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Natish Rana retook the lead in the race for the Indian Premier League’s Orange Cap on Thursday, as he struck 62 for the Mumbai Indians in a thrilling win over Kings XI Punjab.
A gem of an innings from Hashim Amla propelled Kings XI to an impressive score of 198 for four from their 20 overs, with the South African hammering an unbeaten 104 from just 60 balls. But Mumbai rallied in style, with Rana’s 62 and a quickfire 77 from Jos Buttler seeing them reach the target in just 15.3 overs.
It was not a good day for bowlers at the Holkar Cricket Stadium, meaning Bhuvneshwar Kumar remains comfortably in the lead in the top wicket-taking stakes.
Here are the updated top run-scorers and wicket-takers in the competition so far and closer look at a couple of men who caught the eye in a run-fest on Thursday.
|IPL 2017: Highest Run-Scorers—Orange Cap|
|IPL 2017: Top Wicket-Takers—Purple Cap|
Hashim Amla, Kings XI Punjab
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Although he’s never been the biggest hitter or the most dynamic batsman, Amla showed beyond question that he’s a player capable of making waves in the Indian Premier League with his maiden 100 in the competition.
The shots he played were traditional ones in the main, although as the innings rolled on, the South African started to free up his shoulders, slapping the ball over the boundary rope for six maximums.
Crucially, during his 60 balls at the crease, Amla was also able to score regularly off the dangerous Lasith Malinga. As noted by cricket journalist Freddie Wilde, it wasn’t something his team-mates found so easy:
Freddie Wilde @fwildecricket
Amla scored 51 off 16 balls bowled by Malinga (RR 19.12). The rest of KXIP scored five off Malinga’s eight other deliveries (RR: 3.75). #IPL
4/20/2017, 4:25:02 PM
When he does get going, Amla is wonderful to watch in any format. Here, the trademark poise was so prevalent in his play, as the opener was ruthless in punishing any bad deliveries tossed down by the Indians bowlers.
He’s a player who allows others freedom, too. Although he scored freely here, you sensed that with Amla at the crease, the shackles were off when other batsmen came out, Glenn Maxwell in particular, who bludgeoned his way to 40 from 18 balls.
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These figures from Bharath Seervi of ESPNCricinfo sum up just how versatile the 34-year-old is:
Bharath Seervi @SeerviBharath
Batsmen with triple-century in Tests and century in T20s:
4/20/2017, 4:17:10 PM
Really, it was an innings that should have seen his team on the winning side, as 198 is so difficult to chase in this format. However, Kings XI were on the receiving end of some special knocks from the Mumbai top order.
Parthiv Patel got the Indians’ response off to a stunning start as he blasted 37 from 18, while Buttler showcased his dangerous blend of ingenuity and power with a fine 77 from 37 balls. But it was Rana who was there at the end to see his side home.
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His innings of 62 not out may not have been scored under the greatest duress given the exceptional platform provided by the openers. But it was another half-century knock for Rana, his third of the tournament so far.
Indeed, at just 23, there weren’t huge expectations for him in this IPL. But, as noted by cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle, he’s showcased some incredible power:
Harsha Bhogle @bhogleharsha
Nitish Rana hit 7 sixes and no fours. Can’t remember the last time I saw that!
4/20/2017, 5:42:49 PM
That power, composure and inventiveness at the crease has helped Mumbai move to the top of the table as things stand, and Rana is quickly looking like one of the most dangerous players in the IPL.
The left-hander is a little bit of an unknown for opposition sides, making him very difficult to bowl to. When he does get going, as we’ve seen already in this IPL, he possesses the potential to take the game away from teams, too.
The challenge for the current top run-scorer will be to maintain consistency, and as the weeks tick by, teams will start to develop specific strategies for limiting the Indians ace. However, when you’re a six-hitting machine like Rana, so often the best-laid plans can quickly go to waste.