It has been an expectedly action-packed week at the IPL. New boys Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) and Gujarat Titans (GT) have been in fine fettle, beating competition mainstays with consummate ease, with LSG, in particular, chasing down 211 against defending champions Chennai Super Kings (CSK) last Thursday. Under Ravindra Jadeja, CSK have now lost three out of three, after finishing second best to LSG and Punjab Kings (PBKS) — who themselves tasted defeat versus the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) on Friday — in quick succession. Fellow powerhouses Mumbai Indians (MI) have had their share of struggles as well, and could not get past Rajasthan Royals (RR) last weekend. The Royals, very much on a roll, came unstuck against the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) onTuesday, losing their perfect record in the IPL in the process. As for the rest, KKR bounced back from a loss to RCB by beating PBKS in style while the Delhi Capitals’ (DC) bright start to the tournament was dimmed on Saturday after they failed to hunt down the runs needed to see off GT.
With the results recap done and dusted, it is time for My Kolkata to select the second IPL team of the week for 2022, with all matches between March 30 and April 5 taken into consideration. As usual, the emphasis is on balance, with a maximum of four overseas players allowed in the lineup. Additionally, no more than three players from the same franchise can make it to the weekly XI. With that in mind, here is our pick of the players from the latest week of games in the IPL.
Jos Buttler (RR)
Jos Buttler’s 170 runs in two games make him the best batter in the IPL this week, that too by some distanceBCCI
When RR retained wicketkeeper-batsman Buttler at the auction in February, this is exactly the kind of week they would have dreamt of. First, Buttler produced the inaugural century of IPL 2022 against MI on Saturday, off just 68 balls, studded with five maximums. Then, he carried his bat against RCB on Tuesday, scoring a valuable 70 off 47 to make the Orange Cap a formality. Oddly, Buttler hit no fours but half a dozen sixes the second time around. For his century over the weekend, Buttler unleashed his full repertoire of strokes, with his golf-esque swings over mid-wicket depositing many a ball in the stands. Against RCB, the English batter was forced to be more restrained, but still managed to break the shackles at frequent intervals, combining steely industry with calculated improvisation.
Shubman Gill (GT)
Shubman Gill played an innings of considerable class and maturity for GT against DCBCCI
Much of Gill’s IPL career so far has been about picturesque cameos that have showcased his talent without making much of a difference to his team’s results. Against DC, however, Gill did not merely decorate the game, he decided it, too. His 84 runs off 46 balls had class stamped all over it, with the expected shifting of gears in the second half that we have come to expect from any top-class T20 opener. Not only did the knock help GT reach a healthy total of 171, it also gave Gill ample time at the crease with the likes of Hardik Pandya and David Miller, both batters Gill will need to partner more with if Gujarat are to keep meeting their targets with the bat.
Tilak Varma (MI)
At just 19, Tilak Varma has already proven his mettle for MIBCCI
Batting at number four for MI in your debut IPL season is not an opportunity most 19-year-olds get. But Varma, a dynamic southpaw from Hyderabad, seized his golden chance with both hands against RR, punching his way to 61 runs, thanks to three fours and five stupendous sixes. After MI lost Rohit Sharma and Anmolpreet Singh cheaply, Varma rebuilt the innings along with Ishan Kishan and kept MI in the game until Ravichandran Ashwin disturbed the woodwork to send Varma back. A big score so early in the tournament will do wonders for Varma’s confidence as he tries to consolidate his place amidst a galaxy of stars at the IPL’s most successful franchise.
Liam Livingstone (PBKS)
Liam Livingstone put in a wonderful all-round performance for PBKS against CSKBCCI
Prior to the start of this year’s IPL, Livingstone was one among a sea of overseas stars whose performances would plummet under the bright lights of the world’s greatest T20 tournament. However, following a disappointing outing against KKR, Livingstone turned on the strokes in the very next game against CSK. He got a reprieve when Mahendra Singh Dhoni called for a referral on his own catch and the replays showed that the ball had touched the grass. Thereafter, the Englishman hit top gear and his 60 runs with a fabulous strike rate of 187.50 were pivotal in Punjab batting CSK out of the game. But Livingstone was not done yet. He even chipped in with the ball, getting rid of Shivam Dube and Dwayne Bravo to complete a comprehensive all-round display.
Shivam Dube (CSK)
Despite CSK’s woes, Shivam Dube has been firing on all cylinders for the men in yellowBCCI
It seems like an age ago that Dube was a confused soul who had no idea what his role was at RCB. Having switched the red and black for the yellow of CSK, the 28-year-old is suddenly playing like a man transformed. He executed his role of middle-order smasher to perfection last week, first with a 30-ball-49 against LSG and then with an even better 57 off 30 against PBKS. On both occasions, Chennai fell short, but Dube’s clean hitting only vindicated CSK’s decision to make him a priority at the auction earlier this year.
Deepak Hooda (LSG)
Deepak Hooda has been one of the most improved players in the IPL so far this seasonBCCI
One of the best Indian utility batters in the IPL this year, Hooda failed to seal the chase against CSK, but sparkled against SRH, scoring 51 runs off 33 balls to take LSG to 169 in the first innings. Having joined his skipper K.L. Rahul at 27 for 3, Hooda played the situation and manipulated the field adroitly, putting on 87 runs for the fourth wicket, before falling to Romario Shepherd. By then, though, LSG had seized the initiative back from SRH, and it was left to the emerging Ayush Badoni and the experienced duo of Krunal Pandya and Jason Holder to finish the job.
Andre Russell (KKR)
Andre Russell did what he does best against PBKS, winning the match single handedly for KKRTT Archives
Big players invariably pick big moments to make a big impact. After a largely forgettable encounter against RCB, especially with the ball, that is precisely what Russell did when KKR took on PBKS. Having dismissed Kagiso Rabada, who was making Punjab’s tail wag with a flourish, Russell came out to bat with KKR tottering at 51 for four, still 87 shy of victory. He took the chase by the scruff of the neck, plundering 70 off just 31 balls, including eight towering sixes. For the maths geeks out there, Russell polished off more than 80 per cent of the runs needed (when he arrived to bat) all by himself, which was good enough to give him temporary possession of the Orange Cap.
Rahul Chahar (PBKS)
Under Anil Kumble’s guidance at Punjab, Rahul Chahar has been a revelation this yearBCCI
Chahar was the only player from PBKS to have something to cheer about after his team had been outplayed by KKR. His two for 13 in four overs, which even saw him bowl a maiden, added some chaos to an otherwise predictable affair. The leg-spinner got the important wickets of Shreyas Iyer and Nitish Rana. Against CSK, Chahar showed no signs of complacency, removing a struggling M.S. Dhoni, before cleaning up the tail to end with figures of three for 25 in four overs. His current economy rate of just 3.25 runs per over sees him in third place in the overall charts for this season.
Umesh Yadav (KKR)
The Purple Cup sits proudly on the head of Umesh Yadav, who had another gem of a weekTT Archives
The only player to retain his place from last week’s best XI, Umesh Yadav, the holder of the Purple Cap, is having a ball in IPL 2022. Discipline and dedication defined his performance against RCB, during which he got the all-important breakthrough of Virat Kohli. But it was against PBKS that Kolkata’s spearhead entered his purple patch. First, he trapped Mayank Agarwal plumb in front. Then, he made Livingstone find Tim Southee in the deep. Finally, he returned in the 15th over to eliminate Harpreet Brar and Chahar, capping off a superb evening’s work.
Avesh Khan (LSG)
Avesh Khan justified the big money LSG paid for him by stepping up to the plate against SRHTT Archives
What a week it has been for Avesh, who managed to pick up six wickets across two games to find himself in second place on the Purple Cap rankings. In a game where both teams scored in excess of 200, Avesh went at 9.50 runs per over against CSK, with Moeen Ali and Dube becoming his first scalps of the week. Then, in arguably the best showing by an IPL fast bowler this season, man-of-the-match Avesh pocketed four wickets for just 24 runs against SRH. Both Abhishek Sharma and Kane Williamson fell to Avesh inside the powerplay. Then, in the game-turning 18th over, he removed the dangerous Nicholas Pooran and the promising Abdul Samad in consecutive balls.
Lockie Ferguson (GT)
Lockie Ferguson’s bag of tricks was too much to handle for DC’s top orderBCCI
GT versus DC would have been a completely different encounter had there been no Ferguson to offset DC’s high-voltage batting. Three of DC’s top four, including Rishabh Pant on 43, were taken out by Ferguson’s unteachable ability to read the batter’s mind and outfox them with his array of variations. Having settled several games for KKR in the past, it was heartening for all cricket lovers to see the Kiwi reprise his role as a matchwinner with the ball for GT, who must preserve him in cotton wool as the juggernaut of the IPL rolls on.