very first week of IPL 2019 saw Ravichandran Ashwin in news as he mankaded Jos Buttler, which divided the cricketing realm. While one half – including MCC felt that his act was unsporting, the other believed that he played according to the rules, and had every right to mankad non-striker Buttler, who was way out of his crease. The other incident that drew ire was when Lasith Malinga bowled a no-ball that wasn’t called in the last ball of the game between Mumbai and RCB. RCB needed six runs to win off the last ball, when the Sri Lankan over-stepped but the on-field umpires failed to call it out, leading to great angst in the RCB camp, who are still awaiting their first win after six games.