Almost halfway into the league stage of the Indian T20 League and I have to admit how pleased I’ve been so far by the performances put out by the players. From AB de Villiers’ extravagant exploits to Rahul Tewatia’s superb showings, one thing I’ve learned from these games is you just cannot predict who will come out on top.
And now, after three top games of the week, these four players, for me, should be getting extra attention during Thursday and Friday’s fixtures:
Bangalore - Washington Sundar
Keeping batsmen such as Nitish Rana and Eoin Morgan at bay on a pitch like Sharjah can be an arduous task, but Washington Sunder pulled it off to perfection during Bangalore’s much-deserved win over Kolkata on Monday. What surprised me most that day was the fact that he went for a mere 20 runs in his four overs, and never allowed any batsman to get on top of him and was very disciplined with his lines.
The 2016 Indian T20 League finalists are set to play Punjab at the same venue on Thursday, and I can see Washington putting down a similar performance. Unlike Kolkata, Punjab’s openers have caused massive carnage at times and it will be interesting to see how the spinner approaches that game.
Punjab - Nicholas Pooran
As I said, Punjab’s openers have been excellent on their day, but their middle-order has been just as dull so far. A certain Nicholas Pooran, however, has shown what he brings to the table. Unpredictable to an extent, Pooran for me will be the key for Punjab as the conditions at Sharjah suit him pretty well.
Hitting at a strike rate of 176.66, third-best in the league after seven games, Pooran is a multifunctional asset for the team, as he can be their anchor if the top order fails - like he did against Hyderabad - or he can just let himself be in a hefty run-chase.
Mumbai - Suryakumar Yadav
It took time for Suryakumar Yadav to announce himself on the big stage, but boy, I have to admit how admirable he has been in his recent outings. Having scored two back-to-back half-centuries, Suryakumar is now Mumbai’s top run-scorer in the ongoing edition, and as the record champions face Kolkata next, I’m of the opinion that he is going to continue to play a big role in their innings.
The 30-year-old is such an underrated entity and will be eager to show his former team Kolkata just what they are missing out on.
Kolkata - Andre Russell
Figuratively, Andre Russell is yet to make an impact in the Indian T20 League so far, but it is fair to say that the big man’s contribution is way beyond just batting and bowling. One of the senior figures at Kolkata, Dre was hit for over eight runs per over the last time Kolkata squared off against Mumbai, but he did make up for it by dismissing Hardik Pandya.
On Friday, at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Kolkata will be hoping to see a special showing from Russell, something that is long overdue from the all-rounder.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Sajjad Hussain