We aren’t even midway through the 12th edition of the Indian Premier League, but it would be wise to think of it as the West Indian Premier League. You see the Caribbean players boss various T20 leagues across the world for years, but IPL 2019 has been a blockbuster season for them already. T20 cricket is nothing without them. It’s no wonder that West Indies are the only international cricket team to have won 2 World T20 Championships (2012, 2016). The format is their playground. For the longest time, though, it was just Chris Gayle and Sunil Narine exercising their superiority over the IPL.
In 2019, however, let’s take a look at the West Indians owning the Indian Premier League:
Andre Russell (KKR)
You’ll never find any of the Caribbean batsmen (except, perhaps, Gayle) topping the run-charts. But their USP is their game-turning power and stunning assaults – the strike-rates make for alarming reading. Russell in 2019, though, has won 3 IPL games single-handedly for KKR, and he even took up the role of a rebuilder against CSK the other night with a calm 50 off 44 balls. Russell’s innings this season have turned him into more of a batting all-rounder – something he should have always been. But the fact that he has scored 257 runs in 5 innings only goes to prove that the KKR top order isn’t doing his job; Russell hasn’t batted in only one match so far. But the crowds are holding their breath. For the record, Russell averages 128 so far. Want to see him play for KKR live? Book your tickets here: https://in.bookmyshow.com/sports/ipl-kolkata-knight-riders/ET00098359
Chris Gayle (KXIP)
Gayle hasn’t exactly set the IPL alight the way he used to between 2012-2015, but the leading batsman in T20 cricket has scored two murderous fifties in his five innings so far. He hasn’t been at his fittest, but his form before the IPL, as well as his innings against Mumbai Indians on Wednesday night, proved that West Indies will be contenders in England in June. He still has it – it’s just about when he wants to brandish it. His 18 sixes are only second to Russell’s 25 sixes in the league so far.
Kieron Pollard (MI)
The Trinidadian came to the party late, but he has restored his status as a bonafide match-winner in his last two games with his one and only team, Mumbai Indians. His 46 against SRH was like gold dust on a low-scoring pitch, and his stunning 83 (32) against KXIP took his team to the brink of victory after MI needed 133 off the last 10 overs in a high-scoring chase. He smashed 10 sixes, and was particularly severe on English star Sam Curran. What’s more, he was captaining the side, and pulled them out of the doldrums single-handedly with his highest score in the IPL. Pollard is back and how.
Sunil Narine (KKR)
KKR have an MVP amongst their ranks. Narine, the bowler, is not the bowler he once was when he entered the IPL. Batsmen have been able to read him better. But he remains economical, if not a wicket-taker. And perhaps KKR’s best decision in all their years has been to use Narine as a pinch-hitting opener on top. Narine is now an all-rounder. One wonders why he has opened just once with Lynn this season; he scored a barnstorming 47 when he did, and KKR need those jump-starts so that Russell can finish it off in style. Want to see him play for KKR live? Book your tickets here
Alzarri Joseph (MI)
The 22-year-old West Indian bowler made a splash when he filled in for Malinga against SRH, made his IPL debut and ended up with the best-ever figures for an IPL bowler. When Malinga was back, Joseph was still picked over him against KXIP, but oddly didn’t complete his quota of 4 overs. His 2 went for 22, and he was back down to earth days after telling the world his name. But it was his big-hearted batting that came to the fore this time. His unbeaten 15 was precious, especially after Pollard perished in the last over. He got the 2 runs needed off the last ball with a thoughtful on-drive that went past the bowler instead of hitting it straight to the fielder. MI has “accidentally” discovered the star, and now they will do well to keep him.