The 2014 edition of the Indian Premier League may have kicked off in a different location than usual, but the normal service of big-hitting drama has remained, with some of the world’s best batsmen giving their all in the Middle East.
While a century still eludes the IPL’s elite batsmen, there have been some remarkable knocks over the first two weeks of tournament action, all adding to the excitement of Twenty20 action.
With the IPL now returning home to India, we take a look at the best batsmen in the United Arab Emirates looking to continue their strong form as the cricket drama heats up.
Following Sunrisers Hyderabad’s victory over Mumbai Indians on Wednesday, here is the current list of leading IPL run scorers:
|IPL 2014: Leading Run Scorers|
|Glenn Maxwell||Kings XI Punjab||5||300||95|
|Dwayne Smith||Chennai Super Kings||5||240||66|
|Brendon McCullum||Chennai Super Kings||5||193||71 (NOT OUT)|
|Ajinkya Rahane||Rajasthan Royals||5||182||72|
|JP Duminy||Delhi Daredevils||5||173||67 (NOT OUT)|
With Glenn Maxwell top of the charts and in the form of his life, it’s unsurprising that Kings XI Punjab are the early pace-setters in the IPL, winning five matches out of five.
The Australian has contributed some big totals over Punjab’s opening matches, including two 95s and an 89, striking fear into bowlers—and indeed spectators—across the league.
Per ESPN cricinfo, Maxwell has hit a league-high 17 sixes and 30 fours in the Punjab shirt this term, making him the hottest property in the IPL.
Following close behind him are Chennai Super Kings duo Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum, who have opened up to great effect over the past two weeks. The pair have chalked up 433 runs between them across Chennai’s first five matches, according to ESPN cricinfo, being instrumental in the franchise’s four victories so far.
Smith and McCullum have contributed to four of the eight highest opening stands in the 2014 IPL, as Opta Jim revealed:
Their combined 123 against Kings XI Punjab has set the pace, and if they continue to play with such fluency together, then Chennai will be sure things for the top four come the end of the campaign.
Highest Batting Averages
While a big innings will steal the headlines, consistent batting over the course of a season sees players become heroes and guide their sides to success. Here’s who’s leading the way in the average charts:
|IPL 2014: Top Averages|
|JP Duminy||Delhi Daredevils||5||173||3||86.50|
|Steve Smith||Rajasthan Royals||3||65||2||65.00|
|Glenn Maxwell||Kings XI Punjab||5||300||0||60.00|
|Shakib Al Hasan||Kolkata Knight Riders||3||60||2||60.00|
|Suryakumar Yadav||Kolkata Knight Riders||5||110||3||55.00|
JP Duminy’s average of 86.50 sees him top the table, with three not out innings and a total of 173 runs across his five appearances.
The Delhi Daredevils star was in at fifth in the order at the start of the season, but his impressive displays have seen him move up to third, where the good performances have continued.
The South African has enjoyed his fruitful spell with the bat in the Middle East, and recently said that it’s his hard work in training that has warranted his good form—via K.R. Nayar of GulfNews.com:
“It was not about easy hitting and it is just enjoying some good form at the moment and hitting the ball nicely. I guess it’s the old cliche of putting in the hard work and it is coming off.”
Delhi haven’t enjoyed the best of starts in the IPL (winning two of their five matches), but if they can keep the form of Duminy up and raise the game of star man Kevin Pietersen, then they will undoubtedly make a big impact in India.
With the century milestone still yet to be breached, here’s a look at who has come closest to the magic total over the first two weeks of action:
|IPL 2014: Best Innings|
|Glenn Maxwell||KINGS XI PUNJAB vs. Chennai Super Kings||95|
|Glenn Maxwell||KINGS XI PUNJAB vs. Sunrisers Hyderabad||95|
|Glenn Maxwell||KINGS XI PUNJAB vs. Rajasthan Royals||89|
|Aaron Finch||SUNRISERS HYDERABAD vs. Delhi Daredevils||88 (NOT OUT)|
|Kieron Pollard||MUMBAI INDIANS vs. Sunrisers Hyderabad||78|
Maxwell’s 279 runs in four days unsurprisingly sit top of the list, but Aaron Finch’s superb knock for Sunrisers Hyderabad against Delhi Daredevils also teased the century mark.
The opener batted superbly in said innings, needing just 53 balls to arrive at his unbeaten 88 total complete with eight fours and four sixes—per Indian Premier League.
The Delhi bowlers never looked like troubling Finch during the match, and with just one more over he’d have surely reached his 100.
Kieron Pollard’s 78 also snuck into the top five, but it was a rare highlight for Mumbai Indians, who have struggled immensely with the bat so far.
The defending champions’ highest total thus far is their Pollard-inspired 157 against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Wednesday, with the order struggling to make its mark on all surfaces.
With five losses out of five, MI head home craving a reverse in fortunes to repeat their exploits of last year. They’ll need more Pollard-esque knocks if they’re to do just that.
Though the Indian Premier League is just five matches in, it’s been one of the most exciting tournaments to date. There are 39 matches remaining before the new IPL kings are crowned, which means there are still thousands upon thousands of runs for us to sink our teeth into.