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Although there is a third of the IPL season to go, with the playoffs to come after that, certain players have already emerged as leading contenders for the major awards at the end of the season.
Everybody will have their own favorites, but here are five players who could be in contention based on form and performances to date.
Top IPL Player 1: Jos Buttler
Englishman Jos Buttler finds himself leading the IPL scoring charts and, if he continues in his current form, he may not only win the Orange Cap for the first time, but he could even threaten Virat Kohli's all-time runs record for a single IPL season.
In 10 innings for the Rajasthan Royals, he has scored 588 runs at an average of 65.33. That includes three centuries -one behind the record for a single season set by Kohli again, and has the highest individual score this year as well, making 116 off 65 balls against the Delhi Capitals.
Buttler will be hoping that his white ball form could yet earn him a chance to revive a test career with England that seems to have come to a full stop after the Ashes defeat in Australia earlier this year. And now that his good friend Ben Stokes has assumed the captaincy of the test side, a new page might be turned.
One of the enduring frustrations about the Englishman over the years has been his inability to convert his one-day form in a longer format of the sport. At test cricket, he tends to become bogged down and adopt a safety-first approach, which often seems to result in a cheap dismissal.
T20 cricket is different. He thrives on the pressure of opening for his team, not just attempting to smash every ball out of the park but demonstrating an ability to construct an innings, working through tough periods at the crease and coming out the other end.
There is also a sense that, despite all the pressures of the IPL, Buttler is thriving in India, happy to be away from all the soul-searching and naval gazing that English cricket is undergoing right now.
It has been 14 years since the Rajasthan Royals won the IPL. If they are to improve on that record, then they will need Buttler to keep scoring.
Top IPL Player 2: KL Rahul
The Lucknow Super Giants (LSG), along with the other expansion franchise, are one of the stories of the IOL so far this season, and now both look set to make the playoffs.
And if LSG does make it they will owe quite a debt to Rahul, not only for his batting but also captaincy.
He is second only to Buttler in terms of the number of runs scored 451 from his ten matches so far, at an average of 45.1 And he has also scored the only two centuries not scored by the Englishman this year, ironically both against the Mumbai Indians who must be sick of the sight of him.
He has also been an inspired choice of captain for the new franchise. He has a calm demeanor which he combines with instinctive on-field decision-making.
Rahul has the confidence of all gifted players, and this is transmitted in the way that he carries himself on the field, in team meetings, and also in the support that he provides to his colleagues. That makes players want to play under him and makes for a more harmonious unit.
To a certain extent, he is in a similar position to Buttler in terms of his test career in feeling that he has something to prove. A spell as stand-in captain for India in South Africa did not go as well as he would have wanted, especially as the burden of responsibility seemed to inhibit his batting. He was criticized for his indecision on the field.
However, if he is able to steer LSG to a maiden IPL title, he may be deserving of another chance.
Top IPL Player 3: Umran Malik
Umran Malik must be a contender for the Emerging Player of the Year award. When he was called up by the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) last September as a short-term Covid replacement for T. Natarajan, little was known about the then 21-year-old fast bowler.
But when one of his deliveries against the Kolkata Knight Riders was clocked at 93 mph, people began to sit up and take notice. He ended up bowling nine out of the ten fastest deliveries of any bowler in that mini-season, and that was more than enough to convince SRH that he was worth retaining for the current season.
Malik has impressed not just with his speed, but also with his ability to produce almost unplayable bouncers, a lethal weapon in the arsenal of any fast bowler.
Against the Gujarat Titans in April he took his first five-wicket haul in T20 cricket, and is currently eighth in the race for the Purple Cap, having taken more wickets than many experienced men.
(In fact, his 5 – 25 in that match are the best figures recorded by any bowler in the tournament so far this year).
If he continues this form the Indian selectors will soon be taking a look at him, having been called up as a net bowler for the T20 World Cup last year. It would not be a surprise if he finds himself in a limited-overs squad before too long.
India has a history of producing young, quick fast bowlers, but Malik may just be the best of the current crop just now.
Top IPL Player 4: Yuzvendra Chahal
Rajasthan Royal's Yuzvendra Chahal may have felt that he had a point to prove to those same Indian selectors going into this year's tournament, after being left out of India's T20 World Cup squad last year.
The left arm had led India's spin attack in white ball cricket for the past few years but was excluded from the squad after a dip.
Despite doing well for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the second part of the IPL season, not only was he not named in the revised squad, he did not even feature for the reserves either. By his own admission, he was down for a while but regrouped, spoke to his coaches, and tried to put his disappointment behind him.
In February RR picked him up in the mega auction and the change of franchise seems to have given him a new lease on life. He now leads the Purple Cap standings having taken 19 wickets, with his best being the 5 – 40 he took against the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) on April 18th. And, with RR increasingly looking like they might be involved in the playoff picture, he has the chance to improve his statistics further before he is done.
Given that India failed to get to the knock-out stages of the World Cup last year, there may be regret in some circles that they chose to overlook Chahal for that tournament. He will surely be in line for a recall if he maintains his current level.
Top IPL Player 5: Kagiso Rabada
South African Kagiso Rabada won the Purple Cap in 2020, and it is no surprise to see that he is among the leading bowlers again.
A man who has topped both the ICC ODI and Test bowler rankings, he became the youngest cricketer in 2018 to take 150 wickets in test cricket.
He first joined the IPL with the Delhi Capitals in 2017, and played with them for five seasons, but, when they failed to retain him for this season, he was bought by the Punjab Kings (PBKS) in the 2022 auction. PBKS wanted him for his ability not only to bowl fast, but also at variable pace when required, and for his variety – he can bowl both inswingers and outswingers and has the knack of surprising batters with nasty bouncers that can rear up off the pitch. He is also a useful lower batsman, with the ability to hit boundaries in the death overs. Rabada also is blessed with a calm temperament, an asset in the high-pressure environment of the IPL.
So far, PBKS may not have had the season they would have wanted, Rabada has done his bit for the cause, taking 17 wickets from 9 matches so far, with his best, in terms of figures, being the 4 – 33 that he took in the defeat of table toppers Gujarat Titans at the start of this month. He will claim more victims before the current campaign is done.