Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Five Key Talking Points Of The IPL 2018 Season So Far

Little has gone to script in the new IPL season and fans have already been treated to a captivating blend of drama, intrigue and excitement. Pre-season favourites have flopped, new greats have emerged and a thrilling unpredictability abounds. Here are the five biggest talking points so far:

Superb Sunrisers
The Hyderabad Sunrisers’ pre-season preparations were plunged into disarray when skipper David Warner was banned for his role in the Australian ball-tampering scandal. It looked as though they would struggle to match last year’s performance, where they finished third in the standings and made it through to the playoffs, with some predicting a grim season. But the Sunrisers came flying out of the blocks and won their first three games in a row to soar to the top of the table. Kiwi batsman Kane Williamson has embraced the role of captain and his phenomenally talented bowling line-up has delivered in style. They have restricted the opposition to fewer than 150 runs in all three opening games, leading the team to a 100% start to the season. They now lead the way in the IPL markets and Williamson’s men certainly look like the team to beat this year.

Miserable Mumbai 
Last year’s champions could not have made a worse start to the defense of their crown as they lost all three opening games of the season to sit bottom of the ladder. The defeats were close, but two were in their own back yard and that will be worrying for everyone connected with the franchise. They are now the rank outsiders for glory this season, and it could end up as the worst defense of an IPL title we have seen.

There is still time for them to turn things around, and they have not played too badly, but to lose their first three games by a whisker suggests a lack of fortitude in the clutch, so they will need to improve in this department.

Rehman comes of age
Mujeeb Ur Rehman became the youngest IPL player in history when he made his debut for the Kings XI Punjab, and what a debut it turned out to be. The 17-year-old Afghan removed the number one T20 batsman, Colin Munro, on just his third ball, swiftly endearing himself to the fans. The fairy-tale start continued when he dismissed Rishabh Pant, and ended up with highly impressive figures of 2-28 in his quota of four overs. Kings XI have made a strong start to the campaign and captain Ravichandran Ashwin is likely to use the teenage Afghan sensation to devastating effect over the coming weeks.

Rahul bidding for the Orange cap
Lokesh Rahul was the most expensive player for Kings XI at the IPL auction and he quickly repaid some of that fee. He came to the crease with his team chasing 166 against the Delhi Daredevils in their opening game, and hit 50 off just 14 balls – an IPL record – to totally demoralize his opponents. He smashed every bowler he faced and hit 24 off Amit Mishra in one over. Rahul has been branded a Test cricketer before, but he has always insisted he can star in limited overs contests, and he has proved it this year. He is not a preferred opener for the Indian national team, but he is keen to wear the Orange cap and his clean ball striking should have given the selectors something to think about.

Kohli still the star attraction
Even when he is being outshone by the likes of Sanju Samson, Kohli is still the main man in the IPL. The fans worship him, fellow players are full of respect and his star quality shines brightly. West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Bravo likened him to the cricketing equivalent of Real Madrid soccer star Christiano Ronaldo this week. “For me as a cricket player to play against him and to watch him play when he represents India, even RCB, I admire the talent that he has, the passion he has for the game, for the sport when he plays. So hats off to him and he deserves all the achievement,” said Bravo. Royal Challengers Bangalore have made an inauspicious start to the season, losing two of their first three games, but there is still time to turn things around and they are the second favourites behind the Sunrisers to lift the trophy at the end of the season.

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