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AB de Villiers was by far the standout performer in IPL 2018

AB de Villiers is batsman and Spiderman, an artist and a creative genius who manufactures shots others would think are impossible and all of that was visible during the 2018 Indian Premier League (IPL 2018)

cricket Updated: May 24, 2018 11:23 IST
Amrit Mathur
Amrit Mathur
Hindustan Times
IPL 2018,Indian Premier League,AB de Villiers
Royal Challengers Bangalore player AB de Villiers in action during the 2018 Indian Premier League (IPL 2018). The former South Africa cricket team skipper announced his retirement from international cricket on Wednesday.(Hindustan Times)

Indian Premier League (IPL) attracts cricket’s top talent and provides it a platform to display its skill. This season was special with fearless batsmen executing astonishing shots and bowlers using the knuckle ball to great effect. Who in this ‘best versus the best’ carnival stood out, which players would you pay money to watch? Take a look.

AB de Villiers: By far the standout performer, and great to watch. He is elegant and effortless and as the cliche goes, bats with time to spare -- always in position, never hurried, never loses shape.

De Villiers is batsman and Spiderman, an artist and a creative genius who manufactures shots others would think are impossible. Depending on his mood, fast bowlers (140kph plus) are swept or reverse swept, crashed through cover or slogged over mid wicket. A 360-degree stroke player, ABD has so many shots to offer it must be a problem deciding which one to play.

‘PROPER CRICKET SHOTS’

Kane Williamson: If ABD is delightfully unpredictable, Williamson is the opposite. He plays what Sunil Gavaskar calls ‘proper cricketing shots’. Nothing funky or cute, no reverse sweeps or switch hits. Williamson made quality runs with Test match shots executed in fast-forward mode.

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Not someone who muscles the ball like Gayle/Pollard/Russell, he was a Mercedes cruising down an expressway. Before this IPL, Williamson was not an automatic choice in the Sunrisers starting eleven. This reality is reflected in his meagre Rs 3 crore contract, the same as U-19 player Khaleel (who hasn’t played a game) and less than teammates Manish Pandey (Rs 11 crore) and Deepak Hooda (Rs 3.6 crore).

Rishabh Pant: The new rocket that had a spectacular launch, Pant’s numbers are staggering -- 684 runs, a strike rate of almost 180 and more 4s/6s than anyone else. In 14 matches, he hit every third ball to the boundary and thrashed Bhuvneshwar Kumar, India’s T20 bowling star, for 43 from 11 balls.

‘PRESENCE AND POWER’

KL Rahul: Without doubt the best Indian batsman across formats after Virat. KL, like his captain, has presence and power, and bowlers have learnt to respect his skills. He is the complete package -- a technically correct batsman who plays with intent. KL is crisp and decisive -- he outscored opening partner Chris Gayle.

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Rashid Khan: Leggies are in fashion but the Afghan is in a different zone, tossing up dot balls and asking awkward questions. While other bowlers get smashed, Rashid commands respect by keeping batsmen guessing. He is a match-winning rock star.

MS Dhoni: In a format that defies routine, MSD keeps doing what he does best: controlling the game and launching last-minute surgical strikes to finish matches. Nobody owns a cricket ground like he does; his aura is unmatched and while everyone goes ballistic in a tense situation, MSD goes about his business as only he can -- emotionless as the Sphinx.

(Amrit Mathur is a senior cricket writer and has been involved with IPL in official capacity)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by author in this article are personal.

First Published: May 24, 2018 11:13 IST