Arun Gopalakrishnan in Mumbai 28 April 2014 - 04:21pm IST
IPL Hidden Gems: Week 2
Here are five players who have silently made a big impact on proceedings this week
Smith, who turned out for the Mumbai Indians previously, was acquired by the Chennai Super Kings in the 2014 Pepsi IPL Player Auction. And the 31-year-old from Barbados has wasted little time in establishing himself in his new team. Given how reluctant CSK and MS Dhoni are to ring changes in the team, it was important that Smith made an impact early in the season. And he has done just that! Starts in each one of his five innings so far – three of them converted into half-centuries – and a rocking partnership with Brendon McCullum means Smith has now nailed his place in the team. At the end of Week 2, Smith was second only to Glenn Maxwell in the Orange Cap standings; his 240 runs – 70 percent of which were scored in boundaries – came at a strike-rate of 143.71.
There’s a school of thought that players need to be young, very fit, agile, athletic and possess sharp reflexes to do well in T20 cricket. But Pravin Tambe – all of 42 years old – has broken that myth. The leg-spinner from Mumbai – who has grown to be an integral part of the Rajasthan Royals team – has shown that performance (in whichever particular discipline – batting or bowling) should be the foremost criteria to judge players. Tambe picked up five wickets in his last two outings – including the scalps of the ever-so-dangerous MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli – conceding only 47 runs in eight overs.
Royal Challengers Bangalore sprung in a surprise when they fielded Yogesh Takawale in their playing XI for their match against KKR. After a brief stint with the Mumbai Indians in the inaugural season of the IPL, the 29-year-old fell off the radar and was banished to the wilderness. However, this time when opportunity presented itself, the Maharashtra-born – who scored 839 runs in the Ranji Trophy this season – did not let it slip. Takawale set the ball rolling for his team by scoring an impressive 28-ball 40. What was impressive about that knock was his attitude against the best; he singled out the menacing Morne Morkel for special treatment, hitting him for six boundaries and scored 27 runs off 12 balls against him.
T20 is fast-paced cricket… but not so much for Kings XI Punjab’s L Balaji. The 32-year-old is capable of surprising batsmen every now and then with a delivery that skids off the surface. But his strength lies in taking the pace off the ball and making batsmen generate bat speed to take chances against him. And his ploy worked brilliantly in his two outings in the last week. Apart from conceding only 34 runs in seven overs, he returned with five wickets – including the scalps of destructive batsmen like Jacques Kallis, Aaron Finch, David Warner and Darren Sammy.
Akshar Patel continues to impress with his left-arm spin in Pepsi IPL 2014. The 20-year-old from Gujarat, who never got an opportunity to play for the Mumbai Indians previously, has excelled in all four matches for KXIP so far. With not-too fussy action, Patel hits the right areas consistently and has a deceptive arm-ball. In his last two outings, he picked up four wickets, conceding only 36 runs in eight overs. Not only has he been KXIP’s most economical bowler so far this season, he is also the only one in the team to bowl the complete quota of four overs in every match. Impressive stuff!