With 20 games completed, we're done with the first third of the 2020 IPL. There are plenty of contenders for the orange and purple caps, but let's turn our focus to the tournament's unsung heroes. We look at five players who perhaps deserve more acclaim for their feats this season.
179 runs in five innings, average 35.80, strike rate 147.93
In a Delhi Capitals line-up that has three other batsmen who are regulars in the Indian team, 20-year-old Shaw has been the rock of their batting, playing a significant role in their four wins. In the nine IPL games in which Shaw has gone past 25, his team has won eight times, including all three such instances in 2020.
Shaw said his role is to see off the powerplay by playing along the ground, even if it means he has to curb his natural instincts to do so. The ball swinging in has not troubled him like it did last season - he successfully negotiated Deepak Chahar's first spell in his 43-ball 64 against the Chennai Super Kings. He pummelled a Kolkata Knight Riders attack led by Pat Cummins in Sharjah, hammering four fours and four sixes in a 41-ball 66.
Earlier this week, his batting at the top flustered Virat Kohli enough to introduce Yuzvendra Chahal into the attack during the powerplay. But Shaw had no trouble getting past the legspinner during his 23-ball 42. His innings helped the Capitals post 196; RCB lost by 59 runs.
Nine wickets in six innings, average 19.88, economy 7.72
Pattinson, who replaced Lasith Malinga and has now kept Nathan Coulter-Nile out of the Mumbai Indians line-up, has a better economy than team-mates Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult. He has taken at least two wickets in four of his matches this year and has conceded less than 30 runs in five. His scalps include Sunil Narine, David Warner, Manish Pandey and Jos Buttler. Pattinson has impressed with his control with the new ball, which has given his captain, Rohit Sharma, the liberty to bowl Bumrah at first change. Pattinson's short balls are menacing, his yorkers have sent batsmen scurrying, and the combination of the two makes him a reliable death bowler as well.
One sixty-three runs in five innings, average 163, strike rate 208.97; two wickets
It wasn't long ago that Pollard was not able to hold down a place in the Mumbai Indians XI, but now he's arguably the first overseas player on their team sheet. He has had something of a batting resurgence over the last 18 months, and has played the role of finisher exquisitely. He has had two significant cameos so far this year: a seven-ball 13 against the Knight Riders and a 13-ball 25 against the Sunrisers Hyderabad. He dragged a match against the Royal Challengers into a Super Over by smashing 60 in 24 balls; and he muscled 47 in 20 balls against the Kings XI Punjab.
Despite the high risks required to maintain a strike rate over 200, he has been dismissed only once in five innings. Add his two wickets and catching at fielding hot spots to the mix, and it's clear why he has been one of the MVPs of the tournament so far.
four wickets in four innings, average 16.00, economy 4.57
The Capitals left-arm spinner has the best economy in the 2020 IPL so far, and has been successful in both the powerplay and middle overs. Patel has used his height to get extra bounce on length balls, and his marginal turn has kept batsmen guessing. His 1 for 14 against the Kings XI helped take the game into a Super Over that the Capitals won. He opened the bowling against the Super Kings and tied down Shane Watson before dismissing him for the sixth time in 60 deliveries. And his 0 for 14 against the Sunrisers played a crucial role in restricting them to 162 despite losing only four wickets. But Patel saved his best for the contest against RCB, where his 2 for 18 earned him a Man-of-the-Match award over Marcus Stoinis' fifty and Kagiso Rabada's four-for.
eight wickets in five innings, average 19.12, economy 8.19
Shami has played only 11 T20Is in his career, which includes the three from earlier this year in New Zealand. But the way he has bowled in this IPL for the Kings XI suggests he has almost certainly claimed his spot as India's second new-ball bowler in the format for the near future. The pitches in the UAE have assisted pace bowlers, and Shami has replicated his Test-bowling lines and lengths in this IPL. In his first game of the season, his 3 for 15 included the wickets of Shaw, Shimron Hetmyer and Shreyas Iyer.
Against RCB, he bowled ten dot balls in a three-over spell while conceding only 14 runs. His three-for against the Rajasthan Royals on a difficult Sharjah surface included the wickets of half-centurions Sanju Samson and Rahul Tewatia. One of the reasons why the Kings XI are at the bottom of the points table is because Shami has not found support from the other bowlers.