IPL 2010 April 26, 2010

Five of the IPL's best

A look at five of the biggest domestic Indian successes in the third IPL

Saurabh Tiwary
Matches - 16
Runs - 419
Average - 29.92
Strike-rate - 135.59

Banking on Tiwary, who had a very successful domestic season, and promoting him to No. 3 for the majority of the tournament was one of Mumbai Indians' most inspired decisions. However, they didn't repeat the successful tactic when it most mattered, in the final. Tiwary, who hails from Jharkhand, began the IPL with two half-centuries and finished it as the Under-23 Success of the Tournament.

Tiwary's achievements for Mumbai at the top of the order came in for praise from his IPL captain Sachin Tendulkar, who promoted him above seasoned Twenty20 batsmen such as Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard. Apart from the first two matches, Tiwary also scored crucial runs in the win over Kings XI Punjab at home and the semi-final against Royal Challengers Bangalore.

His batting style and appearance have a striking resemblance to his more famous state senior, India captain MS Dhoni, which has inevitably led to comparisons. Tiwary acknowledged Dhoni has had an impact on him, in the few games they have played together at the domestic level. How he progresses from this IPL is going to be fascinating to watch.

Ambati Rayudu
Matches - 14
Runs - 356
Average - 27.38
Strike-rate - 144.71

Taking Tiwary's name is not without speaking of Rayudu, the other major batting revelation of IPL 2010. The pair formed the backbone of Mumbai's batting after Tendulkar's amazing run at the top, and it was heartening to see Rayudu's success in front of a widespread audience. Once touted as a future India player, a claustrophobic Rayudu - through a combination of lack of runs, hurt at being considered a flash in the pan, and injury - joined the rebel ICL in 2007. Only once he cut ties and returned to domestic cricket was he signed up by Mumbai, and what a decision that proved to be. Repeatedly scoring runs in tough situations, and forced to keep wickets for a majority of the tournament, Rayudu acquitted himself extremely well.

Where a lot of batsmen, Indian and overseas, struggled against the short ball in the IPL Rayudu was relatively comfortable against the barrage. His ability to play the ball late gave him a fraction more time to get on top of the bounce, despite his short stature, and his technical nous made him an ideal Twenty20 player. Rayudu was an ideal remedy for top-order wobbles and some of his inside-out shots over the off side, as well as pick-up shots over mid-on, were sights to behold. His innings against Deccan Chargers was his most fluent and influential. His wicketkeeping was particularly alert in the semi-final against Bangalore, especially the leg-side stumping of Kevin Pietersen.

Vinay Kumar
Matches 14
Wickets - 16
Average - 24.75

Vinay Kumar was the chief beneficiary of IPL 2010 as he earned his first call-up to the Indian team. His ticket to the West Indies for the ICC World Twenty20 was a deserved opportunity and one long overdue.

Despite strong Ranji Trophy showings, he had seen bowlers get into the Indian team on the back of their IPL performances. But, in this season, he honed his craft and finished the fifth highest wicket-taker. Noticeable were the addition of an effective inswinger and a bag of tricks so pertinent to the demands of Twenty20 cricket. What he lacked in pace, Vinay more than made up for with unlimited heart.

R Ashwin
Matches - 12
Wickets - 13
Average - 22.53

Opening the bowling with a spinner became commonplace this IPL but none was as successful as Ashwin, an offspinner who combined line and length with appreciable control to repeatedly stifle big bats. Ashwin was a first-choice pick for the initial few games, but was dropped, as Chennai Super Kings tried to sort out combinations. But he returned to the XI when his team was forced to rest Muttiah Muralitharan to meet the overseas quotient. The rest, as they say, is history.

Match after match, as the pressure mounted on Chennai - who had reached the IPL semi-finals each time - Ashwin took the new ball and never failed to impress. Most importantly, he solved Chennai's new-ball blues with a series of tight spells. He had worked on a carrom-ball during his time playing domestic cricket, and in the IPL, that left many a big batsmen guessing which way the ball will turn. His successive double-wicket overs were stunning, and the second led to a much-needed win for Chennai. It was a knock-out game against Kolkata Knight Riders at the MA Chidambaram Stadium and Ashwin's three top-order wickets were blows Kolkata couldn't recover from.

Naman Ojha
Matches - 14
Runs - 377
Average - 31.41
Strike-rate - 132.28

Ojha's performance was the one silver lining in a poor campaign for Rajasthan Royals. He isn't a top-order batsman to hang about and see what's on offer, and that has in the past often led to Ojha's dismissal after a fleeting score. Matters appeared to be headed the same way in 2010, and his 14-ball 24 against Delhi Daredevils, when he hit Amit Mishra for 4, 4, and 6 before swiping and being bowled, indicated how frustrating a player Ojha could be.

But then came the injury that ruled Graeme Smith out of the IPL and, with Shane Watson not yet available, Ojha was promoted to open. A series of handy cameos followed before he slammed 80 off 49 balls against Chennai, an effort that earned Ojha the Man-of-the-Match award. An unbeaten 94 was also a highlight, though the second time around Chennai emerged triumphant, and Ojha finished in the top ten runs-scorers of the competition.

His role as a skilled wicketkeeper makes him a useful allrounder. He wasn't always consistent, but Ojha was definitely the star of Rajasthan's disappointing season.

Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo