Gill force to Curran flop: IPL 2023 hits and misses
AHMEDABAD, India, May 29, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - The 16th edition of the Indian Premier League is set to conclude Monday with Chennai Super Kings chasing a record-equalling fifth title against defending champions Gujarat Titans.
The final was due to take place on Sunday but was postponed to the reserve day because of torrential rain and thunderstorms in Ahmedabad.
AFP Sport looks at the highs and lows of the 2023 season in the world's richest cricket tournament.
- Gill force -
From being slammed for his slow approach in T20 cricket, batsman Shubman Gill has transformed himself across multiple formats and in this IPL was the highest scorer with 851 runs -- and counting because he is set to play in the final.
The 23-year-old opener has smashed three centuries, and his match-winning 129 off 60 balls propelled Gujarat past Mumbai to reach the title decider.
India great Kapil Dev tentatively put him in the same bracket as the likes of Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli.
"But I will like to give him another season before making big claims. He definitely has the talent but (I) won't like to make big comparisons right now," Dev said.
- 'Baby Malinga' -
Sri Lanka's Matheesha Pathirana excelled during the tournament with 17 wickets for Chennai and his ability to bowl yorkers with a slinging action similar to his hero Lasith Malinga.
"Baby Malinga" joined Chennai last year as an injury replacement for Adam Milne and played just two matches.
But this season he was the go-to option in the death overs for Chennai captain M.S. Dhoni, who called the 20-year-old "special".
- Chase-master Rinku -
Kolkata Knight Riders batsman Rinku Singh became an overnight sensation with his match-winning five sixes off the final five balls in a scarcely believable chase against Gujarat.
His unbeaten 21-ball 48 was no flash in the pan as the left-handed batsman registered four half-centuries and mastered the art of finishing games.
But Kolkata failed to make the playoffs, despite Rinku's unbeaten 67 off 33 balls in their last match against Lucknow.
His red-hot displays raised talk of an India call-up.
- Curran flops -
England's World Cup-winning all-rounder Sam Curran seemed weighed down by the $2.23 million shelled out by Punjab Kings to make him the most expensive buy in IPL history.
Barring a few sparks with bat and ball, the left-handed Curran disappointed with 276 runs and 10 wickets to be the season's standout flop.
His underwhelming form did little to help Punjab, who finished eighth in the table and signalled another year without winning the IPL.
"You bought Sam Curran for ($2.23 million), what has he done?" former India opener Virender Sehwag said scathingly.
- Un-Shaw -
Once likened to Tendulkar, Delhi Capitals opener Prithvi Shaw was arguably the biggest flop amongst the Indian players with 106 runs in eight matches.
Shaw, who had a promising start to his India career with a Test ton on debut, looked at sea against quality seam bowling in this edition and midway through lost his place in the XI.
Coach Ricky Ponting admitted the 23-year-old did not live up to expectations -- much like Delhi themselves, who began with five losses and ended ninth in the table.
- Brook fails -
Another exciting England player in batsman Harry Brook also failed to impress, despite hitting the first century of this season.
Brook, snapped up by 2016 champions Sunrisers Hyderabad for $1.6 million, scored 90 runs from his 10 matches apart from his 100 not out against Kolkata.
Hyderabad dropped the 24-year-old for three matches but the rest of the cast did little to save them from taking the wooden spoon in the 10-team table.
Brook was accused of being arrogant after he talked of "shutting up" Indian trolls on social media following his hundred. They had the last laugh.