IPL stars of the week: Batsmen back with a bang

We take a look at who were the biggest gainers in the third week of the Indian Premier League.

If it’s the Indian Premier League (IPL), every season is a surprise. In its 10th year, the cash-rich league has already found some of the new stars. If the first week belonged to the batsmen, the bowlers bucked up soon to make some noise. However, in the third week, the batsmen once again maintained their dominance. With big runs flowing around, even a Test specialist like Hashim Amla hammered a ton.

Hashim Amla (Kings XI Punjab)

After a rather slow start to the season, the South African batsman has suddenly turned all heads. Shrugging off the ‘Test specialist’ tag, the Kings XI Punjab batsman scored his first century in T20s — a classy unbeaten knock of 104 in 60 balls. Though that was not enough for his team to ease past Mumbai Indians, Amla proved a point. His inclusion in the IPL has always raised eyebrows, and the fact that he failed to make opportunities count only added fuel to the fire. But the first century in a format not tailor-made for him, would definitely boost his morale ahead of the Champions Trophy.

M. S. Dhoni (Rising Pune Supergiant)

When the going gets tough, Mahendra Singh Dhoni gets going! It was not an ideal prelude to the tournament for the former India captain, who was removed from the leadership role of Rising Pune Supergiant. While the franchise brought in Australia skipper Steven Smith as Dhoni’s successor, the wicketkeeper-batsman didn’t quite get off to a flying start in IPL 10. However, things changed completely when he played an unbeaten knock of 61 against Sunrisers Hyderabad, helping his team finish off the game in a thriller. This innings not only gave Dhoni the much-needed confidence, but also helped him earn back the ‘finisher’ tag!

Sunil Narine (Kolkata Knight Riders)

What happens when a mystery spinner suddenly goes on a blitzkrieg with the bat? Well, the answer is — Sunil Narine. The West Indies mystery spinner, who has been Kolkata Knight Riders’ Man Friday for a few seasons now, has appeared in a new avatar this season, albeit with the bat.

Against the Gujarat Lions in Eden Gardens, KKR promoted Narine in the batting order — that too as an opener. And the West Indies star didn’t disappoint. Entertaining the spectators with some lusty shots, Narine hammered 42 in just 17 balls, and it included nine boundaries and a six. Though his side suffered a defeat, Narine made his presence felt with the willow, after some decent outings with the ball.

Chris Gayle (Royal Challengers Bangalore)

It was a week for the Gangnam man to shake a leg! After a forgettable outing in the opening games, Chris Gayle bounced back in style, scoring a flashy knock of 77 in 38 balls, which helped Royal Challengers Bangalore get the better of Gujarat Lions. The blitzkrieg innings also saw Gayle becoming the first cricketer to put up 10,000 runs in the T20 format.

Nitish Rana (Mumbai Indians)

If there is one cricketer who has been consistent in this edition of the IPL, it has to be Nitish Rana. The Mumbai Indians batsman has made his presence felt in almost all the games for his side. In the third week too, he slammed two consecutive half-centuries — 53 against Gujarat Lions and an unbeaten 63 against Kings XI Punjab. With 263 runs from seven games, Rana sits pretty on the second spot of the top run-getters list.

Manan Vohra (Kings XI Punjab)

He hasn’t had a great outing, but Kings XI Punjab batsman Manan Vohra made his presence felt with a classy 95 against Sunrisers Hyderabad. Though his team failed to cross the final hurdle, the young Punjab batsman crafted his innings with some classy shots, even making the cricket experts take him seriously. However, after such an innings, a sickness forced Vohra miss the side’s next game against Mumbai Indians.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Sunrisers Hyderabad)

If the week belonged to the batsmen, Bhuvneshwar Kumar kept the bowling flag waving, claiming a five-for against Kings XI Punjab. This has been a consistent session for the medium pacer, who tops the bowlers list with 16 wickets from seven games.

In a fast and furious format like the T20, one opportunity is crucial and over the last three weeks, there has been enough buzz. And as the league moves to the fourth week, be ready for more noise!

Compiled by Shayan Acharya

(IPL matches from April 16-22)