Two days of nerve-racking drama is all that is left in the group stage of this year’s Indian T20 League before we head into the playoffs. The topsy-turvy nature of the competition has fully lived up to its hype and I’m excited more than ever to see what it has to offer in the final few rounds of the fixtures. And so, today, I’m going to talk about the players I believe will be key in their final league stage games of the campaign:
Delhi - Kagiso Rabada
Kagiso Rabada’s performance in the early stage of the competition was right on the money, picking a whopping 17 wickets in the first seven games. A dip in form, however, has coincided with Delhi’s batting order collapse and the team has suffered big time. Rabada has gone wicketless in his last two games and that has allowed Mumbai’s Jasprit Bumrah to overtake him in the competition for the Purple Cap.
Delhi face Bangalore next, a game that will either confirm or deteriorate their place in the playoffs. A game as big as this requires players with a strong mentality, something that I feel Rabada has.
Bangalore - Yuzvendra Chahal
Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal has been one of Bangalore’s consistent performers this season, picking at least a wicket in all but one game so far. Equipped with a sharp proficiency of keeping his opponents in check, I reckon he will once again be the key for them on Monday. Delhi are coming off four back-to-back defeats and I believe Chahal can be the one to provide that much-needed psychological edge needed by Bangalore.
With Delhi’s batting order out of form, I expect the Indian leggie to make all the difference on Monday.
Hyderabad - Wriddhiman Saha
Three games, 156 runs at a strike rate of 144.44, and Wriddhiman Saha has suddenly become Hyderabad’s go-to man as they head into the final league stage game looking to turn things around against a stern Mumbai unit. Saha has been a sudden surprise for Hyderabad and has duly filled the void left by Bairstow. His inclusion has also allowed the team to bring in Kane Williamson, meaning that their batting order finally has some spine.
Opening the batting alongside David Warner, Saha, for me, is someone Hyderabad will rely on for a quick head start.
Mumbai - Kieron Pollard
Mumbai have lost just one of their last four games since being forced to forgo the services of Rohit Sharma to an unfortunate injury, but that hasn’t stopped the defending champions from wreaking their usual carnage. A win for Chennai on Thursday granted Mumbai an automatic place in the playoffs, but they didn’t take their Saturday’s game against Delhi anywhere near lightly. Scorching through their entire unit, Mumbai won the game by nine wickets.
The upsurge in form despite missing Rohit Sharma is largely down to Kieron Pollard. The big man, who is now handling the reigns, may have been quiet with both ball and the bat, but his contribution goes beyond that and Mumbai certainly know that. In their final league game, expect him to bat higher up the order and close the game for his side early.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter / @IndianT20League