The Indian Premier League has once again entertained T20 cricket lovers around
the world with a feast of runs, excitement and drama.
Despite other T20 competitions over-lapping the Indian version, it is still regarded as the premier competition in this format. The 2014 season has delivered on all fronts and has once again highlighted stars of the future but has also embraced those more established stars of the game.
Who will easily forget the three centuries of the tournament, a typically bullish 122 from Indian legend Virender Sehwag, a match-winning 100 from Lendl Simmons and the fastest century in the tournament off just 49 balls by Wriddhiman Saha in the final itself?
Whilst batsmen are generally acclaimed for their performances in T20 there have also been some impressive bowling displays.
Below I have highlighted some of the batting and bowling stars of this year's competition.
Top three batsmen
Robin Uthappa (Kolkata Knight Riders)
Awarded the Orange cap for the most runs in the competition. Despite failure in the final itself, Uthappa was a model of consistency as he scored five half-centuries in the tournament, scoring 660 runs in the process with a highest score of 83.
He also had a strike rate of over 137 runs from 100 balls, with an average of 44. Uthappa's form was one of the main reasons for the Knight Riders capturing the title for the second time in three years. Uthappa was also voted the third most-valuable player in the tournament. His performances have helped him return to the Indian ODI line-up.
Dwayne Smith (Chennai Super Kings)
Smith was himself consistent with the bat as he too scored five half-centuries for the Super Kings in 16 matches. His total of 566 runs was the second highest in the
tournament, he averaged nearly 36 with the bat with a strike rate of 136. Smith was rated as the second most-valuable player in the tournament after also capturing four wickets and hitting 34 sixes, the second highest of the competition.
Glenn Maxwell (Kings XI Punjab)
Australian Maxwell had a fantastic IPL as he was voted the most-valuable player in the tournament after hitting 552 runs, including four half-centuries, three of which were scores in the 90s as well as hitting a mammoth 48 sixes, the most by any player.
He averaged just over 34 but his strike rate - at nearly 188 runs per 100 balls - set him apart from most other batsmen. Although he struggled later in the tournament, after such a bright start he was still the third-highest run scorer in the competition. Maxwell also took a wicket for the Kings XI.
Top three bowlers
Mohit Sharma (Chennai Super Kings)
Chennai Super Kings' Sharma was crowned as the winner of the Purple Cap for being the leading wicket taker in IPL7 with 23 wickets from 16 matches. Although his economy rate was high compared to the other leading wicket takers Narine and Kumar, his strike rate of a wicket every 14 balls was highly impressive. Chennai's captain - MS Dohni - often looked to Sharma when he needed a wicket and more often than not the medium pacer delivered.
Sunil Narine (Kolkata Knight Riders)
Another reason why the Kolkata Knight Riders were crowned champions of IPL7 was the form of their West Indian Sunil Narine. For a long time he was the leading wicket-taker in the tournament and although he would have been disappointed with his bowling in the final he will be satisfied with his overall haul of 21 wickets.
His economy rate of 6.35 was very impressive, particularly when the Knight Riders generally used him in the opening over and at the death in games. He also recorded two four-wicket hauls in his 16 matches, with a strike rate of a wicket every 18 balls.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
Kumar has been a real bonus for Indian cricket with his performances in this year's IPL. He took 20 wickets in the competition and bowled well at the death for his team. The fact that he kept Ishant Sharma out of the Sunrisers side speaks volumes for his performances.
His economy rate - at 6.65 - was exceptional as he took a wicket every 16 balls. It looks like this year's tournament could well be the breakthrough that Kumar has been looking for in order to return to the Indian national side after making his ODI debut back in 2012.
Added to those names detailed above are players such as Akshar Patel (KXIP), who won the Emerging Player of the Tournament award, and Manish Pandey (KKR), who won the Man of the Match award in the final for his match-winning 94 from 50 balls which helped the Knight Riders capture the trophy. India have definitely discovered some real talent which bodes well for their limited overs games.
IPL8, although seemingly a long way off, will no doubt be just as successful as this year's tournament.
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