New Delhi, May 21 (IANS): The 2023 season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is now approaching its business end. It has been a tournament full of thrilling rides and some lop-sided games, where a lot of batters have shone through their strokeplay and panache, while there have been some bowlers who have outwitted them with their variations and speed.
IANS takes a look at the top consistent batters and bowlers of the competition so far:
Faf du Plessis
The Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper has turned over a new leaf in his T20 batting skills and is enjoying that through the purple patch in IPL 2023.
At present, du Plessis is the top-scoring batter in the IPL 2023 season by amassing 631 runs in 12 matches at an average of 57.36 and a strike-rate of 154.27, including seven half-centuries.
Apart from being high on scoring against pacers, what has also helped du Plessis is his improved hitting skills against spinners, showing that even at 38, he is ready to reinvent, evolve and add more skills to his armoury.
It has also meant that even if his opening partner Virat Kohli suffers a slowdown to spin, du Plessis can stand up and take the game forward for Bangalore by being the aggressor.
When he notched up his maiden IPL century against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Virat Kohli had congratulated him via an Instagram story and called him to lead the next generation of Indian batters in the sport. It was Kohli echoing the feelings of many on seeing Gill bat this year.
In the last five months, Gill has smashed six centuries -- five in international cricket, including a double-hundred in ODIs against New Zealand, apart from the IPL century. Three of those have come in Ahmedabad, like his maiden T20I ton and century against Australia in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
In making 576 runs in 13 innings at an average of 48 and a strike-rate of 146.19, Gill has been impressive in his languid stroke-play and ability to find gaps with ease, making batting look ridiculously easy.
The young left-handed opener has come of age in the ongoing season of the tournament. After being bought by Rajasthan Royals for INR 2.4 crore shortly after being Player of the Tournament in the 2020 U19 Men's Cricket World Cup, Jaiswal has repaid Rajasthan's faith in him with some scintillating batting displays in IPL 2023.
In 13 games, Jaiswal has scored 575 runs at an average of 47.92 and a strike-rate of 166.18, including a century and four fifties, which is just one run shy of second-placed Gill. He has impressed onlookers with his attacking and eye-catching pulls and drives, and being ready to get going from the word go to deliver consistent performances.
With his 62-ball 124 against the Mumbai Indians increasing calls for an India call-up, Jaiswal has been scoring runs at a faster pace this year, with his current season strike-rate making a huge improvement from 132.99 and 148.21 in 2022 and 2021 respectively.
In Gujarat being the first team to qualify for the playoffs in IPL 2023, Shami's contributions have been hugely impactful. Shining in his role as a power-play specialist, Shami has been vital in breaking the back of the opposition's run chase.
With his ability to consistently bowl a challenging line and length coupled with a hint of movement, Shami has picked up 15 wickets in power-play, averaging 15.86 at an economy rate of 6.80. His overall tally stands at 23 wickets, making him the leading wicket-taker in the competition through getting crucial scalps upfront.
It doesn't come as a surprise that Rashid has been a cut above the rest amongst all spinners in IPL 2023 by consistently delivering good performances for Gujarat. Though he has the same number of wickets as his team-mate Shami in the same number of games (23), Rashid is at second place due to metrics like average and economy rate being a little higher than the senior pacer's.
His most striking performance came in the match against Mumbai Indians at Wankhede Stadium. After clinching brilliant figures of 4/30, Rashid showed his prowess with the bat by smashing an unbeaten 79 off just 32 balls to keep the margin of loss as less as possible, saving Gujarat from a huge downfall in the net run rate.
The wily leg-spinner, who struggled to get game time while at Mumbai Indians in the initial few years of featuring in the IPL, has now become the highest wicket-taker in the history of the competition when he picked up a four-fer to run through Kolkata Knight Riders' batting order for Rajasthan Royals in the middle and death overs.
Relying on variations, varying the pace, attacking line-and-length while slipping in loopy, wide deliveries and quickish leg-breaks, Chahal is currently turning out to be the trump card for Rajasthan, picking up 21 wickets in 13 matches at an average of 18.66 and an economy rate of 8.02.