Gayle, Pietersen steal the show
While Ajinkya Rahane and Rajasthan Royals dominated the batting stats during the first ten days of IPL 2012, the previous week was all about the exploits of Chris Gayle and Kevin Pietersen. Gayle, the leading run-scorer in IPL 2011, had a quiet start to this season before regaining form with three half-centuries, his last two coming in challenging chases. Pietersen, who entered this season following a stunning century against Sri Lanka in the second Test, scored the second hundred of the tournament, leading Delhi Daredevils to a comfortable win over Deccan Chargers. The best bowling performances in the previous week came from less-known bowlers. While Shahbaz Nadeem's 3 for 16 against Chargers set up the win for Daredevils, Parvinder Awana's 4 for 34 and Kieron Pollard's 2 for 14 came in defeats.
Pietersen, who came in at No. 3 and struck nine sixes during his innings, scored 103 off 64 balls at a strike rate of 160.93. In comparison, the other batsmen in the game scored at a strike rate of 120.46. Pietersen's match-winning effort is now second on the list of best batting performances in this season's IPL, behind Rahane's century against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Gayle's 87 off 56 balls and his 131-run stand with AB de Villiers helped Royal Challengers overhaul Kings XI Punjab's 165. Gayle's strike rate in the match (155.35) was well above the strike rate of the other batsmen (124.86). In Royal Challengers' previous game against Warriors, Gayle once again was the key as he smashed 81 off 48 balls with eight sixes, including five in a single over.
All stats updated until April 22
|Ajinkya Rahane||Rajasthan Royals||Royal Challengers||103||54.25|
|Kevin Pietersen||Delhi Daredevils||Deccan Chargers||103||53.46|
|Owais Shah||Rajasthan Royals||Royal Challengers||60||49.83|
|Ajinkya Rahane||Rajasthan Royals||Kings XI Punjab||98||47.72|
|Chris Gayle||Royal Challengers||Kings XI Punjab||87||46.16|
|Dwayne Bravo||Chennai Super Kings||Deccan Chargers||43||45.35|
|Gautam Gambhir||Kolkata Knight Riders||Royal Challengers||64||45.13|
|Rohit Sharma||Mumbai Indians||Deccan Chargers||73||44.85|
|Gautam Gambhir||Kolkata Knight Riders||Royal Challengers||66||43.81|
|Chris Gayle||Royal Challengers||Pune Warriors||81||43.18|
During the week there were quite a few innings that featured in ESPNcricinfo's top 20 best performances in this IPL. In the Kings XI-Mumbai Indians game, both Shaun Marsh and James Franklin struck half-centuries for their respective teams but Marsh's effort proved to be more crucial as Kings XI upstaged Mumbai Indians for the sixth time in nine meetings. Faf du Plessis (Chennai Super Kings) and Jesse Ryder (Warriors) continued their good form with significant contributions in victories against Royal Challengers and Daredevils. While Gayle's consistency helped him displace Marsh on top of the overall batsmen list, Pietersen leapt up from 47th place to 14th. Yusuf Pathan, who has had a horror start to this season (29 runs in five innings), dropped from 11th to 18th.
Bowlers dominated the tournament for the first few days, with top performances from spinners and pace bowlers. Ravindra Jadeja's 5 for 16 against Chargers and Sunil Narine's five-wicket haul against Kings XI continue to hold the top two spots on the list of best bowling performances. Nadeem's 3 for 16 against Chargers, which is ranked seventh, is the only change in the top ten. Nadeem's economy rate was 4.00 in a game where the match run-rate was 8.14. In addition, his three wickets were those of top-order batsmen. Awana picked up the first four wickets to fall during his spell of 4 for 34 against Royal Challengers but was unable to prevent defeat. His economy rate, although high (8.50), was almost on par with the match run-rate (8.32).
R Ashwin's performances this season have not been impressive. Although his economy rate is low (6.53), he has taken only three wickets at an average of 57.33. As a result, he has dropped from third to sixth on the overall bowling list. On the other hand, Muttiah Muralitharan has picked up eight wickets at an average of 14 and economy rate of 7.00. He's moved up from seventh to fourth.
|Ravindra Jadeja||Chennai Super Kings||Deccan Chargers||5/16||59.08|
|Sunil Narine||Kolkata Knight Riders||Kings XI Punjab||5/19||51.40|
|Dale Steyn||Deccan Chargers||Mumbai Indians||3/12||49.66|
|Dimitri Mascarenhas||Kings XI Punjab||Pune Warriors||5/25||49.33|
|L Balaji||Kolkata Knight Riders||Royal Challengers||4/18||49.10|
|Munaf Patel||Mumbai Indians||Deccan Chargers||4/20||48.40|
|Shahbaz Nadeem||Delhi Daredevils||Deccan Chargers||3/16||47.14|
|Lasith Malinga||Mumbai Indians||Rajasthan Royals||2/13||47.06|
|Siddharth Trivedi||Rajasthan Royals||Royal Challengers||4/25||46.87|
|Muttiah Muralitharan||Royal Challengers||Chennai Super Kings||3/21||46.38|
Rahul Sharma, who was hit by Gayle for five consecutive sixes in an over, has slipped out of the top ten after a below par start. His average (27.66) and economy rate (7.54) in seven matches are well above his corresponding figures before the start of IPL 2012 (20.95 and 6.22).
Perhaps the biggest surprise is the entry of Morne Morkel into the top ten. After six matches, Morkel leads the wickets tally with 15 at an average of 10.80, and an economy rate just over seven. Before the tournament he had 13 wickets at an average of 33.15 and economy rate of 7.56.
Madhusudhan Ramakrishnan is a sub-editor (stats) at ESPNcricinfo