Ishant Sharma and Paul Valhaty have been the rising stars in the week one of IPL © Getty Images
Ishant Sharma and Paul Valhaty have been the rising stars in the week one of IPL © Getty Images

 

By Mayank Jhaveri

 

Finding their feet

 

Chennai Super Kings (CSK) notched up 188 against the Kings XI Punjab at Mohali. Everyone was in awe of Murali Vijay, Subramani Badrinath and Mahendra Singh Dhoni for their swashbuckling knocks. Gut feeling was it would be a close match considering the PCA Stadium is a small ground and KXIP had Adam Gilchrist, Abhishek Nayar, Shaun Marsh, Dinesh Karthik and Ryan McLaren in the line-up.

 

Out came Paul Valhaty, played some gutsy shots and took the clever singles/twos to smash a 52-ball 100. Fantastic to watch, everyone – except few CSK fans – loved it. The fire in his belly was evident when he celebrated after reaching the milestone. It was good to see a cricketer, who had lost his path, rediscovering his mojo.

 

Yet another player in the ‘Rising Star’ category is Bharat Chipli, who has been around for a while without actually doing much of note in domestic cricket.  But Chipli has made people take notice with his last couple of knocks in this IPL. His knocks weren’t exactly mindblowing as Valthaty’s effort, but they were smart knocks in which he mixed big shots (not slogs, mind you) and effective rotation of strike. Even though he ended up on the losing side in one of the games, Chipli looked calm and confident. I’m looking forward to seeing more of him.

 

The third player on this list has to be Mohnish Mishra. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying he is the next big thing. But the 30-odd knock against Muttiah Muralitharan and Company, showed he has good temperament. Not only did he have the guts to go after Murali, but he also picked up his variety quite easily. The way he finished the game would surely make Deccan Charger realize what they miss (Sunny Sohal as replacement for him, isn’t the right call, according to me). In all fairness, I don’t think he will get a chance like Valthaty to score a big one since he bats too low, but definitely could do a good job when required by Pune Warriors.

 

Unsung Hero

 

In the T20 format, bowlers are often forgotten and batsmen are the stars. One such player who has been consistent for his IPL team right from season one but has been neglected is Siddharth Trivedi.

 

Trivedi does’t have express pace, but his clever changes of pace have helped him fox various batsmen. One of the key reasons why Rajasthan Royals were able to restrict Delhi Daredevils to a small score was his disciplined bowling. He might not end up getting as many wickets as Malinga, but watch out for him.

 

Manoj Tiwary has been among the top batsmen in the domestic circuit for a while now. Recently, he showed why. Right from the first game, Tiwary has been timing the ball superbly and clearing the field with ease. Having likes of Jacques Kallis, Yusuf Pathan and Gautam Gambhir in his side, means people often forget what he is capable of. So far in his IPL career, he has been hot and cold, but this season could well see the turnaround.

 

Yet another player who had lost his way after a bright start as a teenager is Ambati Rayadu. After an impressive showing in ICL and IPL 3, Rayadu was a somewhat known face in cricketing circles. The last two knocks that he has played for Mumbai Indians have been classy and extremely effective. Unfortunately for him, Sachin Tendulkar has been batting along brilliantly and Ambati thus goes noticed. Nevertheless, Tendulkar has recognized his ability and has been him. The two together make batting look easy for Mumbai Indians and make them a tough opposition to knock over.

 

Overseas Impact

 

Jacques Kallis might not be youngest around but is surely among the finest around. Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) spent quite a sum of money to get this all-rounder, and he has done his job well so far, particularly with the bat. How many players would get you three fifties in three matches and that too at a consistent rate? To add to this, he can occasionally provide the crucial breakthrough and is more than safe in the field. Like in the previous IPLs, Kallis should often find the orange cap on his head.

 

Johan Botha is the surprise package among the international players so far. I knew he could bat a bit, but he has made the Rajasthan Royals look like a formidable side by batting superbly at No 3. Most would have criticized for promoting him ahead of the likes of Ross Taylor, but the plan seems to have worked with Botha playing according to the situation. His bowling is occasionally expensive but yet more than useful. He has surely had a good start to IPL 4, but I still doubt he will be among the top performers by the end of the season.

 

Surely anyone who has watched the IPL so far will not be surprised to find Lasith Malinga on this list. The current Purple cap holder from Mumbai Indians has really been instrumental for the team with sharp yorkers and also the slower ball. His five wickets against Delhi Daredevils demolished Virender Sehwag’s team and it was followed up by another decent show-up against the Royal Challengers Bangalore. The one bad match that he has had so far is the only one that Mumbai lost. It shows how crucial he is to the team. Every team will have to plan out his overs carefully and they sure will hope that he leaves for Sri Lanka’s tour of England early in May.

 

Notable mentions

 

Shane Warne looked sharp and right on the money and is quite a treat to watch.

 

Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) have won just one game out of the four they have played so far, but AB de Villiers and skipper Daniel Vettori have been doing their job nicely. With some support from the other side, these two could help RCB become serious contenders from their present weak position.

 

Badrinath and Murali Vijay played some attacking cricket to stun the Kings XI Punjab camp and set a very good total of 180+ which should have been defended except for the already-mentioned Valthaty blinder.

 

Tendulkar’s first T20 century against Kochi team was absolutely loved by the Mumbai audience. He played some unconventional strokes like the helicopter shot and made a 66-ball 100. That wonderful effort was followed by a determined opening stand by Brendon McCullum and Mahela Jayawardene. They were positive and built a fantastic base on which the team built very well to stun the crowd and pull of their first win in IPL.

 

Ishant Sharma, who is now playing for the Deccan Chargers this season, has been bowling brilliantly. The pitch at Hyderabad’s stadium has provided some bounce and movement, but what is heartening to see is that he has consistently clocked 150 kmph mark. Might not have picked a heap of wickets, but he has been beating the batsmen on a regular basis. Good signs for India with a West Indies and England tour ahead.

 

One can’t forget Gautam Gambhir’s blistering knock against the Rajasthan Royals. It was probably the most dominating knock of the tournament so far as he played everyone, from Shane Watson to champion Warne, with ease. A target which looked good to defend, seemed 30 runs too less all of a sudden. If it was a sign of things to come, then Gambhir could make this IPL his own like he did in IPL season one.

 

(Mayank Jhaveri is 19-year old cricket blogger from New Delhi who writes at http://www.freehitcricket.com and can be found on twitter @freehit_mj)