The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 finally got underway on September 19. While it has only been a week since the tournament started, we have already seen some blistering knocks, some fine bowling performances, a Super-Over finish and a fair share of controversies.
We have already witnessed some outstanding batting from the likes of KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Sanju Samson, Devdutt Padikkal, Shubman Gill and few more, while Mohammed Shami, Yuzvendra Chahal, and few others have been impressive with ball in hand.
Here, we look at the top five talking points from the first week of the 13th edition of the lucrative T20 league:
An umpiring error, and Rabada's Super Over
We got to witness a Super-Over finish in only the second match of the season, but things wouldn't have gone that far if not for an umpiring error. Chasing 158, Kings XI Punjab needed 25 off 12 deliveries with Agarwal and Chris Jordan at the crease.
The incident happened on the third delivery of the penultimate over when Agarwal sliced Kagiso Rabada's low full-toss towards the extra cover region and completed two runs. However, the square-leg umpire Nitin Menon deemed it as a single, on the basis that the first run being a short one. The replays showed otherwise and indicated that Jordan did put his bat inside the line while turning for the second run. The match eventually went down to the final over in which Punjab failed to score one run off three deliveries and the game ended in a tie.
That's when Rabada came to the party and knocked over Delhi in the space of three deliveries. Remember him uprooting Andre Russell's middle stump in the Super Over against Kolkata Knight Riders last season? Well, he did something similar against Punjab. The South African paceman had Rahul caught at deep square leg off the second ball and then knocked over Nicholas Pooran off the next delivery. Rabada finished the contest in three balls, and Delhi scored the required three runs in just two deliveries.
Young guns are here to stay
The 20-year-old opener, Padikkal announced his arrival on the big stage in a grand fashion, smashing a 42-ball 56 against Sunrisers Hyderabad. The left-hander added 90 runs with Aaron Finch for the opening wicket and became the fifth RCB batsman to score a fifty on debut. Padikkal played a huge role in helping Bangalore score 163/5 in their 20 overs, which they later defended, courtesy Hyderabad collapsing from 121 for 2 to 153 all-out.
Padikkal is no stranger to scoring big as he finished as Karnataka’s leading run-getter in all three formats last season. In fact in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, Padikkal was the leading run-scorer in the tournament to help Karnataka win the 50-over and the 20-over formats.
Meanwhile, Gill didn't have a great start to the season but the young opener was at his very best against Hyderabad in Kolkata's second game of the edition. There's a reason why the KKR team management has delegated some “leadership responsibility” to him, as the 21-year-old is level-headed and much more mature than players of his age. Chasing a dicey target of 143, Gill displayed all those qualities and crafted a steady 62-ball 70 to propel Kolkata to a seven-wicket win.
Ravi Bishnoi too has done well in the two games he has played for Punjab. The legspinner has so far picked up four wickets at 13.50.
Sanju Samson special
Rajasthan Royals were without Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes in their first match of the season and they were up against the three-time IPL champions Chennai Super Kings, who had defeated Mumbai Indians in the tournament opener. Going into the match, the MS Dhoni-led side were touted as the clear favourites, but Sanju Samson had different ideas. The wicketkeeper-batsman brutalised Chennai by smoking nine sixes in his 32-ball 74.
The right-hander dismantled Ravindra Jadeja and Piyush Chawla, slamming them for seven maximums, and completed his fifty off just 19 deliveries - the joint second-fastest for Rajasthan in the history of IPL. Rajasthan went on to amass 216/7 in their 20 overs and managed to win the encounter by 16 runs.
Dhoni and Co. criticised for their "lack of intent"
MS Dhoni and his team were severely criticised for their "lack of intent" in Chennai's big chase against Rajasthan. Former cricketers and fans were baffled by Dhoni's approach and batting position as Chennai failed to chase Rajasthan's 217-run target. The likes of Murali Vijay, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Kedar Jadhav struggled against the Rajasthan bowlers as the required run-rate kept soaring high. Dhoni finally came in to bat at No. 7 in the 14th over when Chennai needed 102 off 36 deliveries.
The wicketkeeper-batsman displayed no intent whatsoever and scored just 10 runs off his first 13 deliveries. He then did clobber three consecutive sixes in the final over to finish with a strike rate of 170.59 but by then the game was already over. Gautam Gambhir blasted Dhoni for not "leading from the front" and said that whatever sixes he hit at the end were “personal runs”. The only good thing to come out of this match was Dhoni finally got some "match practice" and it would surely help him in the coming games, in which we would love to see him bat up the order.
However, they went with a similar approach against Delhi and the move backfired once again as they lost the game by 44 runs.
KL Rahul "leads from the front"
KL Rahul didn't contribute much against Delhi but the Kings XI Punjab skipper made up for it by hammering a superb century against Bangalore on Friday. The wicketkeeper-batsman whacked 14 fours and seven maximums in his unbeaten 69-ball 132. This was his second IPL hundred, as Punjab thumped Bangalore by 97 runs.
Rahul has been in extraordinary form in the IPL since 2018. The stylish right-hander has amassed 1405 runs in 30 innings at an average of almost 60 and a strike rate close to 150. No other batsman has scored more runs than him in this time frame, and Rahul will have to keep on scoring if Punjab want to make it to the playoffs.