IPL 2011: Chris Gayle, Yusuf Pathan Among the Top 5 Players from the Group Stage
This year the IPL group stages saw two new teams introduced to the competition, Kochi Tuskers and Pune Warriors, bringing the total teams involved to 10. The number of players involved in the competition increased and so did the level of performances in most cases.
With the group stages now over, we know for sure that the top four teams are Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata.
But who are the top players from the group stages?
Let's have a look at my top 5.
Using his toe-crushing yorkers and lethal bouncers, he produced many a breakthrough and led to many top-order collapses. He even managed the rare feat of bowling a maiden over to Virender Sehwag—now there aren't too many bowlers out there who achieved that feat in test matches, let alone a T-20.
Sri Lankas loss has truly been IPL's gain.
Little-known Paul Valthaty was a revelation in IPL 2011, scoring a mammoth 463 runs he proved he wasn't just a flash in the pan. Not content having proven his worth with the bat, he even chipped in with seven wickets when given the ball.
His best performance was a score of 120 against Chennai, which was the highest individual score in this years edition of the IPL.
It's safe to say Valthaty proved to be one of the best buys at the player auction by providing Punjab great value for money.
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Scoring over 250 runs at a strike rate of nearly 150 he played many valuable innings, and claiming 13 wickets with an economy rate of under six runs per over he proved his all-around skills.
Yusuf will need to play a key role for Kolkata if they are to win their first IPL title after making it to the semifinal stage for the first time in four years.
For all those who say IPL serves no purpose to Indian cricket, they just need to cast a look in the direction of a certain Rahul Sharma.
Rahul was for a long time the only positive for Pune Warriors during their run of six consecutive losses in the group stage. Claiming 16 wickets with a more than respectful economy rate of 5.46 runs per over, he proved to be a bowler who could tie the best of batsman down and yet keep attacking them and claiming their wickets.
He is definitely one for the future, and I hope to see him in Indian colours sometime soon.
Chris Gayle: Biggest hitter of them all
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This list couldn't possibly have been complete without Chris Gayle. He came into the Banglore squad when the team was down, and not performing as was expected of them.
The fact that he has ended up with the Orange cap after the group stages even though he only played nine matches was simply outstanding.
It's not the fact that he scored over 500 runs in these matches, it's the sheer brutality in which he scores them and completely demoralises the opposition bowlers that separates him from the chasing pack of batsman.
I don't think he has ever been in such rich vein of form and from the outside it looks like he is enjoying playing in the Bangalore setup more than he has enjoyed playing for the West Indies.
Chris Gayle, for me, has been the best player during the group stages of the tournament by far.