Kagiso Rabada – Delhi Capitals
Kagiso Rabada is often considered to be one of the best bowlers in test cricket. But his performances in this year’s IPL have shown that he is just as lethal in the shortest format of the game. The right arm pacer has a league-high 18 wickets to his name in just seven games, at an average of 13.38 runs per wicket. He also has an economy rate of 7.61, not bad at all for someone who bowls the majority of his overs either in the powerplay or at the death.
While most fast bowlers like to change their pace to keep batsmen guessing, Rabada has kept it simple in the IPL, using his raw pace, accuracy and skill to great effect. He has been the match-winner for Delhi Capitals on numerous occasions, and is one of the major reasons behind their incredible start to the season.
His performance in Delhi’s Super Over win over Kings XI Punjab set the tone up for his side perfectly, and gave them the momentum to go on an impressive run which saw them win five of their first six games. And if Rabada can continue his excellent form over the coming weeks, Delhi will fancy their chances of finally ending their trophy drought.
Rashid Khan – Sunrisers Hyderabad
Rashid Khan has lived up to his hype once again in this year’s IPL, proving to the world why he is one of the best spin bowlers around in T20 cricket. The leggy from Afghanistan has been almost unplayable at times, conceding just 5.34 runs per over in the first eight games. He has also taken ten wickets for the Sunrisers Hyderabad, with no spinner getting more so far in the competition.
His variations, accurate lengths and fast arm action make him a handful for even the world’s best batsmen. He is so good that opposition teams have now started to try and see out his overs, instead of taking him on. There was talk of dropping him early in the season, but without him in the side, the Sunrisers Hyderabad would have already been out of play-off contention.
Rahul Tewatia – Rajasthan Royals
Tewatia has been the biggest surprise of the tournament so far, rescuing Rajasthan from improbable situations twice with the bat in hand. His incredible 31-ball 53 inspired the Royals to pull off an improbable heist against the Kings XI Punjab, as they chased down 223. What makes that knock even more special is that at one point he was struggling at 8 runs in 19 balls. But then he struck five sixes past Sheldon Cottrell, and the rest is history.
Tewatia then showed his composure under pressure once again, as he hit an unbeaten 45 to take Rajasthan from the brink to defeat to victory over the Sunrisers. Tewatia also has five wickets to his name, including three key strikes in their opening game against Chennai.
It is not easy to stand out in a team which contains the likes of Steve Smith, Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler. But Tewatia’s performances have helped him go from an unknown entity to a household name in the space of a few weeks, and they have meant that the inaugural winners of the IPL still have a chance of making the play-offs.
Kieron Pollard – Mumbai Indians
Pollard’s performances so far in the IPL have gone slightly under the radar, but his impact on the Mumbai Indians’ results cannot be understated. The West Indies allrounder has played the role of the finisher to a great effect for his side, playing a number of crucial game changing knocks to lead his side to victory.
While Pollard only has one fifty to his name so far this season, he strikes the ball at a rate of 189, and has hit an impressive 13 sixes. His 13-ball 25 against the Sunrisers, his 47 off just 25 balls against Punjab, and his 25-ball 60 against the Royal Challengers are just three of his many important contributions to his team’s cause. And he has only been dismissed once in his six innings so far this season. Add his two wickets with the ball and his exceptional fielding to the mix, and Pollard has justified his side’s decision to stick with him despite poor performances in the early games of the campaign.
KL Rahul – Kings XI Punjab
While the same cannot be said about his captaincy, KL Rahul’s batting so far in the IPL has been exceptional and he leads the run scoring charts as of this writing. The Kings XI Punjab captain has scored 387 runs in just seven innings at a strike rate of 134.84, averaging 64.50, with three fifties and a hundred to his name. While some have been frustrated by his lack of intent in the early stages of his innings, Kings XI certainly would have been a lot worse off without his batting displays in the top order.
There are a number of other players who have made a big impact but just miss out in this list. Honorable mentions include Delhi Capitals’ Marcus Stoinis, Rajasthan Royals’ Jofra Archer, Mumbai Indians’ Suryakumar Yadav, and Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Washington Sundar.