The IPL is back to life, with its penchant for delivering fresh as well as familiar heroes very much intact. The inaugural day of the season saw the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) make light work of the reigning champions Chennai Super Kings (CSK) at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium, with KKR skipper Shreyas Iyer hitting the winning runs. Super Sunday began with the Delhi Capitals (DC) getting the better of the Mumbai Indians (MI) and handing Rohit Sharma and Co. a 10th opening game defeat in as many seasons! The Punjab Kings (PBKS) rounded off the weekend by laying down a marker and chasing 206 against the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). On Monday, it was the Gujarat Titans (GT) who came out on top in the battle of the new boys, sneaking past the Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) with two balls to spare. A day later, a rejuvenated Rajasthan Royals (RR) became the first team this season to successfully defend a score as they comfortably held off the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) to go top of the table .
Now that we have watched every franchise in action, it is time for My Kolkata to select the first IPL team of the week for 2022, with all matches between March 26 and March 29 taken into consideration. As usual, the emphasis on balance and team coordination remains paramount, with a maximum of four overseas players allowed in the XI. 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 first round of games in IPL 2022.
Faf du Plessis (RCB)
Faf du Plessis made up for a slow start against PBKS by going hammer and tongs in the second half of his inningsBCCI
Having started off his innings in an apparent attempt to convince the South African selectors that he still deserves a place in the Protean Test side, Faf put on the afterburners midway through his stay at the crease to accelerate in some style. Alongside Virat Kohli, the RCB skipper launched into the PBKS bowling from the 12th over onwards, going through the gears and finishing with a dazzling 88 off just 57 balls, with seven sixes to boot. A captain’s knock from Faf that makes him a no-brainer in our team of the week.
Ishan Kishan (MI)
Ishan Kishan took his time to get in against DC, but once set, provided fantastic value for time spent at the creaseBCCI
MI’s golden boy came up trumps against DC, smashing 81 runs in no time to help the five-time champions put up a competitive total of 177 on the board. Kishan and Rohit Sharma blazed their way to 67 runs for the first wicket, with the former letting his captain do the bulk of the scoring. But once Rohit departed, Kishan took charge, manipulating the DC field with ease and carrying his bat through the innings in what is going to be a huge confidence booster for the most expensive player at this year’s auction.
Sanju Samson (RR)
Sanju Samson was his typically flamboyant self in a quickfire half-century for RR against SRHBCCI
When in full flow, few batters in the IPL are easier on the eye than Samson, who milked his way to 55 off just 27 against the Sunrisers. Taking full advantage of some dispirited SRH bowling, Samson built a strong foundation for the RR innings in tandem with Devdutt Padikkal, stroking five stupendous sixes in the process. But as has been the norm with Samson, the 27-year-old could not kick on to get a bigger score, even though RR — thanks chiefly to a bludgeoning knock from Shimron Hetmyer — posted an imposing score of 210.
Lalit Yadav (DC)
Lalit Yadav has showed he has the ability to succeed in the IPLBCCI
Not much was known about the 25-year-old before Sunday’s game against MI, but Lalit Yadav seized his opportunity in DC’s middle order as he, along with Axar Patel, emerged as the match-winners in a tricky run chase. Having lost the likes of Rishabh Pant, Mandeep Singh and Rovman Powell cheaply, DC needed someone to hold one end while first Shardul Thakur and then Axar teed off at the other. Yadav played this role to perfection, ending with an unbeaten 48 off 38 that saw DC over the line and dented Jasprit Bumrah’s reputation as one of the finest death-over specialists.
Rahul Tewatia (GT)
Rahul Tewatia is no flash in the pan, as another match-winning outing against LSG provedBCCI
What can you say about Tewatia, the man who has created a cult status in the IPL by making the impossible look inevitable! GT’s pocket-sized dynamo had his work cut out against LSG on Monday night, but his nerveless finishing made it look all too easy at the end. Stroking 40 off just 24 balls, including two maximums, Tewatia proved that he still has the craft and the raw power to pull off Michael Bevan-esque run chases under pressure. We admit that LSG’s bowling is not the toughest, but on his day, Tewatia can take any attack to the cleaners, as he may well show in the weeks to come.
Mahendra Sing Dhoni (CSK)
Mahendra Singh Dhoni opened the IPL in vintage style with the bat, even though CSK rarely looked in command against KKRBCCI
Did MSD take his exclusion from our IPL XI to watch out for personally? Well, if he did, he certainly provided the perfect response, notching up his first IPL half-century since 2019 to steer CSK to a respectable total of 131. Having started with utmost caution, Dhoni got a couple of streaky boundaries and a gift of a full toss from Shivam Mavi, which helped him break the shackles. Thereafter it was trademark Thala as the ex-CSK skipper brought out the vintage Mahi shots to set the Wankhede on fire. At 40, we are not going to see too many more such explosions from Dhoni, which makes his effort against KKR all the more memorable.
Odean Smith (PBKS)
Could Odean Smith be the next West Indian superstar to take the IPL by storm?BCCI
So what if Chris Gayle is not playing the IPL this year? There is always Odean Smith to count on if you are looking for some Caribbean pyrotechnics with the bat. Smith had had a forgettable day with the ball against RCB, but more than made up for it with a power-packed cameo that saw him plunder 25 runs off just eight balls. While we have seen Smith go downtown with the bat in other franchise leagues, this was his breakthrough moment in the IPL, one that could go on to acquire even greater significance should the all-rounder make it a habit of turning up when it counts.
Dwayne Bravo (CSK)
Dwayne Bravo introduced a new hairstyle as well as new celebration against KKRBCCI
Eyebrows were raised when CSK bought back Bravo at the auction in February, but the 38-year-old demonstrated against KKR that he still has his fair share of champion moves left in the locker. With figures of three for 20 in four overs, Bravo not only gave CSK some hope in an otherwise predictable run chase, he also matched MI legend Lasith Malinga as the most successful bowler in the history of IPL. While we are certain that Bravo will not be able to maintain his stellar economy rate for the rest of the season, his discipline on Saturday was a reminder that the West Indian can still execute his bag of tricks against top-class batters.
Mohammed Shami (GT)
Mohammed Shami got GT off to a dream start in the IPL by getting a wicket off the very first ball in the franchise’s historyBCCI
Is this the year Shami finally plays to potential in the IPL, silencing those who think he cannot translate his form in the India whites to the whims of franchise T20 cricket? For starters, the pacer made waves against LSG, sending K.L. Rahul packing for a duck, castling Quinton de Kock and later Manish Pandey, all for just 25 runs in four overs. With his fitness looking better than ever and his hunger for wickets far from satiated, this could be the season Shami dominates the IPL’s bowling charts.
Kuldeep Yadav (DC)
Kuldeep Yadav bamboozled MI, picking up three crucial wicketsBCCI
Gone are the days when his name was among the first on the KKR team sheet. Nowadays, Kuldeep is having to showcase his mettle all over again, but at least he is not short of motivation. Against MI, Kuldeep weaved his web so efficiently that he conceded only 18 runs in his four-over spell, which saw him get rid of Anmolpreet Singh and Kieron Pollard cheaply after he had initially put the brakes on MI’s excellent beginning by dismissing Rohit Sharma. With Pant as his skipper, Kuldeep will get all the backing he needs, and if his performance against MI is anything to go by, he should live up to the belief his captain has in him.
Umesh Yadav (KKR)
Umesh Yadav was back to his mercurial best for KKR against CSKBCCI
Obituaries have been written about Umesh’s career at the highest level for sometime now, but the KKR speedster turned them into premature speculation with a display against CSK that dialled the clock back. In a breathtaking spell of fast bowling, during which he went at just five runs per over in quota of four, Yadav removed both CSK openers to help KKR draw first blood. It is not often that fast bowlers get to have a field day at the Wankhede, especially under lights. But still with pace to burn, Yadav did just that in a performance that could resurrect his IPL career.