The 13th edition of the Indian Premier League, played behind closed doors due to the pandemic, was one of the most closely contested tournaments where three of the final four teams were not known till the final two league matches. Rohit Sharma-led Mumbai Indians lifted a record fifth title as fans across the world sat glued to the TV sets and lapped up every bit of action from the UAE. Here’s a look at the supreme athletes whose performance in these extraordinary times made the evenings a little better:
KL Rahul: The Kings XI Punjab skipper piled 670 runs in 14 games at a strike rate of 129.34 to win the Orange Cup. Rahul’s best knock - 132 off 69 balls - against Royal Challengers Bangalore was the highest individual score of IPL 2020. The Karnataka batsman was in a league of his own in the UAE.
Devdutt Padikkal: The left-handed opener from Karnataka was an easy choice for the Emerging Player Award this time around. Padikkal, the highest run-getter for RCB in IPL 2020, scored 473 runs which included five half-centuries. The 19-year-old also holds the record for the most runs by an uncapped Indian in a debut season.
Shikhar Dhawan: The attacking opener, Gabbar, was Delhi’s standout performer and biggest match-winner of IPL 2020. Dhawan achieved a IPL first by hitting back-to-back hundreds and helped Delhi to their maiden final. The flamboyant left-hander scored a total of 618 runs with an impressive average of 44.14 and a strike rate of 144.73.
Suryakumar Yadav: He has been there for a while now… and continues to impress with each outing in the hic-hic version of the game. Surya, the Mr. Consistent at No.3 for Mumbai, struck 480 runs which included four half-centuries in this season of the IPL. Yadav got those runs at a strike-rate of 145.01.
Marcus Stoinis: The Australian all-rounder, under the leadership of Ricky Ponting, was instrumental in turning things around for Delhi. Stoinis piled 352 runs at a strike rate of 148.52 and also picked up 13 wickets at an average of 21.77. His hard-hitting ability, and clever bowling at the death were a major boost for DC this season.
Sam Curran: The England all-rounder was perhaps the only silver lining in an otherwise disaster campaign for CSK in IPL 2020. One of the best performers among foreign players, Sam played all the 14 matches for CSK scoring 186 runs at a strike rate of 131.91. The left-arm pacer also grabbed 13 wickets at an economy of just over 8 runs-an-over.
Rahul Tewatia: The unlikely hero of the run chase smashed Punjab’s Sheldon Cottrell for 30 runs in an over - 6, 6, 6, 6, 0, 6 - to help Rajasthan to a memorable triumph on September 27, 2020 at Sharjah. Tewatia became an instant hit with fans all over the world with his sublime strokeplay and a dependable spin attack. Ask Graeme Swann.
Varun Chakravarthy: The Rs 4 crore man grabbed 17 wickets from 13 matches for Kolkata while leaking under 7 runs an over. Varun remains the only bowler to take a 5-wicket haul in 2020 against Delhi Capitals. On the back of this season, he was selected for the Indian T20I squad for New Zealand. However, he had to later be ruled out due to a shoulder injury.
Kagiso Rabada: The Purple Cap holder of IPL 2020 along with fellow South African Anrich Nortje formed one of the most lethal bowling pairs and bowled with menacing pace throughout the season. Rabada, with his pace and accuracy, picked up 30 wickets in 17 matches for Delhi with a strike rate of 13.13.
Jasprit Bumrah: The Indian speedster, famous for his deadly yorkers, finished as the second-highest wicket-taker, with 27 wickets from 15 matches. Bumrah’s average of 14.96, even better than Rabada's, proved his effectiveness with the ball in IPL 2020.
T Natarajan: The left-handed pacer was particularly impressive with yorkers at the death for SRH this season. The man from Tamil Nadu found a place in the India squad for the T20Is against Australia after a brilliant outing in IPL 2020 where he bowled 71 yorkers, the most in the tournament.
Ishan Kishan (12th man): The keeper-batsman was Mumbai’s leading run-scorer in IPL 2020. Ishan scored 516 runs in just 14 games with a staggering average of 57.33. The Jharkhand batsman showed he has the ability to stay at the crease for long periods of time.