IPL: Team of the Week, Featuring Mohit Sharma, Brendon McCullum and Aaron Finch
Another exciting week came to an end on Sunday in the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), featuring 10 matches.
During this week, two teams were bowled out in double digits, including the third-lowest total in the tournament's history. On the other end of the spectrum, the score of 170 was crossed four times in the week.
While there were no centuries recorded, eight batsmen scored nine half-centuries between them, while as many as four bowlers took four wickets in a match.
The week also saw some spectacular catches being taken on the field, including one that was called the best in the tournament's history by some. There were also a few horrendous drops to counter them.
So, without much ado, here is the IPL team of the week, featuring as many as four players from the Chennai Super Kings, who won all four of their matches this week. Needless to say, the hapless Mumbai Indians, still searching for their first win of the season, did not have any representation in the team.
1. Aaron Finch: Sunrisers Hyderabad
After a quiet first week in which he scored just 21 runs in two matches, Sunrisers Hyderabad opening batsman Aaron Finch was in scintillating form in Week 2.
Against Delhi Daredevils on April 25 in Dubai, the Australian smashed an unbeaten 88 off 53 balls, including eight boundaries and four sixes, which helped his team to an imposing total of 184.
While Hyderabad just about managed to defend that total, Finch's 44 off 45 balls against Chennai Super Kings a couple of days later came in a losing cause.
With Shikhar Dhawan and David Warner in erratic form, Finch has established himself as the linchpin of Hyderabad's batting.
2. Brendon McCullum: Chennai Super Kings
Brendon McCullum might as well adopt Indian citizenship. The 32-year-old proved that he hasn't aged one bit since he smashed the IPL alive in the tournament's inaugural match six years ago with an unbeaten 158.
McCullum continued his love affair with the tournament by following up his 45-ball 67 last week in Chennai Super Kings's opening match of the season, with an unbeaten 53-ball 71 against Mumbai Indians and 40 off 33 balls against Sunrisers Hyderabad, both in winning causes.
McCullum has already erased memories of Michael Hussey, who is playing for Mumbai Indians now. He is well on course for being one of the leading run-scorers of the season.
3. Dwayne Smith: Chennai Super Kings
When you've got Brendon McCullum in your team, his partner-in-crime Dwayne Smith cannot be left far behind. The duo already have a century partnership and two 50-plus partnerships to their name.
In five matches for Chennai so far, Smith's lowest score is 29. He has been their most consistent batsman and is the second-highest run-scorer this season (240 runs), behind Glenn Maxwell (294 runs). This includes three half-centuries, two of which were scored in the week that ended April 27.
What makes Smith even more dangerous for the opposition is his strike rate of 143.71, which is the second-highest for a batsman who has played five matches this season.
Smith is only 54 runs behind Maxwell in the race for the Orange Cap, and the way he is going, it promises to be an exciting race.
4. Glenn Maxwell: Kings XI Punjab
There isn't much that Glenn Maxwell can do wrong this season. He did throw his wicket away cheaply against Kolkata Knight Riders on Saturday, going for an unnecessary shot, but he can be excused given the way he has performed in the tournament so far.
Maxwell scored his second 95 of the tournament on Tuesday against the Sunrisers Hyderabad. His previous scores read 89 and 95. His 294 runs in four matches so far have come at a jaw-dropping strike rate of 205.59 and unless he throws his wicket away like he did on Saturday, it's quite a task getting him out.
The Kings XI Punjab's million-dollar purchase has been the star of the tournament so far with his unorthodox batting and is a clear front-runner for the Orange Cap. Punjab could go a long way in achieving their target of winning their first IPL title should Maxwell continue with his stellar form.
5. Murali Vijay: Delhi Daredevils
This week's team has been loaded with opening batsmen, thus Delhi Daredevils opener Murali Vijay has been moved down the order.
Vijay has been one of the silent performers of the week. While the likes of Kevin Pietersen and JP Duminy hogged the limelight, Vijay inconspicuously scored 52 and 40 against Sunrisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians, respectively.
After a slow start, the Daredevils are slowly making strides in the tournament and could use Vijay's solidity at the top of the order.
6. Chris Lynn: Kolkata Knight Riders
Kolkata Knight Riders' Australian recruit Chris Lynn deserves a place in this team for this catch alone. Not only has it been declared the catch of the season, it has also found its way into debates of the best catch ever taken in the history of the game.
Lynn almost single-handedly won Kolkata a thriller against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Thursday, scoring 45 off 31 balls and taking that stunning catch.
KKR coach has already come out and said, as reported by ESPN Cricinfo, that he wasn't surprised by Lynn's heroics, given the great Big Bash League and Sheffield Shield he had last season.
KKR will be hoping Lynn's heroics weren't a one-off, and he goes on to help them win a second title.
7. Ravindra Jadeja: Chennai Super Kings
Chennai Super Kings all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja pretty much makes this team for one performance in the week, against the Rajasthan Royals.
After being put in to bat, Chennai were struggling at the end of the 15th over with their score at 101 for six. This was when Jadeja, who had come in at No. 6, decided to take control of the situation and played a mature knock of 36 off 33 balls to take CSK to a respectable 140.
Jadeja wasn't done for the match as he spun his magic with the ball, taking four for 33 as Rajasthan were bowled out for 133.
The Indian also had a two for 18 to his name against the Delhi Daredevils, also in a winning cause.
8. Jaydev Unadkat: Delhi Daredevils
Delhi Daredevils' left-arm pacer Jaydev Unadkat continued with his consistent form of the last 12 months by snapping up three for 32 against Chennai Super Kings and 2 for 29 against Mumbai Indians this week.
Unadkat is proving to be a vital resource for Delhi skipper Kevin Pietersen. If he can go on to reproduce last season's performance, where he was Royal Challengers Bangalore's second-highest wicket-taker, it could go on to help Delhi leaps and bounds in their title chase.
9. Mohit Sharma: Chennai Super Kings
What a week Mohit Sharma has had! The Chennai Super Kings fast bowler is easily the performer of the week, taking eight wickets in four matches, including a four-for against Mumbai Indians. Sharma's tally of eight wickets puts him just one scalp behind the season's leading wicket-taker, Sunil Narine.
Sharma's consistent performance for Chennai in the 2013 IPL won him an India cap last year, and the way things are going, expect to see him some more in India colours. His line and length has been near-perfect, and he bowls a superb slower one that deceives most good batsmen.
Sharma has managed to push himself above a team that is riddled with superstars. Along with fellow quicks Ishwar Pandey and Ben Hilfenhaus, Sharma has all but transformed Chennai's reputation of being a team that relies on spin.
10. Lakshmipathy Balaji (Kings XI Punjab)
At 32 years of age, Lakshmipathy Balaji is one of the tournament's most senior players and his performance of four for 13 against Sunrisers Hydrabad on Tuesday was a schooling to young bowlers.
Balaji has seven wickets to his name this season in four games played and has usurped even the likes of teammate Mitchell Johnson.
11. Pravin Tambe: Rajasthan Royals
After three rather barren outings, Rajasthan Royals' 42-year-old leg-spinner Pravin Tambe suddenly sprung to life against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Friday.
Continuing with his breakout performance for the Royals last season, Tambe recorded four for 20 in the match as he helped his team bowl a star-studded RCB out for just 70 runs.
His exploits over the last 12 months earned the ageless wonder a spot in the Mumbai squad for the Ranji Trophy for the first time last season, and if he can continue to do well for the Royals, it would bode well for him on both fronts.