T20 stalwarts like Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer, who lit up the Indian T20 League over the past few weeks with some scintillating cricket, will not be a part of the playoffs starting from November 5. However, their individual brilliance was quintessential in making the makeshift edition a resounding success.
Here’s looking at the best eleven cricketers who kept the league stages nail-biting until the very last day.
KL RAHUL (Punjab)
KL Rahul’s campaign this season hardly reflects that of Punjab. An inexperienced captain, Rahul knew only one way to lead his side – with the bat – and he did that magnificently. Regardless of his side’s elimination from the league stages, the Karnataka batsman still tops the orange cap race with a whopping 670 runs from 14 matches. Rahul ended the season with one century and five fifties with an average of 55.83.
CHRIS GAYLE (Punjab)
Yet another Punjab batsman, whose stupendous form with the willow hardly does justice to his team’s sixth-place finish in the points table. Some poor decision making by the Punjab management meant Gayle played only seven matches after their season was almost beyond repair. However, the towering southpaw still tallied 288 runs with an average of 41.14, hitting three fifties and almost a century. Punjab won five of the seven matches that he played.
FAF DU PLESSIS (Chennai)
With Suresh Raina unavailable for the season and Ambati Rayudu struggling with injuries in the initial few matches, MS Dhoni had to rely on South Africa’s Faf du Plessis to be both the opener and the anchor for them. And the veteran batsman carried out his task diligently, scoring 449 runs with an average of 40.81, at a time when he hardly saw a teammate partnering him at the other end. He scored four fifties this season.
MAYANK AGARWAL (Punjab)
A third Punjab batsman in the top order of the list says highly about the team they had and their failure to seal a playoff place regardless of that. Known for his disciplined red-ball batting, Mayank Agarwal changed opinions this season with his thunderous hitting while opening with Rahul. While Rahul remained the anchor, Agarwal took the aggressive route hitting 424 runs in 11 matches, which included one century and two fifties, with an average of 38.54. His magical super over fielding against Mumbai also remains a cameo for the season.
EOIN MORGAN (Kolkata)
The ICC 2019 World-Cup winning skipper was supposed to test the waters as he had last played in the tournament back in 2017. But, Eoin Morgan ended up getting the captaincy mid-season, as Dinesh Karthik stepped down, and his team’s frequent top order crumble saw the southpaw coming to bat in unusual positions to steady the ship. However, Morgan still managed to score 418 runs in 14 games with an average of 41.80 and exhibited enough captaincy acumen to extend his stint next season that is coming five months later.
NICHOLAS POORAN (Punjab)
Nicholas Pooran was the silent assassin that Punjab relied on throughout the season. While Rahul and Agarwal were successful openers for most of the campaign, Pooran was the camp’s best hope when they faltered. Coming in the middle-order, Pooran had to direct the tempo of the innings and he did that pretty well, scoring 353 runs with an average of 35.30 and a strike rate of 169.71. It is really impressive that he managed two fifties despite his batting positions.
BEN STOKES (Rajasthan)
Rajasthan could avail Ben Stokes’ services midway into their season, and consequently, their playoff chances were almost done. However, the English all-rounder had wasted no time in providing the much-needed impetus to his side as he managed to score 285 runs in eight matches with an average of 40.71. His fitness concerns, though, kept his bowling less effective as he could take only two wickets in eight matches. But, his unbeaten 107 against Mumbai will remain Rajasthan’s high-point of the season.
RAHUL TEWATIA (Rajasthan)
If there’s an uncapped Indian player who has become a household name this season of the Indian T20 League, it has to be Rahul Tewatia. Hardly anyone knew his name when the tournament started in September and by the time Rajasthan were concluding their campaign, viewers were glued to their TV sets until Tewatia returned to the pavilion. It all started with “that innings” against Punjab and Tewatia soon became a mainstay for his side, ending up with 255 runs and 10 wickets to his name in 14 matches.
VARUN CHAKRAVARTHY (Kolkata)
With Sunil Narine being nothing more than a shadow of himself since 2014 Kolkata were desperately looking for another mystery spinner to extend their legacy, and Varun Chakravarthy couldn’t have come at a better time. With the squad going through a rebuild, the finger spinner showed glimpses of his genius by taking 17 wickets in 13 matches with an economy of 6.84. Chakravarthy’s bowling figures like 5-20 vs Delhi and 2-20 against Chennai and Rajasthan have defined Kolkata’s season.
JOFRA ARCHER (Rajasthan)
While Rajasthan could only play like a second-string side this season, Jofra Archer was the only player on their side to turn up like a champion match after match. Archer showed the way for other bowlers in the tournament with his lethal yorkers and bouncers from day one, some of which were unplayable. Archer ended up taking 20 wickets after 14 matches with an economy rate of 6.55. His mind-boggling figures of 3-24 and 3-19 vs Delhi and 1-19 vs Kolkata, will be Rajasthan’s high points this season.
MOHAMMED SHAMI (Punjab)
While Punjab’s batting has taken the limelight away from most of the other players, Mohammed Shami has shone with some unparalleled bowling show. The only bowler from the Punjab camp who stood up to the elite Jasprit Bumrah and Kagiso Rabada with his fierce missiles, Shami has taken 20 wickets in 14 matches. Though his two-fers and three-fers have been largely responsible in keeping Punjab in the competition till the very last, it was his super over against Mumbai that reincarnated Shami as a T20 bowler again.
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