Usually, the IPL is revered for the influx of superior foreign talent that leaves everyone stunned in the wake of their all-round performances. This has been the familiar story in the previous editions. And it’s not too hard to understand why? When a tournament combines the excellence of talents like Shane Watson, AB De Villiers, Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Mitchell Johnson- one can expect nothing but fireworks.
But that’s been the story of the previous editions. What about now? Perhaps, it suffices to say that nothing else can possibly determine the construct of IPL 2018 quite like the flair and phenomenon of its youth, seen on a rampage this season.
Big hits, quick wickets, impressive strike rates- the youngsters in the IPL have dictated terms, flexing muscles against some top-notch names. But while there’s little doubt about the flair that blokes like Ishan Kishan, Rishabh Pant, Prithvi Shaw bring- what are the 5 important things to look forward to as the mega T20 tournament approaches on the closing stages?
1. Will CSK’s prominence remain unshaken?
It was a team that was being sorely missed in the campaign and they made fans await their return for 2 long, strenuous years. Little surprise, in all frankness, to note that upon resumption of their IPL ties, the Chennai Super Kings haven’t looked rusty even a bit. Setting the tournament by surprise, Dhoni’s side has jolted the likes of Mumbai, Delhi, Rajasthan, Bangalore and continued their 2018 resurgence. At the moment, it’s not hard to understand why they’ve been in such fine form- given the smashing form guys like Watson, Bravo, the captain Dhoni himself and Rayudu (in particular) have been in. Can the side continue to exert pressure on others and reach the finals? There’s little doubt about what CSK can do, having won 7 games out of the 10 so far.
2. Who will steal the Purple cap in the end
There’s such fanfare associated with big hits and mighty heaves making the phenomenon of the Orange cup so highly anticipated, so what about the Purple cap? Maybe, it might’ve come across as a bit of a surprise to find Andrew Tye on the top of the bowler’s rankings, having scalped 16 wickets so far.
What makes Tye’ feat laudable and interesting at the same time is that quite like Mumbai Indians’ Hardik Pandya- who happens to be sitting pretty with 16 wickets too- King’s XI have got a few games ahead of them, even as Mumbai seems to be contending with an outside chance of making it to the qualifiers.
The surge ahead rests solely on the ability of the wicket-takers to claw back into action as with most teams having played 11 games, might fancy their batsmen to put up a series of whacks. Meanwhile, giving the pacers a run for their money are spinners- Mujeeb and Markande in particular who sit tied at 14 wickets apiece.
3. Will King’s XI surprise everyone this IPL?
The story of King’s XI’s rise this season could be the accompanying story to SRH’s rise in the IPL- thus forming the perfect byline to the glitzy tournament that gives ample space for surprises and thunderous performances. When they began their 2018 campaign, not many would’ve fancied King’s XI a great deal, primarily because barring Gayle and Ashwin, they didn’t seem to have prominent players- Rahul having only risen from a spate of injuries and fans in the sub-continent not being that aware of Mujeeb.
Right now, even ahead of Gayle, KL Rahul has made this tournament his own courtesy some excellent, unwavering hitting and Mujeeb has taken everyone by surprise through his confusing spinners. To add cherry to the top, Gayle and Ashwin have been contributing well in tandem. Having not won a single IPL crown thus far, it seems, they can go a long way this year, at least well into the playoffs. But Punjab will have to continue on their victory path that might seem a little rusty as pressure begins to crawl.
4. Will Mumbai outshine Kolkata Knight Riders
They might be the Knights, but it seems, Mumbai are the venomous serpents, hurting whom can come cause a few blows. Familiar slow starters in the tournament, Mumbai’s rise in the latter stages- quintessential key in understanding the sleepy giants of the IPL- has caused a few jitters to KKR. Having lost most of their initial games, only to have won many incredible games in the latter stages, Mumbai Indias are on a juggernaut especially in the past few games where they’ve cornered closest rivals reaching the playoffs- KKR. It seems given Suryakumar Yadav, Evin Lewis, Markande and Pandya brothers’ form- there’s little to worry about Mumbai who look certain to reach the final stages.
5. Who among Delhi, Rajasthan and Bangalore will have the last hurrah?
It’s really been a disappointing tournament for RR, DD and, RCB. Why’s is that one ends up feeling the most for the Daredevils, Rajasthan Royals and Kohli’s Bangalore?
The last in the Trinity have been most disappointing where the combined team’s failure has resulted in conceding far too many runs to better, giving RR some company, who’ve looked a slow, unpredictable unit all along. This takes nothing away from Delhi, plagued by poor bowling that hasn’t really led them anywhere and if you were to ignore Pant and Iyer’s heroics, there’s certainly been nothing worth remembering in the Daredevils’ journey.
So with Delhi and Bangalore with 3 wins apiece and Rajasthan with only 4, who will outrun the other two in the quest to finish with most wins as the race to the qualifiers is nearly but over?