@Ben_Wisden 4 minute read
The IPL 2021 group stages are almost exactly halfway through, and with an enforced break due to a pair of Covid-19 cases sustained in the KKR camp, now is the perfect time to reflect on the early stages of the competition and pick a team of the tournament so far.
Prithvi Shaw – Delhi Capitals
308 runs @ 38.50, SR: 166.48, 3 50s, HS: 82
There has been no shortage of openers to score big in the IPL so far. Where Prithvi Shaw stands out is in his ability to turn it on right from the start, never more exemplified than when he caressed Shivam Mavi for six fours in an over off his first six balls faced in an innings.
Shikhar Dhawan – Delhi Capitals
380 runs @ 54.28, SR: 134.27, 3 50s, HS: 92
The other half of the opening partnership that has made Delhi Capitals the tournament’s early pace-setters, Shikhar Dhawan is the leading run-scorer in the competition so far.
Moeen Ali – Chennai Super Kings
206 runs @ 34.33, SR: 157.25, 1 50, HS: 58; 5 wickets @ 14.80, ER: 6.16, BBI: 3-7
Described as a ‘deluxe pinch-hitter’ by CricViz’s Patrick Noone, Moeen Ali has demonstrated the value of sculpting a team around his bountiful talents, rather than the other way around. Only AB de Villiers and Prithvi Shaw have scored more runs at a better strike rate, and only Rashid Khan has bowled more balls with a better economy rate.
Sanju Samson (wk) – Rajasthan Royals
277 runs @ 46.16, SR: 145.78, 1 50, HS: 119
Sanju Samson’s century against Punjab Kings was arguably the innings of the tournament so far, even if it ended in defeat, but a string of low scores after suggested he would again follow the pattern of starting well and tailing away. Instead, he’s crossed 40 in each of his last three innings and sits fifth on the run charts.
AB de Villiers – Royal Challengers Bangalore
207 runs @ 51.75, SR: 164.28, 2 50s, HS: 76*
It’s tough to know what’s harder to comprehend: the possibility that the South African legend is somehow still getting better, or the idea that he’s always been this good.
Kieron Pollard – Mumbai Indians
168 runs @ 56.00, SR: 171.42, 1 50, HS: 87*; 3 wickets @ 18.00, ER: 7.53, BBI: 2-12
Named Wisden’s Leading T20 Cricketer in the World near the start of the IPL, Kieron Pollard has justified the tag once more. His 34-ball 87* against Chennai Super Kings, helping haul in an asking rate of more than 15 an over across eight overs, sealed one of the IPL’s biggest chases, and instantly slotted itself amongst the pantheon of the IPL’s greatest innings.
Ravindra Jadeja – Chennai Super Kings
131 runs @ 131.00, SR: 161.72, 1 50, HS: 62*; 6 wickets @ 26.83, ER: 6.70, BBI: 3-13
Ravindra Jadeja’s incredible all-round skill set has once again been on full display, whether with bat, ball or in the field. Against RCB, he smashed 37 runs in an over, dismissed Washington Sundar, Glenn Maxwell and AB de Villiers, and nailed Dan Christian with a direct hit too.
Rashid Khan – Sunrisers Hyderabad
10 wickets @ 14.80, ER: 6.14, BBI: 3-36
Rashid Khan is a captain’s dream, that rare bowler capable of taking wickets even when teams are afraid to attack him. Only three others have claimed more scalps, while only two other bowlers (min. 20 overs) get within one run per over of his economy rate.
Deepak Chahar – Chennai Super Kings
8 wickets @ 24.12, ER: 8.04, BBI: 4-13
Harshal Patel, the leading wicket-taker in the tournament so far, is desperately unlucky to miss out, but Deepak Chahar’s new-ball expertise just get him the nod.
Avesh Khan – Delhi Capitals
14 wickets @ 16.50, ER: 7.70, BBI: 3-32
Avesh Khan is yet to go wicketless or concede 40 or more runs in a game. Considering he’s used as a death bowler by Delhi Capitals, it’s some feat. Uncapped for now, but maybe not for long.
Jasprit Bumrah – Mumbai Indians
6 wickets @ 32.00, ER: 7.11, BBI: 2-26
As ever, Jasprit Bumrah’s value is evident in his economy rate rather than in the wickets he takes. To concede only just over seven an over, despite bowling at the top and tail of an innings, is simply exceptional.