The 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) ended on Tuesday as defending champions Mumbai Indians thrashed first-time finalists Delhi Capitals by five wickets, thereby clinching a record fifth title.
The franchise T20 tournament was shifted to the UAE amid the growing COVID-19 cases in India. But still, there were concerns over its feasibility and longevity, especially after multiple players and contingent members of CSK reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus.
Putting behind the CSK scare, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) with cooperation from the Emirates Cricket Board, successfully conducted another season of the cash-rich league, albeit behind closed doors. More importantly, the tournament gave people a chance to shift from the prime-time negativity that dominated air space.
From three Super Overs in a single day to the fastest delivery in the history of the lucrative league (156.2 kmph clocked by DC’s Anrich Nortje), and from the six-fest at Sharjah in the RR-CSK game, where a total of 33 sixes were smashed by the teams (a joint record, equalling the CSK vs RCB clash in 2018) to RCB’s 82-run revenge win (for the 2017 season) over KKR – IPL 2020 had all of this, and much more.
The icing on the cake was that it was one of the most closely contested editions of the IPL, where three of the final four teams were not known till the final two league matches.
And just like every season, IPL 2020 was graced by some brilliant individual performances. Amongst these individuals, a select few stood out in the sense that they consistently dished out match-winning performances for their respective teams.
Here, we take a look at the 10 biggest hits of IPL 2020:
KXIP skipper KL Rahul, the Orange Cap winner in IPL 2020, was in a league of his own. His team failed to make the playoffs, and despite playing only 14 matches, the right-hander amassed 670 runs. Sample this: The in-form Shikhar Dhawan, second only to Rahul, played three more matches and yet, finished with 618 runs.
Averaging 55.83, the stylish right-hander set lofty standards with the bat, both for his teammates and opponents. However, he was criticised for his strike rate in the middle of the tournament. Saying “strike rate is overrated”, the Karnataka batsman shrugged off such comments and still finished with a healthy strike rate of 129.34.
The Universe Boss Chris Gayle did join the party as soon as he got a go. Earlier, Mayank did well while partnering Rahul at the top. But the 28-year-old was the vital cog, around whom KXIP’s batting line-up revolved.
His best knock – 132 off 69 balls against RCB – was also the highest individual score of IPL 2020.
Picking up 30 wickets from 17 matches, Kagiso Rabada finally got his hands on the Purple Cap after narrowly missing out on it last season.
He was potent at the death, picking up most of his wickets during that phase. Rabada and his South African compatriot Nortje formed one of the most lethal bowling pairs and bowled with menacing pace throughout the season.
Despite wickets keeping slow and low in the UAE, Rabada lived up to his reputation of being one of the world’s best pacers and boasted of the best strike rate (13.13) among the top 10 bowlers in the competition.
He led DC’s bowling attack with aplomb and played a huge role in leading the franchise to its maiden final. It wasn’t easy to score runs off the 25-year-old and so, the likes of Warner, who took the attack to him, can be proud of themselves.
The South African’s best spell (4/24) came against the RCB, wherein he ran through their batting line up with pace and accuracy.
“He (Shikhar Dhawan) has really led the way for us this year,” said Marcus Stoinis as he lavished praise on his teammate during the tournament. There is definitely substance to back up what Stoinis said.
The flamboyant left-hander, who is known for being a big match player, was DC’s leading run-getter (second-highest in the tournament), with an impressive average of 44.14 and a strike of 144.73.
The Delhi batsman scored briskly in the powerplay overs, getting Delhi off to flying starts, despite the inconsistent run of his partners Prithvi Shaw and Ajinkya Rahane. Dhawan’s knack of scoring big was evident from his back-to-back centuries against CSK and KXIP – a record in IPL’s history.
The senior India batsman played a pivotal role (alongside Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Shreyas Iyer) in leading DC to their maiden final.
India’s yorker specialist Jasprit Bumrah continues to grow in stature. He had already established himself as one of the best limited-overs bowlers in the world, and the recently concluded IPL season also indicates that he is here to stay.
The speedster was in sublime form in IPL 2020 and finished as the second-highest wicket-taker, with 27 wickets from 15 matches. Bumrah was just as effective upfront, as he was at the death, and troubled the likes of Dhawan, who was one of the most successful batsmen in the competition.
Most rival franchises played out his overs with caution, as was evident from his economy rate of 6.73, and yet, Bumrah executed his plans with finesse.
In terms of striking at regular intervals and picking up crucial breakthroughs, the impact made by him was second to none. His average of 14.96, even better than Rabada’s, proves his effectiveness with the ball.
The 26-year-old bowled his best IPL spell (4/14) in Qualifier 1 against DC, where he cleaned up Dhawan and Stoinis. Bumrah’s form bodes well for India going into the Australia tour.
David Warner started his IPL 2020 right where he left off in the previous edition. This season, he did not finish as the Orange Cap holder, but he was at his usual consistent best in the IPL, amassing 548 runs from 16 matches at an average of 39.14.
The left-hander had to let go of his aggression in quite a few matches and play the anchor’s role. Still, more often than not, he single-handedly took his team past the finish line. Not only did he finish third on the run-scoring charts, but his strike rate of 134.64 also took the pressure off his fellow batters.
His best knock came against the MI, wherein he stuck 85 of just 58 balls and powered his team to a 10-wicket win.
Besides being an assuring presence with the bat, the Australian was wise with his on-field decisions and led the ‘Orange Army’ to the No 3 position on the points table.
Ever since he made his debut in 2017, Rashid Khan has bamboozled majority of the top-quality batsmen in the tournament. Not only does he have a knack of picking up wickets, the Afghan leggie also stems the flow of runs. This season was no different.
The 22-year-old took 20 wickets from 16 matches, becoming the tournament’s fifth-highest wicket-taker. Oppositions had to structure their innings keeping in mind the ‘Rashid threat’, and more often than not, they saw off the leggie. His impressive economy rate of 5.37, the best among the top-10 wicket-takers, is a case in point.
While defending a target of 220 against DC in the tournament, the leg spinner returned with dream figures of 3/7 and bowled 17 dots.
Rashid was ably supported by the likes of T Natarajan, Sandeep Sharma and Jason Holder.
AB de Villiers
Unlike his South African compatriot and RCB teammate Dale Steyn, AB De Villiers showed that he still has enough gas left in the tank.
The percentage of his unorthodox shots was lesser this season, but ABD was just as explosive and often proved to be the point of difference in his side’s victories. While his skipper and young Padikkal finished with more runs than him, the impact ‘Mr 360’ had was second to none.
The South African’s ability to demolish the opposition’s bowling attack is evident from his strike rate (158.74) – the best among the top 10 batsmen in the tournament. As far as his wicketkeeping is concerned, the 36-year-old seemed agile as ever.
The wicketkeeper-batsman was at his brutal best in the game against KKR, where he struck 73 off just 33 balls. In another game against RR, RCB needed 53 off 20 balls, and another blitzkrieg from Mr 360 helped Kohli’s men snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Ishan Kishan, MI’s most successful batsman, ended the tournament as fifth-highest run-getter. With a staggering average of 57.33, he amassed 516 runs from 14 matches. The striking feature though has been the pace at which he has scored these runs – with a strike rate of 145.76 (the second-best among the top 10 batsmen in the tournament after AB de Villiers).
Ishan also slammed the most sixes (30) by any batsman in the competition, highlighting his big-hitting prowess and ability to change gears at will.
The left-hander made a massive impact, consistently rescuing his franchise in crunch situations. His best knock (99 off 58 balls) came against RCB early in the tournament, where he helped MI drag the match into the Super Over, despite chasing a mammoth target of 202.
An attacking wicketkeeper-batsman, Ishan has been knocking on the Indian selectors’ door for quite a while now. He is a sure-shot contender for the wicketkeeper-batsman’s slot for India in the limited-overs, apart from Sanju Samson and Rishabh Pant.
RCB made it to the playoffs after a hiatus of three years and Yuzvendra Chahal, their bowling mainstay, had a key role to play in the franchise’s run.
After missing RCB’s initial games due to a side strain, Chris Morris announced his arrival with bang, picking 4/26, but could not last till the end. Washington Sundar was the most economical of the RCB bowlers and played a crucial role in the powerplay, but did not take as many wickets. Siraj’s only highlight was the spell of his lifetime (3/8, including two consecutive maiden overs).
But Chahal, Virat Kohli’s trump card, consistently got crucial breakthroughs and spun the games in his team’s favour.
With 21 wickets from 15 matches, the leggie finished as the fourth-highest wicket-taker of the tournament.
Chahal’s best spell (3/18) came against SRH in Match 3, wherein he rattled the stumps of a well-set Jonny Bairstow and Vijay Shankar in the 16th over to turn the contest on its head.
Devdutt Padikkal was in sublime form in the 2019-20 Indian domestic season, where he finished as the leading run-getter in both the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament and the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
The 19-year-old carried his rich vein of form on to the IPL 2020. He struck 473 runs, including five half-centuries, and now holds the record for the most runs by an uncapped Indian in a debut season.
While both Aaron Finch and Josh Phillipe, Padikkal’s opening partners, blew hot and cold, the left-hander consistently provided RCB with solid starts. In a team that had the likes of Kohli and AB de Villiers, the young southpaw finished as their leading run-getter (sixth-highest in the tournament).
Post RCB’s win over RR, the skipper heaped praise on the left-hander. “There wasn’t much to reveal (to Devdutt) and I told Simon (Katich) this guy has got serious talent, reach, and a great eye. And a left-hander, very clean shots. You hardly feel he’s taking risks, you get that feeling rarely at this level.”
RCB have unearthed a promising youngster that could serve them for years to come. Keep an eye out for him!