The shining stars

As the league phase of the IPL comes to its business end, a host of players make their mark with some brilliant work.

IPL hundreds make for great viewing, but let’s not discount the nineties. You can bowl a maiden, get a hat-trick, and end up with a five-wicket haul in the last over of the game. But dismissing Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers in the same match is an effort that’s worth mentioning too. All of these accomplishments and more in the fifth week of this IPL.

Sandeep Sharma

After sitting out against Sunrisers Hyderabad to “think about his bowling”, as advised by the Kings XI Punjab team director Virender Sehwag, Sandeep Sharma returned to play against Delhi Daredevils (DD). Whatever the thoughts were, they seemed to have benefited him. For Sandeep scalped four batsmen — including three of the top-four — to shut DD out for 67. The next game he removed Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers — something no bowler has ever done.

David Warner

There are days when David Warner detonates and you can’t do much. Kolkata Knight Riders suffered one such Sunday, when Warner blasted 126. Of the 59 balls he faced, he missed only three. Gautam Gambhir tried to stifle him with Sunil Narine. Warner scored 31 off Narine’s 12 deliveries, clubbing him for four fours and a six. With Shikhar Dhawan, he put on 139 of which the former’s share was 29. Sunrisers Hyderabad registered its highest IPL total — 209 — also the highest total by any team against the Knight Riders.

Ben Stokes

The target of 162 versus Gujarat Lions wasn’t out of reach for Rising Pune Supergiant. But, at 10 for three, when Ben Stokes came out to bat, it seemed a tough peak to scale. His partners weren’t of much help either. Rahul Tripathi ran himself out; Mahendra Singh Dhoni struggled to accelerate. In this adversity, Stokes blasted a match-winning 63-ball 103 — his maiden T20 hundred.

Rishabh Pant

“One of the best innings I have seen in the IPL & that includes all 10 seasons,” tweeted Sachin Tendulkar, after witnessing Rishabh Pant’s 43-ball 97 in Delhi Daredevils’ chase of 209 against Gujarat Lions. The target was a tall order and it required relentless hitting. And, Pant did that, even when he was three runs short of a maiden T20 hundred. A little more caution would have led him to the milestone but the 19-year-old Pant was more concerned about lowering his team’s required rate.

Jayadev Unadkat

Jayadev Unadkat, against Sunrisers Hyderabad, had to defend 13 runs in the last over. Bipul Sharma and Rashid Khan, who were in the middle, aren’t finishers with a fearsome reputation. But they both have a T20 strike-rate in excess of 140 and there were four more batsmen to follow. So, Unadkat would’ve been under pressure. But he did what no other bowler in IPL has done before: bowl a last-over maiden with a hat-trick.

Kieron Pollard

The problem with bowling to Kieron Pollard is that he’s too powerful, you can easily be demoralised by his big hits. Amit Mishra would have felt that way, when Pollard bludgeoned him for 26 runs off 11 balls (in his 35-ball 63). Against other batsmen, he gave away only 11 off 13. Pollard, on the other hand, mistimed two of Mishra’s deliveries and still put them beyond the ropes. When he got it right, they reached the second tier.

Compiled by Praveen Sudevan (IPL matches from April 30-May 6)

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