IPL talking points: English batters firmly into their stride

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IPL talking points: English batters firmly into their stride

After the first few days of this IPL season you would be forgiven for wondering if there were any English players at all in India. No one is thinking such thoughts now.

English batters are firmly into their stride and making up for lost time – 11 hundreds have been smashed this year and four of them were by Englishmen.

Will Jacks’ stunning 41 ball ton against Punjab even had the great Virat Kohli in shock and he has now truly announced himself on the world stage. His agent will be happy: expect him to go for a huge deal in the next auction!

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Virat Kohli watched on from the other end in amazement as England’s Will Jacks hit a 41-ball century for Royal Challengers Bengaluru against Gujarat Titans in the IPL

That came just after Jonny Bairstow did what Jonny Bairstow does – he batted with a massive chip on his shoulder having been dropped from the team and counted out.

The ‘Jonny eyes’ were on full display as he went about his business in a silent, trance like state until he’d helped the Kings gun down Kolkata’s 261 – the highest chase in T20 history. I’ll admit I was one of those starting to slightly doubt the man, but I should’ve known better!

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Jonny Bairstow smashed nine sixes en route to a century for Punjab Kings in their record T20 run chase against Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL

Jonny will be on the plane to the Caribbean for the T20 World Cup and the question now for England is where to bat him in the lineup. He loves opening and that’s where Kings use him but England effectively have four openers with Jos Buttler, Will Jacks, Phil Salt and Bairstow.

He started his T20 career as a middle order hitter though and as he showed in that match winning hundred against KKR he hasn’t lost any of his immense power. I would bat him at four with Buttler and Salt opening and Jacks at three. Suddenly England’s batting lineup is looking genuinely scary again.

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England T20 hopeful Phil Salt’s showed what he can do against Delhi Capitals as he smashed five sixes in an emphatic IPL win for Kolkata Knight Riders

India’s extraordinary batting depth, while Bumrah remains elite

India’s batting has a similar fear factor, if maybe not quite as powerful. The depth is quite extraordinary – imagine being able to leave out Shubman Gill and KL Rahul?!

In truth, they probably suffered due to the fact that Rohit and Kohli were always going to get picked and that meant India had to pick more aggressive batters around them. The run scoring at this tournament has been unprecedented and it will be fascinating to see if it has changed the game decisively – is this going to be the norm in all T20 going forward?

Mumbai Indians' Jasprit Bumrah gestures during the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match between Lucknow Super Giants and Mumbai Indians at the Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow on April 30, 2024. (Photo by Arun SANKAR / AFP) / -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE --

Image: Mumbai Indians’ Jasprit Bumrah gestures during the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match between Lucknow Super Giants and Mumbai Indians at the Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow

One thing that won’t change is Jasprit Bumrah being ridiculously good. Amid a sea of carnage he has shone bright like a sturdy lighthouse.

He is joint top wicket-taker but if you want to see the true value of an elite bowler like Bumrah, look at the economy rate. His is a miserly 6.4. Of the top nine wicket-takers only one other (Matheesha Pathirana) has an economy rate under nine. If I was picking a T20 World XI, he would be number one on the team sheet.

The business end of the group stage: Rajasthan comfortable, champions Chennai need to show their mettle

So how is the table shaping up as we head towards the business end of the group stage? In a word, congested.

Rajasthan have shown the value in having a gun bowling attack and will undoubtedly finish in the Top 2 to be in the First Qualifier. After that it is a bun fight. There are only four points between second and eighth.

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Rovman Powell needed two runs off the final ball to win the game for the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, but was caught leg before wicket by Sunrisers Hyderabad’s Bhuvneshwar Kumar in dramatic fashion

The Sunrisers just pulled off a remarkable last ball win over the table topping Royals to get back on track after losing two on the bounce but Chennai’s slump is worrying. They’ve lost three out of their last four now and the bowling has looked impotent in each of those losses.

They haven’t been helped by having to bat first and bowl in conditions where the dew makes it very difficult but this is usually the time they surge, not stutter. The champions need to show their mettle over the next few days!

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