The Indian T20 League 2021 tournament is now in its final stages, with each team having only a few opportunities to secure their berth in the playoffs. While Team Chennai and Team Delhi have almost confirmed a playoff berth, the top-two slots are still open for contention with Virat Kohli’s Team Bangalore and Rohit Sharma’s Team Mumbai close behind. Team Hyderabad, owing to their disastrous performances, is almost out of the contention for the playoffs and can play a major spoilsport for the rest of the teams.
While the first leg of the tournament has been a batter’s paradise given the batting-friendly conditions in India, the second leg of the league has seen some impressive performances from the bowlers, giving fans exciting and close contests. At the mid-point of the second leg of the Indian T20 League 2021, we take a look at the top performances so far:
RUTURAJ GAIKWAD – 88* vs TEAM MUMBAI
The opening fixture between Team Mumbai and Team Chennai in the second leg saw a scintillating performance from Ruturaj Gaikwad, who saved the day for the former champions. Team Chennai were struggling at 24/4 courtesy of dazzling spells from Trent Boult and Adam Milne, who combined to cripple Team Chennai’s extraordinary top-order. But Gaikwad stood firm at one end, as he partnered up with Ravindra Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo in producing an unbeaten 88-run knock to take the team to 156/6 – a total they could then successfully defend.
Ruturaj’s 88* is the highest score for a Team Chennai batsman against Team Mumbai in the Indian T20 League, surpassing Michael Hussey’s record. The youngster has now amassed 362 runs from 10 appearances for Team Chennai and has become a consistent presence at the top alongside Faf du Plessis.
DWAYNE BRAVO – 3/24 vs TEAM BANGALORE
A brilliant bowling performance from Dwayne Bravo against Team Bangalore earned him the ‘Man of the Match’ award for Team Chennai as they returned to the top of the table with a win. Team Bangalore had just been handed a humiliating defeat by Team Kolkata and were keen to get back to winning ways. Devdutt Padikkal teamed up with skipper Virat Kohli to put on a 111-run partnership for the opening wicket, and Team Bangalore looked set to post a huge score. But Dwayne Bravo, the Mr. Dependable for Team Chennai, struck in the middle overs to eliminate Virat Kohli, danger man Glenn Maxwell and Harshal Patel in quick succession to contain Team Bangalore to 156/6 – a target that Team Chennai could then easily chase.
Dwayne Bravo has now taken nine wickets for Team Chennai in six appearances, with an economy of 7.05 – becoming a critical bowling option of Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the middle-overs. While he had far fewer chances to bat, Bravo was able to maintain a whopping strike rate of 268.75 – including four sixes and two fours in the 16 balls he faced.
HARSHAL PATEL’S HAT-TRICK
The Indian T20 League has seen many bowlers break out for Team India over the years – the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzhvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav have all risen into the limelight with their bowling performances in the league. This year’s break-out star is 30-year-old Harshal Patel, currently the purple-cap holder.
Harshal Patel has registered a hat-trick in the 17th over in the game against mighty Team Mumbai, taking the wickets of Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya and Rahul Chahar in quick succession to deliver Team Bangalore a much-deserved victory. Virat Kohli’s side were well on their way to victory even before Harshal Patel struck with the ball, but by removing Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya just before the death overs, he ensured Team Bangalore a comfortable victory.
With 23 wickets from 10 fixtures for Team Bangalore, Harshal Patel has now tied the record of most wickets by an uncapped player in the Indian T20 League. With a five-wicket haul to his name and the purple cap likely to end up in his name, the 30-year-old will now be waiting for a call from the selectors to fulfil his dream of playing for Team India.
KARTIK TYAGI’S FINAL OVER VS TEAM PUNJAB
The Indian T20 League has seen many spectacular final overs in its history, and the fixture between Team Punjab and Team Rajasthan was a witness to another of those special overs. Team Rajasthan, batting first, have posted a total of 185 courtesy of good knocks from Yashasvi Jaiswal and Mahipal Lomror. In reply, Team Punjab looked well on their way to victory – led by a superb 120-run partnership between skipper KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal. Aiden Makram and Nicholas Pooran took the fixture to its final over – when Team Punjab required just four runs off the last six balls when the ball was given to Kartik Tyagi.
Under immense pressure given the stakes for Team Rajasthan, Kartik Tyagi repaid the faith kept in him by Sanju Samson by taking two wickets – both caught by Sanju Samson behind the wickets. He conceded just one run in the final over – giving Team Rajasthan a memorable victory and earning himself the ‘Man of the Match’ award.