We saw many Indian players at the top of their form in the 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League. While some of them were familiar faces, there were a couple of players who surprised us with their performances too. Deservedly, most of them were picked in the Indian white-ball squad to tour Australia as well. Here we’ll take a glance at those players and how their addition is going to help India down under.
KL Rahul: The Indian wicketkeeper-batsman, who led Kings XI Punjab in this IPL season, finished as the highest run-getter in the tournament with 670 runs to his name at an average of 55.83. Rahul redefined consistency during the season as he kept getting KXIP off to steady starts time and again. He was one of the four batsmen to score a century in this edition and scored five fifties on top of that as well.
In Rohit Sharma’s absence, Rahul will be expected to open the innings for India alongside Shikhar Dhawan, in both T20Is and ODIs. The best part about Rahul is that he can play any role and is brilliant with the shifting of gears. A T20I average of 45.65 and an ODI average of 47.65 after 42 and 32 matches in the formats respectively shows how good he has been for India, and he will be looking to keep his good performances going in this series as well.
Mayank Agarwal: This has been a breakout season for Mayank Agarwal as far as IPL cricket is considered. The Karnataka batsman amassed a total of 424 runs during the season, at an excellent average and strike-rate of 38.54 and 156.45 respectively. That includes one century and two fifties as well.
He has been playing in the IPL since its inaugural edition but his tally of 424 runs is the highest he has scored in a single season of the tournament. Mayank had already toured Australia in 2018-19 as a part of the Test team and now he will be eager to make his mark on the limited-overs formats as well. While Dhawan and Rahul will be the preferred openers, we might still see him getting at least a couple of chances in either of the T20I or ODI series. When he gets that, he will be eager to put his best foot forward.
Jasprit Bumrah: The ace Indian pacer was brilliant in this IPL season once again. Bumrah picked up a total of 27 wickets at an average of 14.96 and thus finished as the second-highest wicket-taker of this edition. Only Kagiso Rabada (30) picked up more wickets than Bumrah, but the South African played two more matches than the Indian speedster.
Bumrah is a part of the Indian squad for all three formats for their tour of Australia and he will be the leader of their pace attack as well. As far as white-ball cricket in Australia is concerned, he has an excellent record as well. The 26-year-old can pick up wickets both with the new and old ball, across all phases of the innings, and that’s why he is going to be India’s main strike-weapon during the tour.
Shikhar Dhawan: A lot of questions had been raised on the left-handed batsman’s credentials as a T20 batsman in recent times. But Dhawan silenced all his critics in this IPL season as he not only went on to amass over 600 runs but scored back-to-back centuries as well.
His runs not only came at an excellent average of 44.14 but he also scored them at an outstanding overall strike-rate of 144.73 — his highest across all seasons. With this kind of performance, he has cemented his place as India’s first-choice opener in bothT20I and ODI formats. Like Rahul, Dhawan has shown an excellent ability to shift gears in all of his recent innings and that’s why his combination with Rahul at the top of the order could go on to give excellent results to India in this series.
T Natarajan: The left-arm pacer impressed everyone with his ability to bowl yorkers consistently in this IPL season. No other bowler bowled more Yorkers than Natarajan in this tournament. The quality and accuracy of his Yorkers were on show on multiple occasions during the competition as he dismissed even dangerous batsmen like AB de Villiers.
Natarajan was a vital cog of Sunrisers Hyderabad’s death bowling unit and claimed a total of 16 wickets in the season at a strike-rate of 23.56. With no other left-arm seamer performing at his level in IPL 2020, his inclusion in India’s T20I squad didn’t come as a surprise. Now he has given India a much-needed X-factor in bowling. His left-arm seam bowling not only adds a different dimension to their bowling attack but also gives ample support to Bumrah in the death overs. That’s why his pairing with Bumrah is going to be fascinating to watch down under.
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