IPL 2012 May 27, 2012

A bright first impression

Five players who made their IPL debuts this season, and left their mark

Azhar Mahmood
Runs: 186 at 23.25
Wickets: 14 at 23.50
Economy-rate: 7.71

He was the only player to have represented Pakistan in the past and played in this IPL, his participation made possible by his British citizenship though that, too, didn't spare him from some initial visa delays. Azhar Mahmood's exploits with Surrey and Kent had won him a reputation as a very reliable asset in the shortest version and he didn't disappoint, his medium-pacers, spiced up with variations, delivering wickets consistently for Kings XI and a couple of handy cameos helping his side get over the line. Snapped up for US$200,000, Mahmood was well worth the sum.

Sunil Narine
Wickets: 24 at 11.95
Economy-rate: 5.20

"Oh shit, no way, man," was Sunil Narine's reaction when he heard he'd been bought by Kolkata Knight Riders for US$700,000. He's been his team's trump card: his high action, ability to turn it both ways, changes in pace and revealing very little with his fingers combined to confound the best this IPL. His spells were replete with close shaves, and frequent with rewards. His highlight was his battle against Sachin Tendulkar in Mumbai, ending with the batsman bowled while trying to cut, the ball turning wildly towards leg stump and clipping his pads to knock back off.

Brad Hogg
Wickets: 10 at 25.30
Economy-rate: 7.02

Brad Hogg was among the most excitable commentators in the IPL's previous season, standing out with his sudden peaks in decibel levels. But, despite being 41 - he was the oldest player in the IPL - he realised his best contribution to the game still lay on the field. His left-arm chinaman is a rare skill, backed up by plenty of experience and a crucial weapon in the wrong'un. His exploits in the BBL helped him win a US$180,000 signing with Rajasthan Royals, and he repaid them by picking wickets in seven of the nine games he played.

Parvinder Awana
Wickets: 17 at 21.88
Economy-rate: 7.91

When Parvinder Awana was left out of the India A squad for the tour of the West Indies, despite an impressive domestic season, he had said he'd grown accustomed to such rejections. At the end of Kings XI Punjab's IPL campaign, he found out he'd been brought into the squad as a replacement for the injured RP Singh and few would question his inclusion. He stood out among the Indian seamers, nipped the ball both ways, found swing when conditions were favourable and bowled often in the high 130s with excellent carry. He picked up wickets in a clutter, his economy rate though could do with more improvement.

Ben Hilfenhaus
Wickets: 12 at 17.33
Economy-rate: 6.93

Ben Hilfenhaus was picked up by Chennai Super Kings for US$100,000 before the 2011 season, one he missed due to injury. Bouncebackability was the key feature to his success this season. He was smashed for 14 off the last three balls of the match by Dwayne Smith, who snatched victory for Mumbai Indians. Hilfenhaus was distraught after the game but fought back superbly. He was accurate, swung the ball, his away-going deliveries troubled many batsmen and the rest of his season, for the most part, was marked by remarkable consistency. He picked at least a wicket in every game he played and remained his team's go-to bowler.

Siddhartha Talya is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments