The first 10 days of IPL 2019 have provided with thrilling, edge-of-the-seat entertainment along with providing a glimpse of why the T20 league is considered one of the best in the world. Even though this time there was no glittering opening ceremony, the roar caused by the fans present at the Chepauk for the maiden game of the season proved that the tournament has continued to carve its own niche in the psyche of cricket-crazy fans in the country.
If Rishabh Pant set the league alight with his no-holds-barred treatment of Jasprit Bumrah and Co., spinner R Ashwin created a furore by 'mankading' Rajasthan Royals' Jos Buttler at a crucial juncture to turn the match on its head. Here we take a look at 10 talking points or highlights from the first ten days of the IPL:
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Pant blazed away to an unbeaten 27-ball 78 and powered Delhi Capitals to a mammoth 213 for six against Mumbai Indians in their Indian Premier League opener on March 26. The left-hander raced to his half-century in 18 balls, hitting seven towering sixes and as many fours at the Wankhede Stadium, which looked too small for the Delhi dazzler. The young wicketkeeper was brutal on Hardik Pandya, whom he hammered for two sixes and a four in the 16th over to start the destruction and then spared none. He struck two sixes and a four off debutant Rasikh Salam in the 19th over. Pant was also brutal on death overs specialist Bumrah. The blows were too much to handle for Mumbai as they failed to get going in their humongous chase of 214, losing by 37 runs.
Kohli v Bumrah
Two days later at the Chinnaswamy, while chasing 188 against Mumbai Indians (MI), Kohli signalled his intentions at the beginning itself hitting Jasprit Bumrah for three consecutive boundaries in one over. Hardik Pandya was slashed through the point and cover driven for successive boundaries. Though nothing can be taken away from the fit-again Bumrah's mastery at the death as he singlehandedly won it for Mumbai Indians with superb 17th and 19th overs.
But with the partnership between Kohli and Ab de Villiers one short of the 50-run mark, Bumrah came back for his second spell and bowled a sharp bouncer and the RCB skipper couldn't maintain his balance trying to execute a pull-shot as Hardik Pandya completed the formalities.
AB v Malinga
Just before Kohli was dismissed, De Villiers who was set by then was in a mood to take Malinga to the cleaners. A shadow of his old self, Malinga was missing length most of the times and two huge sixes in the 16th over of the Lankan slinger saw De Villiers get the equation down to 41 off 24 balls.
Malinga returned to bowl the final over with RCB needing 17 runs to win. Shivam Dube lofted the first ball for six but the Sri Lankan legend kept him and AB quiet for the rest of the over with pinpoint yorkers and slower balls giving away just 4 more runs to seal a tense win.
'Mr. Muscle' Dre Russ
Andre Russell seems to be back to his old self smashing sixes at will this year in the IPL. With 159 runs from 3 matches, he has been hitting the ball at an overall Strike-Rate of 248.43 - currently the best in the tournament. Dre Russ smashed an explosive 49 to spoil David Warner's scintillating IPL comeback as Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) pulled off a dramatic six-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad on March 24. Russell hammered four sixes and an equal number of boundaries in a run sequence that read 6-6-1-4-1-4-6-4-0-6-1.
Later at his home ground of Eden Gardens, he gave Kings XI Punjab a taste of his medicine after he was given a second life being bowled by Mohammed Shami off a no-ball. The reprieve was exactly what the Jamaican needed as he blasted five sixes and three fours in his 17-ball-48 with KKR reaching 218 for 4.
In his last match, Russell endured a beamer blow but still produced a blistering knock to lift Kolkata Knight Riders to a fighting 185 for 7 against Delhi Capitals in an IPL match here Saturday. Yet again proving his worth with the willow, the Jamaican resurrected the innings of KKR, who were reeling at 64 for five at the half-way mark. Russell smashed 62 off 28 balls and shared a crucial 95-run stand with his skipper Dinesh Karthik (50 off 36 balls) for the sixth wicket.
Mankad lives on!
Kings XI Punjab captain Ravichandran Ashwin stirred up a controversy when he dismissed Rajasthan Royals' batsman Jos Buttler via a 'Mankad' run out on March 25, making the Englishman first to be dismissed in such a manner in the history of the league. With Buttler going strong at 69 off 43 balls while chasing 185 runs, Ashwin Mankaded the opener without giving him any warning.
As per the laws of the game, the third umpire declared Buttler out but such dismissal had always raised eyebrows as it is considered against the spirit of the game. As expected Buttler seemed furious and had a heated exchange with Ashwin before leaving the field. The dismissal quickly raised a fresh debate over the spirit of the game as the off-spinner didn't give the Englishman a prior warning.
Needing 41 runs from 4 overs, RCB looked to be cruising against MI at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru before Jasprit Bumrah and Lasith Malinga tightened the screws on the home team and won the game for MI by 6 runs.
But the game will be remembered for umpire S. Ravi's failure to spot a no-ball off the final delivery of the match. With RCB needing six runs from the last ball to tie the game, Lasith Malinga bowled a dot ball, but replays showed it should have been a no-ball as he overstepped. RCB skipper Virat Kohli made his displeasure known at the end of the game, saying that the teams were not playing club cricket and the officials needed to be more careful.
Delhi 'Capitals or Daredevils'?
Yesterday while cruising at 144/3 in the 17th over chasing 167 against KXIP, Delhi lost their last seven wickets for 8 runs, something that will haunt them for days to come especially after Rishabh Pant and Colin Ingram set up what looked like an easy win.
Even in their third match against KKR, DC had the game in their pocket as they needed on 18 in 18. That is where the game turned though. Kuldeep bowled a terrific 18th over, giving away only 3 runs away. Shaw's wicket then revoked the hopes of the Kolkata camp and a tremendous last oversaw the game head into the super over. These recent meltdowns have prompted commentators like former England captain Michael Vaughan to comment that the name change might not have worked for the franchise as they seem to be repeating the mistakes from the time they were called Delhi Daredevils.
Good to see the Delhi Daredevils are back playing tonight .... !!! #IPL2019— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) April 1, 2019
Kagiso Rabada was seated in the dressing room in shorts with opener Shikhar Dhawan for company as DC looked to be cruising to a victory over KKR at the Feroz Shah Kotla before a mini-collapse saw the game ending in a tie and the Super Overcoming into effect. But the South African pacer showed what professionalism is all about as he bowled six yorkers in the Super Over during the match on Saturday to take DC home by three runs in the nail-biter.
3 Tons already!
Sanju Samson smashed the maiden century of IPL 2019 but it was not enough as Sunrisers Hyderabad beat Rajasthan Royals by 5 wickets in Hyderabad on Friday. Later Hyderabad witnessed a 'royal' hammering as SRH openers David Warner and Jonny Bairstow smashed blistering tons to help the home team post a mammoth total of 231/2 in 20 overs against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Match 11 of the Indian Premier League.
The duo also went on to stitch a record highest opening stand in the IPL history - 185, surpassing the previously held record of 184, by KKR openers Gautam Gambhir and Chris Lynn back in 2017. While Warner celebrated with glee on scoring his 4th IPL century, Jonny Bairstow smashed his maiden IPL ton in his first season in the cash-rich league, becoming the second Englishman after Ben Stokes.
In an absolutely humdinger of a match, Englishman Sam Curran claimed the 2019 IPL's first hat-trick which led Kings XI Punjab to an incredible win over Delhi Capitals in Mohali. He also became the youngster player in IPL history to take a hat-trick. Curran, who was KXIP's costliest buy, proved his worth with an incredible spell at the back end as the home team pulled off a miraculous 14-run victory against Delhi Capitals left stunned by an inexplicable batting collapse in yesterday's IPL encounter.
(With Agencies inputs)