Euro 2020 Special

Chris Gayle to Ben Stokes: Best XI of the Week

From Punjab’s Chris Gayle to Rajasthan’s Ben Stokes, the last Indian T20 League week (October 26 to November 1) saw numerous T20 stalwarts bowing out of the tournament as this edition’s league stages ended for many teams.

However, from batting fireworks to bowling perfection, the week had everything and we bring you the best eleven.



Indian T20 League’s 13th edition turned out to quite insightful for MS Dhoni. After sticking to his proven core of veterans for over a decade, a 39-year-old Dhoni was forced to change his take on the game, thanks to Ruturaj Gaikwad. After the 22-year-old Pune lad was dropped following an underwhelming start in September, he has come back stronger with three consecutive fifties. Two of those half-centuries – 72 vs Kolkata and 62* vs Punjab – came last week as Gaikwad hit 12 fours and three sixes across two matches as Chennai won consecutive matches.



Ben Stokes might not always be the match-winner that Rajasthan can bank on, but the enigmatic Englishman exudes inspiration with both bat and the ball. After his unbeaten 107 helped Rajasthan beat Mumbai last week, Stokes’ fifty was instrumental in keeping Rajasthan within the playoff range as they defeated a high-flying Punjab side. Not only with the bat, but Stokes took two wickets as well to provide the all-round performance that Steve Smith desperately needed. Stokes ends Indian T20 League with a lot of promise for the next.



With Punjab bowing out of the Indian T20 League following their defeat to Chennai last week, the management would be kicking themselves for their decision to keep Chris Gayle out of the playing XI until their seventh league match. Gayle’s unbelievable 99 – which had six boundaries and eight sixes – against Rajasthan will be one of the best memories from this season as the Universe Boss finished with an average of 41.14.



The Mumbai talisman was the talk of the town last week after the top-order batsman was left out of India’s squad travelling to Australia. Indian skipper Virat Kohli was criticized for the same and he took the proceedings a step further by attempting to intimidate Yadav during Bangalore’s clash with Yadav. But Suryakumar looked extremely sure of his abilities as his unbeaten 79 helped Mumbai win the match. With 10 boundaries and three sixes, Yadav was instrumental in a Rohit Sharma-less Mumbai side’s win.



Amidst the polarizing campaign that Kolkata endured this season, Eoin Morgan has been their only constant. Getting handed the captaincy mid-season the 2019 World-Cup winning captain found it difficult to pick Dinesh Karthik’s mess, but Morgan ensured there were no shortcomings in his batting. Kolkata needed a win to keep their playoff hopes alive after losing to Chennai on Thursday, and Morgan was up for it. With Nitish Rana, Sunil Narine, and Karthik, all departing for a duck, Morgan first strung a partnership with Shubman Gill, then Andre Russell and finally Pat Cummins to help Kolkata post a winnable target of 192. He hit five boundaries and six sixes to score 68 off 35.



Hyderabad had struggled with the right team combination the entire whole season and wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha had to bear most of the brunt. After Hyderabad’s clash against Kolkata back in September, Saha’s next chance came last week against Delhi and Bangalore where he was asked to bat top of the order and he wasn’t wasting this chance. After Saha’s magnificent 87 helped Hyderabad beat Delhi, his gritty 39 saw his side defeat Bangalore as well, as Hyderabad stand with a realistic chance of qualifying for the playoffs now. Known for his conservative batting, Saha shocked all with 16 boundaries and three sixes in the two matches.



Whether it be Mumbai’s Keiron Pollard, Delhi’s Marcus Stoinis or Chennai’s Ravinder Jadeja, the Indian T20 League this season has seen teams with effective all-rounders thriving in UAE conditions. Hence, when David Warner welcomed back an in-form Jason Holder to the side, their outcomes were somewhat expected. After a one-sided win over Delhi, Hyderabad needed to beat Bangalore to enter the top four (playoffs). And the orange army saw their towering saviour, coming all guns blazing with both the ball and the bat. After Holder’s 2/27 while bowling had an impressive nine dot balls to limit Bangalore to a paltry 120 runs, he hit a boundary and three sixes to ensure that the job was done.



One of the other Hyderabad players who was at his best last week, as his induvial brilliance reflected in the team’s outcome, was Rashid Khan. While the fast bowling conditions in UAE didn’t help him to have his typical Indian T20 League season with the ball, as has been the case over the last few years, Rashid Khan has still managed to get things done scalping 18 wickets in 13 matches so far. And four of those important dismissals came last week when the Afghan turner took three for just seven runs against Delhi and another one against Bangalore.



With UAE pitches mostly immune to wrist spin, Kolkata have relied on finger-spinners Narine and Chakravarthy this season. And after Narine was cautioned for his bowling action during the Chennai game, Chakravarthy took care of Kolkata’s middle-overs. Like Morgan, Varun Chakravarthy is among the few consistent Kolkata players and it was evident in their loss against Chennai when Varun dismissed Shane Watson and Dhoni to keep the game in Kolkata’s favour for most of the 20 overs. While that didn’t work out, Chakravarthy returned with another brace against Rajasthan as he dismissed the dangerous Jos Buttler and Rahul Tewatia as Kolkata cruised to a 60-run win.



Kolkata’s topsy turvy season has hardly kept the limelight on from Pat Cummins, who has stood up to his 15-crore price tag with his all-round display this season. With Lockie Ferguson giving way to Andre Russel against Rajasthan and Morgan relying on young Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi, Cummins took the onus on himself. Defending a huge 192-run target, Cummins eliminated the threat of Robin Uthappa, Ben Stokes and Steve Smith in quick succession as Rajasthan had lost the game in the batting powerplay itself. He would later remove Riyan Parag to kill Rajasthan’s chances completely. Though Kolkata failed to beat Chennai, Cummins had brilliantly dismissed in-from Ruturaj Gaikwad and Ambati Rayudu to Keep Kolkata in the game until the 19th over.



It is astonishing how Jasprit Bumrah has now managed to lead the purple cap race despite struggling to adapt life in UAE initially. One of the main reasons Mumbai lead comfortably in the points table, Bumrah has been nothing short of magical this, especially last week. The Indian speedster took six wickets across two matches against Bangalore and Delhi, but more importantly, he managed to bowl a whopping 30 dot balls in the 48 legitimate balls available to him in the entire last week. Bumrah now averages 15.73 with the ball at a strike rate of 13.56 with an economy of 6.96.




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