The latest week in the 2020 Indian Premier League has blown the play-off race wide open after teams at the bottom of the table made big gains against the established leaders.
Since the start of the tournament in October, we have been picking the Team of the Week with help from our social media followers. We’ve narrowed down the top performers to 22 players before putting them to a vote on our Instagram stories.
After a 24-hour voting period in which two players jostled for each position, this is the final XI.
BEN STOKES – RAJASTHAN ROYALS
The England star had looked extremely rusty on his return to cricket after a prolonged break, but that changed in the span of a sensational innings against Mumbai Indians. Stokes’ brilliance turned a daunting chase of 196 into a walk in the park for Rajasthan, and the Englishman deservedly brought up a century before finishing things off.
It was a timely reminder of a prodigious talent who can touch heights which very few, if any, in the sport can match. The superbly crafted ton against the defending champions has also handed the Royals a faint glimmer of hope with regards to their play-off ambitions.
SHIKHAR DHAWAN – DELHI CAPITALS
What Stokes pulled off against Mumbai has been attained twice this season already by the experienced Shikhar Dhawan. The veteran opener has been enjoying a purple patch and registered two back-to-back hundreds against CSK and KXIP. That these grandiose displays came on the back of two successive half-centuries is testament to Dhawan’s ridiculous consistency in the ongoing campaign.
He was generating good starts at the beginning of the season, though it is only in recent matches that Dhawan has really started to turn the screws. With him in such a rich vein of form, Delhi will hope to quickly recover from their setbacks of late.
VIRAT KOHLI – ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE
His strike-rate might not be the greatest, but Virat Kohli has been consistently churning out the runs at No3 for RCB. Only KL Rahul and Dhawan have scored more runs in this campaign than the Bangalore skipper who is now averaging nearly 60 with the bat.
Few No3 batsmen have been as consistent as Kohli this year and only Mumbai’s Suryakumar Yadav is a close contender. Kohli’s latest 50 against CSK came in a losing cause, and the RCB superstar will be keen to get his team back to winning ways.
AB DE VILLIERS – ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE
With a batting average similar to that of Kohli, AB de Villiers elevates himself to another level with an excellent strike-rate of nearly 175. The South African has been the true lynchpin of Bangalore’s batting at No4, and has consistently provided the side with explosive finishes in the death overs.
The extraordinary effort of 55 against Rajasthan Royals remains de Villiers’ defining display in the campaign so far. The genius at his disposal means there could be an even better display around the corner.
NICHOLAS POORAN – KINGS XI PUNJAB
Only Sanju Samson has registered more sixes than Nicholas Pooran, while no one has struck the ball harder than the West Indies batsman. The left-hander has swiftly recovered from his early season hiccups and is now firing on all cylinders for KXIP.
Pooran’s upturn in form has been key to Punjab’s resurgence with his fireworks towards the tail-end of the innings helping them across the finish line on several occasions. An average of more than 41 coupled with a total of 22 sixes off his bat make Pooran one of the most fearsome batsmen in the competition.
KIERON POLLARD – MUMBAI INDIANS
The stand-in Mumbai skipper will want to quickly forget the mauling handed out to his side by Stokes, although the defending champions still remain on track to top the table. His own performances cannot be faulted as the Windies stalwart is yet to put a foot wrong with the bat in hand.
His dismissal for six runs against Rajasthan remains the only blemish on Pollard’s record this season so far. He is averaging a staggering 107 for Mumbai this year, while his strike-rate has hovered around the 200 mark. With Hardik Pandya also finding form in the last game, Mumbai have the arsenal to do some serious damage in the death overs.
SAM CURRAN – CHENNAI SUPER KINGS
Is there anything Sam Curran cannot do? Some players just seem to carry that X-factor, and the young Englishman certainly belongs to that category. In the ongoing campaign, Curran is the only all-rounder to achieve the double of 10 wickets and 150 runs.
Chennai’s woes this season do not take away from Curran’s plucky displays and the 22-year old is destined for a big future. His gritty half-century after CSK’s dramatic collapse against Mumbai epitomises the fighting spirit he brings to every match. He is the perfect man Chennai can build their team around for the next generation.
RASHID KHAN – SUNRISERS HYDERABAD
They do not call him the best T20 bowler for nothing. It is astounding how Rashid Khan never has an off-day with the ball in hand. Even when he is not getting the wickets, the Afghan ace is so miserly with his economy-rate.
Few batsmen have the courage to attack his variations and it’s ensured he’s maintained an economy-rate of just 5.29 for SRH. He has also helped himself to 14 wickets, with only Yuzvendra Chahal (16) bettering his tally among spinners in the competition.
VARUN CHAKRAVARTHY – KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS
The mystery spinner will be celebrating his maiden India T20I call-up for the tour of Australia, and it is nothing less than what his IPL’s performances this season have deserved.
While everyone expected Sunil Narine to be Kolkata’s main man in the spin department, it is Chakravarthy who has assumed that mantle with his admirable displays. His five-wicket haul against the Delhi Capitals came at just the right time for his aspirations and has culminated with a fairytale selection for the India squad.
JOFRA ARCHER – RAJASTHAN ROYALS
England’s express pacer has guaranteed early wickets with the new ball throughout the 2020 edition, and the same phenomenon was observed in recent outings against Mumbai and SRH.
Speed and accuracy have been Archer’s biggest strengths, with the England star cranking up the heat in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Sadly for the fast bowler, the rest of Rajasthan’s bowling attack have failed to adequately back up his stellar efforts.
JASPRIT BUMRAH – RAJASTHAN ROYALS
Tied with Jofra Archer in third place in the wicket-taking charts this year is Mumbai’s pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah.
Bumrah has been his usual economical self in the tournament as batsmen rarely get the freedom to play big shots against his bowling. He had an off-day in the recent defeat to Rajasthan, but so did every other Mumbai bowler. With his class, Bumrah is bound to bounce back strongly in the remainder of the campaign.
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