The 11th edition of the IPL has had more than its fair share of drama with close matches, 200-plus totals and incredible performances coming in one after the other.
However, there are some other players who have proven to be of great value to their teams even though they haven’t always hogged the limelight.
Here we take a look at five such underrated performers of IPL 2018.
The Chennai Super Kings off-spinner has shown that there is space for regular finger spinners to flourish in the T20 format. While wrist spinners dominate the wicket takers’ list, Harbhajan sneaks in with six wickets from eight matches. More importantly, his 24.5 overs have gone at 7.16 runs an over, which is excellent given this edition of the IPL has already seen 10 scores in excess of 200.
Sunil Narine bats with nothing to lose. And so he can be fearless.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) April 29, 2018
After his action was reported once again earlier in the year, Kolkata Knight Riders spinner Narine must have been under immense pressure coming into the IPL. Forced to stick to his most basic deliveries, Narine has relied on tight lines and change in pace to take 10 wickets from nine matches at a healthy economy of 7.45. And let’s not forget his 193 runs at the top of the order at a strike rate of 170.
Hardik Pandya is already an established performer not only in the IPL but the international stage as well. However, his brother and Mumbai Indians team-mate Krunal hasn’t done too badly either. In this edition of the IPL, Krunal has picked up eight wickets from nine matches at an economy of 7.16 while scoring 167 runs from seven outings at a strike rate of 150. Worth every penny.
The Mumbai Indians player is one of the more talented batsmen in the domestic circuit but has failed to capture the imagination of fans. Maybe that will change this season after scoring 340 runs from nine innings. With the likes of Rohit Sharma and Evin Lewis struggling, Yadav’s consistency has been the saving grace in what has been a terrible campaign for the defending champions so far.
One of the slowest frontline seam bowlers in the competition but one of the smartest, Sandeep has been brilliant for Sunrisers Hyderabad. Banking exclusively on swing, Sandeep has picked up six wickets from five matches at an economy of 5.3 – a return ODI bowlers would be proud of. The 24-year-old is proof you don’t have to be express quick to be effective in T20s.
Having been set a target of 164 for victory by the Daredevils, Kane Williamson’s men sealed victory with one ball to spare to make it seven wins out of nine.
Here, we look at the key talking points from Sunrisers’ win.
MAXWELL’S UNFORTUNATE DISMISSAL
Australia’s Glenn Maxwell was promoted to the opening position. The attacking batsman started cautiously, taking two singles off the first three deliveries he faced.
After admiring Prithvi Shaw’s sttraight six off Sandeep Sharma, disaster struck for Maxwell thenext ball.
Shaw’s straight-drive to a fuller delivery took a deflection off Sandeep before crashing onto the stumps. The pacer appealed straightaway and the Australian was found short of the crease.
SHAW SHINES AGAIN
India’s U19 World Cup winning skipper Prithvi Shaw hit top gear the moment he was given a place in the playing XI. Carrying on from his outstanding knock of 47 against the Rajasthan Royals, the Daredevils opener showed his brilliance once with an attacking innings.
Starting with the straight six off Sandeep, the right-hander punished the Hyderabad bowlers every time they strayed from their lines. He hit three boundaries and a six off Siddarth Kaul to bring an end to the batting powerplay before registering his second fifty of the tournament with a single off Shakib Al Hasan in the next over.
The youngster’s half-century came off just 25 balls. His sublime knock of 65 (36) was brought to an end by Afghan spinner Rashid Khan.
RASHID KHAN PUTS ON THE BRAKES
Shaw’s quick-fire fifty had put Delhi Daredevils on top and the opener’s partnership with Iyer was blossoming nicely with the run-rate at nearly 10 an over.
The two were threatening to take the match away from the hosts before Rashid Khan showed his class with the ball. The 19-year-old leg-spinner was taken for a few runs in his first over but bounced back strongly. Shaw top-edged an attempted slog as Rashid provided the hosts with the breakthrough.
Rashid was economical once again as the scoring rate came down drastically. He affected a fine run-out off his own bowling in the last over before trapping Rishab Pant in front of the wickets to complete a brilliant spell. He returned with figures of 2-23 off his four overs.
HALES OPENS UP
Alex Hales is as destructive a batsman as they come in T20 cricket and that was a lesson Maxwell learnt the hard way after he dropped the Sunrisers opener in the second over of the chase. Hales skied an attempted pull off Avesh Khan towards Maxwell at deep square-leg but the Aussie let the straightforward chance slip from his grasp.
The Englishman didn’t need a second invitation and he tore apart the same bowler in the final over of the powerplay.
Hales struck three massive sixes off Avesh as 27 runs came off the sixth over. He was looking good for a fifty before being bamboozled by Amit Mishra’s leg-spin for a well made 45 (31).
YUSUF PATHAN’S CAMEO
Like Hales, Yusuf Pathan too was let off before he got going. Vijay Shankar was the culprit as the all-rounder dropped a sitter in the deep after Yusuf looked to smash Liam Punkett out of the ground.
That drop would come back to haunt Iyer’s men as Yusuf’s big blows in the final two overs won it for the Sunrisers. With 28 required of 12 balls for the hosts with seven wickets in hand, the equation was in favour of the Daredevils.
That all changed in penultimate over as Yusuf smashed Trent Boult for a six and a boundary to bring down the equation to 14 off six. The veteran batsman hit Daniel Christian for a huge six and a boundary in the first three deliveries of the last over to pave the way for a thrilling Hyderabad victory.
Despite winning two of their last three matches, defending champions Mumbai Indians know they are still just one defeat away from being knocked out of the tournament.
Kolkata Knight Riders, on the other hand, have overcome their early troubles and come into the game on the back of two consecutive wins.
CHASE MASTERS KOLKATA
In a tournament which has favoured the side batting second so far, the Knight Riders have been the best when it comes to chasing down a total. Dinesh Karthik’s men have so far won four out of five times while batting second, which is the best by any side.
The ease with which they chased down a target of 178 against the formidable Chennai Super Kings in their last outing is a testament to their chasing prowess. MS Dhoni had no answer as the Knight Riders romped to victory with more than two overs to spare. On a Wankhede ground with short boundaries, they will be hoping to bat second once again.
ROHIT AND LEWIS KEY FOR MUMBAI
Evin Lewis started well for the defending champions but has gone off the boil, especially since his wrist injury. Skipper Rohit Sharma himself has been up and down with the bat with couple of stellar knocks thrown in amidst a string of failures.
Together, the two have been dismissed for zero four times so far and their failures with the bat have cost the side dearly at crucial moments. Rohit showed some form in the win over Kings XI Punjab while Lewis was below par. If the two can fire together, there could be trouble for Kolkata.
Mumbai Indians: Evin Lewis, Suryakumar Yadav, JP Duminy, Ishan Kishan (wk), Rohit Sharma (c), Hardik Pandya, Ben Cutting, Kieron Pollard, Mitchell McClenaghan, Mayank Markande, Jasprit Bumrah
Kolkata Knight Riders: Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Robin Uthappa, Shubman Gill, Dinesh Karthik (c, wk), Andre Russell, Rinku Singh, Shivam Mavi, Piyush Chawla, Tom Curran, Kuldeep Yadav