There are only 11 games still to be played before we enter this year’s Indian T20 League playoffs, and judging by what we’ve seen so far, I believe the top three spots are all but sealed. The fight for the final playoff berth, however, is expected to go down to the wire, but today, I want to give you the names I’m looking forward to seeing during the first three games of the week.
Kolkata - Sunil Narine
Narine couldn’t have asked for a better comeback following a brief setback in the season. The West Indies all-rounder arrived at the crease when Kolkata were hitting at a rate of just over five runs per over against Delhi, and combining with a trailblazer like Nitish Rana, Narine scored 64 off just 32 to take his team from 44/3 to 194/6 in 20 overs. Kolkata might have expected a better performance from him with the ball, but I believe it’s just a matter of time before he finds his previous form. He will be one to watch out for against Punjab.
Punjab - Murugan Ashwin
Punjab posted the lowest score a team has ever registered in Dubai this season (126), and defending it against Hyderabad was only made possible through the bowling brilliance of their spinners Ravi Bishnoi and Murugan Ashwin. His tally of eight wickets in six games may not look otherworldly, but the fact that he has managed to maintain an economy of 7.58 is quite impressive for me. Punjab will be desperate for a win on Monday, and Ashwin could well and truly be their trump card on the day.
Hyderabad - Jason Holder
Jason Holder has been truly fantastic for Hyderabad in his last two games, with five wickets during the tenure. With three out of the four foreign slots filled, choosing between the West Indian and Kane Williamson is going to be quite a task by my reckoning. Hyderabad are up against Delhi next, a team that has been outstanding with the bat, and if the 2016 winners are to do anything positive on Tuesday, they will need Holder to be at his best.
Delhi - Rishabh Pant
Pant had a watchful start to the 2020 Indian T20 League season, but an injury midway has halted his progress. It’s evident that Shreyas Iyer needs someone who can do the talking with the bat at the death, and Pant, in that case, has to be his go-to man. Having just completed a century of sixes in the league, I expect him to glide through the Hyderabad bowling lineup if the top order fails to have an impact. It’s clear that he is yearning to do better, and these final few games give him the perfect opportunity to do so.
Mumbai - Ishan Kishan
It is often said that one man’s pain is another man’s pleasure and that was certainly the case on Friday when Mumbai took on Chennai. With Rohit Sharma absent, 22-year-old Ishan Kishan was promoted up the order and the youngster showed little signs of nervousness as Mumbai won the game with all 10 wickets intact. Kishan has struggled with consistency this season, but then, who hasn’t? The T20 format demands a good balance of consistency and aggression, and at this age, Ishan Kishan is proving to be one reliable young man at the crease.
Bangalore - AB de Villiers
When it comes to AB de Villiers, writers are out of adjectives and those on the field are out of ideas, as his impact has been astonishing, to say the least. AB loves scoring against Mumbai, as the last time these two sides met, he notched an unbeaten 55 off just 24 deliveries. The game went into the Super Over before Bangalore cliched the two points. When Bangalore take on Mumbai on Wednesday, my eye will be on AB again and you’d do well to punt on him.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter / @IndianT20League