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While most of us don’t associate the Indian Premier League (IPL) with the early winter months of September and October, we can’t be entirely detached from the present reality of COVID-19. Time has lost its meaning, tradition its value. With all 8 teams in this season’s IPL having played at least 7 games — that is, half of the 14 all teams must play — it seems only right for us to take stock of all the performances so far, on both the individual and collective levels. Presenting to you, The Edict’s IPL Midseason Awards.
(Note: The data published is as of Monday, October 12 after Match 28 between RCB and KKR, which marked the halfway point of IPL 2020)
Emerging Batsman: Devdutt Padikkal (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
The young left-handed opener from Karnataka has earned his place in RCB’s star-studded lineup after recording three 50+ scores in his first 4 games. Aesthetically a very pleasant player to watch, Padikkal has showed aggression and positivity in his opening slot alongside Aaron Finch and made excellent use of the time he has had to spend in the middle alongside skipper Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. 243 runs in 7 games at an average of 34.71 (comparable to Rohit Sharma) and at a strike rate of 124 (a few knots above David Warner) serves as an indication of Padikkal’s ability at the top, and he will be a real asset in RCB’s charge to end their barren run.
Honourable Mention: Shubman Gill (Kolkata Knight Riders), 254 runs, at 42.33, and a strike-rate of 119.25. Gill looks certain to become India’s white-ball opener in the coming years.
Emerging Bowler: Ravi Bishnoi (Kings XI Punjab)
Despite Punjab’s woes throughout the tournament and the quite miserable record they currently hold, there have been a few bright spots splattered throughout their lineup — especially young leggie, Ravi Bishnoi. His success, however, wouldn’t be too large a surprise for those who monitored the Indian under-19s’ campaign in South Africa earlier this year, where his performances on otherwise pace-friendly tracks earned him an INR 2 crore move to KXIP. Scalping 8 wickets in the tournament so far, including those of international superstars such as David Warner, Jonny Bairstow, and Aaron Finch, Bishnoi has made himself a mainstay of Punjab’s middle overs, bowling at an impressive economy rate of 7.85 rpo. He keeps it tight, and like all the greatest T20 leg-spinners, incites batsmen into playing risky shots and making them pay for it.
Honourable Mention: T Natarajan (Sunrisers Hyderabad), 7 wickets at 30.97. He’s bowled the most successful number of yorkers in the league, nearly tripling the second name on the list.
Most Valuable Batsman: KL Rahul (Kings XI Punjab)
It is strange but perhaps indicative of KXIP’s struggles that two of their players are in this awards section — they get 4 solid overs from Bishnoi and good starts from their openers, but crumble everywhere else. KL Rahul has looked right on top of his game all season, his average of 64.50 astounding for an opening batsman. The 132* against RCB was the statement performance of the season, and currently sitting at the top of the orange cap list warrants his position here — 387 runs in 7 innings with an impressive strike rate of 134. He will hope his form with bat in hand can translate into results for the team he leads, who achieved the unwanted feat of becoming the first IPL outfit to reach 100 losses across all seasons.
Honourable Mention: David Warner (Sunrisers Hyderabad), 279 runs at 39.29. Continuing his love affair with the IPL, Warner became the first batsman to record fifty scores of 50+ runs in the tournament’s history.
Most Valuable Bowler: Kagiso Rabada (Delhi Capitals)
Kagiso Rabada serves as an important example for why having a premier fast bowler in your team is so vital in the IPL. Sitting at the top of the purple cap list, Rabada has been an insanely difficult bowler for any team to target, and his dominance shows in his numbers: 17 wickets at an economy of 7.70 while bowling the meat of his overs in the death. Forming one half of DC’s scintillating two-pronged pace battery alongside countryman Anrich Nortje, Rabada’s performances so far show why he is regarded as one of the best in the business — he always seems to have a wicket or two in him, striking every 9 balls (the second closest player having played more than 20 overs is Trent Boult with 14) and he never makes it easy for the batsman. This year, the Capitals are lucky to have him for the entirety of the tournament — he could be the difference between success and disappointment come the sweaty end of the tournament.
Honourable Mention: Jofra Archer (Rajasthan Royals), 9 wickets at an outstanding economy of 6.82, while bowling predominantly in the PowerPlay and at the death.
Moment of the Tournament So Far: Rahul Tewatia’s 30-run over
Each IPL season has that one moment which sticks right through the collective consciousness of the country for years to come. There have already been several such moments this year — the two super overs, Glenn Maxwell’s boundary which was millimeters away from forcing a third. But the standout moment has to be Rahul Tewatia smacking West Indian international Sheldon Cottrell for 5 sixes to single-handedly turn the tide of the match, and potentially his career. The Rajasthan Royals all-rounder was having a torrid time, batting at around a run every two balls initially at Sharjah (a stadium where top-edges can fly out of the stadium) with the Royals needing to score 17 runs per over. Social media was calling for his head, Kevin Pietersen on air was asking him to knock over his own stumps. The turning of the tables was immense, unprecedented, almost unnatural. Taking 30 from that over meant they only needed 21 from 12 after that point, and at that moment, everyone watching live knew they had just witnessed an iconic IPL moment.
Honourable Mention: Nicholas Pooran’s pair. The KXIP batsman was dismissed for a duck against DC in the main innings, before repeating the feat when he came out to bat in the Super Over. He is the first person to complete this ignominious feat in the IPL, but follows in the footsteps of Aussie, Moises Henriques, who suffered the same misfortune in the Big Bash League.
Disappointment of the Season: Chennai Super Kings’ complete 180
It is fair to say that the three-time champions of the IPL are struggling. Having lost Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh before the tournament, last year’s finalists have struggled to find balance in any component of the game. They also seem to have lost the self-assured nature with which they go about their business every year.. The age of the squad seems to have finally caught up — Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu and MS Dhoni,, amongst others, are a part of the group who are now on the wrong side of 30. Their fortunes have headed in the polar opposite direction of the team they lost to in last year’s final, the Mumbai Indians — while Rohit Sharma’s side has strolled to a 5-2 record without breaking a sweat, CSK have huffed and puffed their way to two measly wins and 5 performances in which they have been thoroughly outplayed and well-beaten. Dhoni’s men have the experience to try and turn this around, and the quality too — but the air of malaise which surrounds the team, and the ease with which some teams seem to outplay them, means that they find themselves ‘winning’ the least desirable award on this list.
(Dis)Honourable mention: KXIP’s performances in the most crucial moments. They find themselves with only a solitary win in 7, but they really should have had at least three if not four or five victories so far. Their batting and bowling have both failed them, notably against DC, RR, and KKR, where they lost when a defeat looked seemingly impossible.