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Feature

Back in style - the stars who raised their game in IPL 2024

Some of the big names of the league upped their game and had standout seasons. Here's a look at them

Hemant Brar
Hemant Brar
27-May-2024
Virat Kohli continued his love affair with Dharamsala, Punjab Kings vs Royal Challengers Bengaluru, IPL 2024, Dharamsala, May 9, 2024

Virat Kohli struck faster in IPL 2024 than ever before  •  BCCI

As IPL 2024 comes to an end, here is a look at the players who have been around for five or more seasons but raised their game to another level this time.

Narine the batter

Not many would have expected Sunil Narine to return as an opener in an IPL season where bowlers were allowed two bouncers in an over. Even fewer would have expected him to succeed, let alone have his best season with the bat. Narine ended the tournament with 488 runs - the most for champions Kolkata Knight Riders - at an average of 34.85 and a strike rate of 180.74. Before 2024, Narine had four 50-plus scores in the IPL. He doubled that tally this season, including smashing his maiden T20 hundred. Add his bowling exploits to it - 17 wickets at an economy of 6.69 - and it's arguably the greatest season for any player in any league in the world.

Bumrah at his miserly best

In a season where the scoring rates went through the roof, Jasprit Bumrah was the standout bowler with an economy rate of 6.48. This was also Bumrah's best economy rate in an IPL season, bettering 6.63 in 2019. That year, the overall economy rate in the tournament was 8.27; this year it was 9.41, which makes Bumrah's performance even more remarkable. Bumrah was also the most economical bowler in the powerplay (6.00) and at the death (6.06) among those who bowled at least five overs in those phases. He went for less than six an over in seven out of the 13 games he played this season.

Kohli tames strike-rate demons

With the Impact Player rule giving teams an extra batter, the anchor has become an outdated concept in the IPL. That was also the reason Virat Kohli freed himself from the self-imposed restrictions and showed more intent this year. The result was his highest strike rate in an IPL season: 154.69 (previous best: 152.03 in 2016). What stood out was his approach in the powerplay and the use of the slog sweep against spinners. In the first six overs, he struck at 161.47. It was a significant jump from his previous best of 139.54 (in 2018) in that phase. His strike rate against spinners was 137.08, his best against them since 2017.

Abhishek's six appeal

Abhishek Sharma made his IPL debut in 2018, but this was the season where he made everyone sit up and take notice. Opening the innings for Sunrisers Hyderabad, he and Travis Head rewrote the template of T20 batting. Abhishek hit 42 sixes in the tournament - the most in IPL 2024 and the most for an Indian batter in a single edition of the IPL. He was equally brutal against pace and spin, which helped him become the first batter to score 400 runs in a T20 league without lasting 30 balls in any of the innings. All told, he scored 484 runs at an average of 32.26 and a strike rate of 204.21.

Samson's consistency

Over the years, a major criticism of Sanju Samson has been his lack of consistency. He would invariably start an IPL season with a bang but it would soon turn into a whimper. This time, taking that little bit extra time at the start of his innings helped him stay consistent and he crossed 500 runs in a season for the first time in his IPL career. His five 50-plus scores was also a personal best. In all, he amassed 531 runs at an average of 48.27 and a strike rate of 153.46, for which he was rewarded with a place in India's T20 World Cup squad.

Parag's breakout season

Riyan Parag finally repaid Rajasthan Royals for years and years of backing. After topping the runs chart in the latest Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, Parag finished IPL 2024 as the highest run-scorer for his team, and the third-highest overall. Before this season, Parag had 600 runs in 44 IPL innings, at an average of 16.21 and a strike rate of 123.96. In 14 innings this season, he almost doubled that tally, scoring 573 at 52.09 with a strike rate of 149.21. Along with Samson, he formed the engine room of RR's batting line-up and struck four half-centuries.

Karthik takes on spinners

Playing his last season at the age of 38, Dinesh Karthik did not stop improving. For the last five IPL seasons, he was one of the best hitters against pace in the death overs. This year, he unlocked his potential against spin, too. He smashed 63 off 38 balls against spinners without getting out even once. That gave him a strike rate of 165.78 - his highest ever against spin in an IPL season. His previous best was 160 in 2008, but since then he had never crossed 140. His overall tally of 326 runs this season, at a strike rate of 187.35, briefly put him in contention for India's T20 World Cup squad as well, but that was not to be.

Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo