Ardent fans of cricket would agree with me when I say that every year, at the end of the Indian Premier League, it makes us wonder what we are going to do and how we are going to spend our time in the evening after witnessing all the action, all the drama that enfolded in the previous 54 days of jaw dropping, nail biting, mind blowing cricket matches. And now, it’s over!
A result, which not many of us would have dared to predict, as the Knights overpowered the Kings in their own backyard. Dhoni would have been wondering what went wrong. He won the toss, his team put up a formidable total of 190 on the board and they were playing in their home ground. The answer to his question was Manvinder Singh Bisla who stood like a rock and when required flowed like a stream which was quite alike as to how he executed those lofted extra cover drives.
At the culmination of yet another edition, we are now going to look at those players who emerged as rising stars for their respective nations or some greats who believe that they have still got it or those who were dropped, beaten and in the dark but are now back at their best!
1. Ajinkya Rahane
If there is one person who has grabbed this opportunity with both hands is the young boy from Mumbai, Ajinkya Rahane. Though he is still young in age, he possess a temperament which is equivalent to those who have played in the international level for quite a while. A future prospect for India, he does require some grooming but that will only happen once he is given a chance. Now that Dravid is gone, he could give Kohli a run for his money for the prestigious No.3 spot.
2. Chris Gayle
The fact that still confounds me is as to why the WICB can’t reach an agreement with him. He is in the finest nick of his career, he is enjoying his cricket and he should be representing his national team on the ground as we speak. The “Gayle storm” occurred quite frequently this IPL with the big man amassing more than 700 runs and scored 51 sixes! That’s insane!! It was pretty disappointing not to seem him in the play offs but that’s just the way things turn out to be sometimes.
3. Mandeep Singh
It’s the first shot at fame for Mandeep Singh as he won The Citi Rising Player of the Tournament Award for his consistent performances while representing the King’s X1 Punjab this season. In Gilchrist’s absence he was given the responsibility to get his team off to a flyer and he did that more often than not. It’s a little early to judge but I certainly look forward to see more of him.
4. Steve Smith
The Superman from Australia turned a few heads his way during the initial part of the tournament though he struggled to maintain that image as time went by. His acrobatic efforts in the fields as he “flew” around to prevent the ball from crossing the boundary made sure that people take notice of him. Apart from that, he rescued his team from the swamps a couple of times in the early stages and steered them to victory.
5. Shikhar Dhawan
He scored a duck in his first match while wearing the blues for India and nobody took the effort to keep track of him after that. Representing the Deccan Chargers this season, he got a chance to open the batting and was assured that he would play every match. And this Delhi lad knew that this was it. Like all left handers, he is elegant and relies on pure timing. Although it is unlikely for him to earn a spot right now, if he keeps this performance going in the domestic circuit, he will be back in the reckoning.
6. Cameron White
Once upon a time, he was the captain of Australia’s T20 side and now he is not even in the squad. A fairy tale beginning ended in a disaster for White. Like his compatriot, Shane Watson, he has utilized this opportunity to knock on the doors of the selectors again. It was a delight to watch him bat in a care free manner and hit those powerful shots over the bowler’s head for a six.
7. Dale Steyn
He is without the doubt the best fast bowler in the world according to me. On more than one occasion, he produced some breath taking spells that had batsmen either running for cover or jumping around trying to play his deadly out swing deliveries. I feel a little sorry for him since he received no support from the other end at all.
8. AB De Villers
If Dale Steyn is the best bolwer in the world right now then AB De Villiers has to be the best batsman in the world! Never in the wildest of my dreams could I have ever imagined that such a mockery would be made out of Steyn. De Villiers scored 23 runs in his over and not even one shot was inside edged or a fluke. Everything came out of the middle of the bat and went where it was intended to go. That was one innings that blew my mind away!
9. Virender Sehwag
For a long time, a lot of questions have been asked over his consistency. This year he scored 5 consecutive half centuries and maintained a strike rate of over 160 which is astonishing. His team were the favourites to win but a few tactical errors from their side led to their downfall.
Captain Intense. This is his new nickname. Rarely did he flash a smile while on the field but he ensured that his bat gave lots to cheer for the Kolkatta fans and their owner,SRK. He led from the front, emerged as one the highest run getters and led his team to victory if the fifth edition of DLF IPL.
11. Faf Du Plessis.
He would be mourning at his fate. A stomach upset meant that he had to be dropped and in came Mike Hussey who is impossible to replace. Before Hussey’s arrival, he was the mainstay in Chennai’s batting. While all the batsmen flopped around him, he held his nerve and went onto score some fine half centuries.
He was one bowler whom everyone had a problem figuring out. I had watched him bowl a while ago but he didn’t seem to be so threatening back then. IPL was a totally different story. He has grown in confidence and was named as the “mystery bowler” and was exceptional throughout the tournament.
13. Morne Morkel
The tall, fast bowler from South Africa earned the purple cap by picking up 25 wickets this season. His short of a length deliveries caused trouble to a lot of high quality batsmen. In a baffling move in which he was made to sit out in the play offs meant that Delhi had virtually handed the match to Chennai.
What do I say about him! He is one of the best in the business. Everytime Harbhajan wanted a wicket, he threw the ball to Malinga asking for one and rarely did Malinga disappoint his captain. His toe crushing yorkers along with extremely deceptive slower ones made it very difficult for the batsmen to read him.
15. Rahul Dravid
Yes, I am talking about “The Wall” and yes I have included his name in the star’s list. The reason being- he scored 8 consecutive scores of over 25 ,had six 50- run partnerships with Rahane and scored over 400 runs. Almost every time, he ensured that his team got off to a solid start and after the powerplay ended, he was more than willing to throw his wicket away. He would either get the runs or would make the long walk back. His selflessness earned him a spot in the star’s list for me.