14 IPL games down, and we already have enough to write a cricket (tournament) book about. The 12th edition of the Indian Premier League may have started slowly, but it has certainly exploded in the last few days, with all the 8 teams playing as if it were the business end of the group stages with a place in the playoffs at stake. Centuries have been scored, miraculous innings have been played, a Super Over has been bowled, the ball of the year has been bowled, and some excellent spells have been watched. CSK, of course, leads the table again with 3 wins in 3, while the others are playing catch-up as usual.
Here are 5 things we learned from the opening week of IPL 2019:
INDIA’S FUTURE IS SECURE
There have been three outstanding innings by Indian batsmen in the first week of this IPL. One of the most beautiful, elegant centuries in IPL history was scored by the omnipresent Sanju Samson, the 23-year-old batsman who is yet to capitalize on his god-gifted talent. He caressed the SRH bowlers all over the field but ended up on the losing side. The second was by 18-year-old Prithvi Shaw, who fell one run short of becoming the youngest ever IPL centurion. His 99 against KKR was stroke-filled and high-backlift-filled; he will be India’s regular Test opener once he returns to the side. The third was Rishabh Pant’s stunning 78 against MI in their season opener; Pant is the most accomplished T20 batsmen out of the lot. If Shubman Gill were to bat in the KKR top order, he would be in this list too.
RUSSELL IS THE BEST
Andre Russell is in the form of his life. His first three innings for KKR this IPL have been 49, 48 and 64 – at a mind-bending strike-rate of more than 220. He has bowled fast and has dragged KKR to two wins out of three. His only blip came when he failed to score 10 in the Super Over against DC. He is the most dangerous cricketer on the planet today.
BUMRAH FOR THE WIN
Bumrah’s spell against AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli in the dying overs of the MI-RCB game will go down as some of the most stunning death-bowling ever witnessed in IPL play. He dismissed Kohli with a short ball, wrestled a lost match back from the bats of two of the greatest modern-day batsmen, and gave Malinga 16 runs to defend off the final over. The rest, as they say, was history.
BEST SUPER OVER IN IPL HISTORY
Kagiso Rabada took hold of the ball, with just 10 to defend after Delhi Capitals collapsed to take the match against KKR into a Super Over. Andre Russell, the most destructive player in the world, was on strike. Rabada missed a yorker on the first ball, and Russell dispatched the low full-toss to the boundary. KKR needed 6 off 5 balls – easy for a Test player, too. Rabada fired in a yorker the next ball, and then another to send Russell’s middle-stump cartwheeling. It was the ball of the year. He then kept Robin Uthappa and Dinesh Karthik to 3 runs in the next 3 balls, winning DC an unlikely match with his smooth, rhythmic fast-bowling. If Rabada and Bumrah were to ever join horns in the same IPL team…imagine.
SRH IS A HAPPY TEAM
On Sunday, Mohammed Nabi, the “other” Afghan spinner, bowled webs around the RCB batsmen after opening the bowling in a master-strike by Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Rashid Khan didn’t even bowl till the 9th over. Nabi took 4 wickets – his best, AB clean bowled. It was curtains for RCB, and SRH had found yet another match winner. This, after Warner and Bairstow played two of the best T20 innings of the year to take SRH to 231. If they carry on like this, Kane Williamson might never come off the bench. And he was the Orange Cap winner last year!