IPL 2018 Review: Kane Williamson and MS Dhoni among our most valuable players of the season

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Dhoni and Williamson have led by example. Image: BCCI.

The league stage of IPL 2018 is over and we now prepare for the final week of the 11th edition of the tournament. A few players have enthralled us with their performances that have been critical to the fortunes of their teams.

While the IPL charts show who the top run-scorers and wicket-takers of IPL 2018 are, they aren’t necessarily the most valuable performances of this edition. The impact that players have had and the situation in which they have performed is of far greater value.

So here are our picks for the most valuable efforts of IPL 2018 so far.

MOST VALUABLE BATSMAN

Kane Williamson (SRH)

Matches: 14, Runs: 661, Avg: 60.09

The Kiwi is the glue that has held Sunrisers Hyderabad’s batting together. Entrusted with leading the side after star batsman and leader David Warner was made unavailable following the ball-tampering scandal, Williamson has been exemplary in front of the wickets. His runs have come at a strike rate of 143, which shows you don’t need to have a big power game to score heavily and quickly.

The match in which Delhi Daredevils batsman Rishabh Pant scored an unbeaten 128, Williamson steered the chase of 188 with a 53-ball 83. Working the ball in the gaps and relying on timing more than anything else have set him apart this season.

MOST VALUABLE BOWLER

Bumrah's economy was less than seven an over. Image: BCCI.

Bumrah’s economy was less than seven an over. Image: BCCI.

Jasprit Bumrah (MI)

Matches: 14, Wickets: 17

Sure, bowlers like Andrew Tye (24) and Umesh Yadav (20) have picked up more wickets but the Mumbai Indians seamer has a few scalps of his own while his economy of 6.8 is the lowest among all bowlers who have taken at least 10 wickets. It’s lower than even Mujeeb ur Rahman (6.9).

He was at his best in the match against Kings XI where Mumbai won by three runs defending 187. While every other bowler was hammered, Bumrah gave away just 15 runs from his four overs and picked up three wickets. If you are given a choice of picking one seamer in a T20 match, chances are you will go with Bumrah.

MOST VALUABLE CAPTAIN

MS Dhoni (CSK)

It was an emotional return to the IPL for Chennai Super Kings. Around 20,000 fans turned up for the team’s training before the start of the tournament. Their practice match saw a full house. The team was full of veteran stars well over the age of 30, with captain Dhoni himself 36. Then Chennai lost their home venue due to crowd trouble as matches were shifted to Pune.

That’s enough to overwhelm the best in the business. But Dhoni is better than the best. He not only overcame the home base setback, he turned experience to the team’s advantage and himself led the way with some of the most breath-taking batting seen from the skipper in a long time as Chennai stormed to the play-offs.

MOST VALUABLE YOUNGSTERS

Rishabh Pant (DD) and Mujeeb ur Rahman (KXIP)

rish-muj

There were many incredible performances from the next generation of cricketers this IPL. Nepal spinner Sandeep Lamichhane took three wickets in his final game for Delhi Daredevils, begging the question why wasn’t he blooded in earlier. Mumbai Indians keeper Ishan Kishan and Daredevils opener Prithvi Shaw showed flashes of brilliance to raise hopes for the future.

But looking at the level they are expected to reach very soon in their national team, Delhi batsman Pant and Kings XI’s Afghan spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman emerge as MVY. Left-handed Pant has long been seen as a natural successor to MS Dhoni and his 684 runs this season show that it’s time he is given more responsibility with the senior team.

Afghan spinner Mujeeb entered the tournament with a lot of promise from the Under19 level and he even managed to match the efforts of his ‘senior’ compatriot Rashid Khan by picking up 14 wickets from 11 games at under seven an over.

MOST VALUABLE INTERNATIONAL PLAYER

Jos Buttler (RR)

Rajasthan Royals wicketkeeper Jos Buttler was a bit of a passenger in the early part of the tournament. He was batting lower down the order and struggled to add to the scorecard. Then the management decided to throw caution to the wind and have him open the innings. What followed was a run of five consecutive fifties, which matches the record set by Virender Sehwag.

Buttler doubled up a wicketkeeper, which made him invaluable for the Royals. Such was his impact that England selectors were forced to call him back to the Test team just as a batsman.

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Live cricket blog: Advantage Chennai Super Kings in first Qualifier

Alex Broun 21/05/2018
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Catch the latest happenings in the world of cricket.

Alex Broun and the rest of the Sport360 team are in place to provide you with the latest news, comment and analysis on all things cricket.

Our daily blog will ensure you have all the latest updates throughout the week but we want you to get involved, too.

Tell us your thoughts on what’s happening by tweeting @Sport360.

9:45pm – Advantage Chennai 

Chennai Super Kings hold the upper hand as they play Sunrisers Hyderabad in the first Qualifier of the IPL on Tuesday.

Chennai won their last game against Punjab while Hyderabad have now lost three in a row after being the first team to qualify.

For the full match preview, click here.

9:00pm – Amir proves match fitness

Pakistan pacer Mohammad Amir proved his match fitness ahead of the first Test against England at Lord’s.

Amir had been struggling with a knee injury but he bowled at full pace as his team-mated played a practice  match against Leicestershire on Sunday.

Read the full report here.

8:00 pm – Top emerging talents in IPL 2018

Kings XI Punjab’s Afghan spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman was the most promising player to emerge from the league phase of the IPL.

The leg spinner struggled with a hand injury just as Punjab were fighting for qualification but it was nonetheless a fine effort from the teen.

Here are the top picks.

2:35pm – Cricket chiefs may scrap the toss

In a move sure not to be popular with cricket purists, international cricket chiefs are considering scrapping the toss before Test matches as part of measures to boost the flagging fortunes of the long form of the game, reports say.

Britain’s Times newspaper said the International Cricket Council (ICC) believes such a measure would help reinvigorate the five-day format, whose popularity has waned in the face of the challenge from Twenty20 and one-day cricket.

10:29am – The IPL final four is decided and CSK look hard to beat

The final two matches in the preliminary rounds of IPL 2018 were completed yesterday and the Rajasthan Royals would have been nervously sitting on their hands and knees all day and night.

But with the Delhi Daredevils first ending the Mumbai Indians campaign and then a superb spell of fast bowling from Lungi Ngidi propelling the Chennai Super Kings to a comfortable victory over Kings XI Punjab – Rajasthan could finally relax and start preparing for the Eliminator against Kolkata Knight Riders on Wednesday.

It may however all be in vain as Sport360 cricket writer Denzil Pinto believes the Super Kings will be hard to catch in the semi-finals. CSK meet the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the first Qualifier on Tuesday night.

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IPL 2018 Preview: Chennai Super Kings have the edge in first Qualifier against Sunrisers Hyderabad

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Ngidi was devastating against Punjab. Image: BCCI.

Chennai Super Kings hold the upper hand as they take on Sunrisers Hyderabad in the first Qualifier of the IPL on Tuesday.

The Super Kings won the last match of the league phase, defeating play-offs hopefuls Kings XI Punjab by five wickets in a dominating performance. Fast bowler Lungi Ngidi snared 4-10 to decimate the Punjab batting line-up as Chennai ticked most boxes.

The Sunrisers had long qualified for the play-offs. However, complacency seems to have set in as they lost three matches in a row to take sheen off their stellar performance in the tournament.

Momentum changes quickly in a packed tournament like the IPL and the Super Kings know Hyderabad will be on the back foot as their campaign has suddenly gone off track.

ACE OF PACE

Both teams have a strong pace attack but Chennai have a clear edge. Sunrisers will rely on Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Sandeep Sharma and Siddarth Kaul. That’s a reliable fast bowling quartet but Chennai Super Kings have an ace up their sleeve – South African Ngidi.

The burly quick decimated Kings XI Punjab with a hostile spell and if he finds rhythm on Tuesday, the Sunrisers batsmen will find the going tough. Complementing him is Deepak Chahar who has a great record this season – nine wickets at an economy of 7.3.

CAPTAIN v CAPTAIN

Dhoni and Williamson are two of the finest captains in the game. Image: BCCI.

Dhoni and Williamson are two of the finest captains in the game. Image: BCCI.

The teams are being led by two of the finest captains in the game. While Dhoni pretty much owns the IPL landscape and is the undisputed lord of the Chennai manor, Williamson has risen to the challenge of David Warner’s absence brilliantly by steering Sunrisers’ batting.

Both Dhoni (446 runs) and Williamson (661) have been unstoppable with the bat and the runs they score on Tuesday in Mumbai could have a major say in who makes a direct entry to the final.

In team news, Chennai might be inclined to drop England batsman Sam Billings as he has failed to get going for the better part of the tournament.

Sunrisers have an even bigger headache with Manish Pandey and Yusuf Pathan forming a fragile middle order batting line-up. They might be forced to move Shakib Al Hasan higher up the order or use Deepak Hooda as a power hitter.

Likely line-ups

Sunrisers Hyderabad: Shikhar Dhawan, Alex Hales, Kane Williamson (capt), Shreevats Goswami, Manish Pandey, Deepak Hooda, Shakib Al Hasan,  Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rashid Khan, Sandeep Sharma, Siddarth Kaul

Chennai Super Kings: Ambati Rayudu, Shane Watson, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (capt, wk), Faf du Plessis, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar, Harbhajan Singh, Shardul Thakur, Lungi Ngidi

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