Humdingers, bottle jobs, more bottle jobs, imperious hitting, rusty gates masquerading as power hitters, uncapped Indian players emerging as match-winners, sumptuous strokeplay, brilliant death bowling, we have seen it all in the first week of IPL 2021.
The Bharat Army takes a look at the top-5 memorable moments, player of the week, and the best game of the season thus far-
Top-5 Memorable Moments of IPL 2021 Week 1 ~
1) Harshal Patel becoming the 1st bowler to take 5 wicket haul vs MI:
The Royal Challengers Bangalore had traded Harshal Patel from Delhi Capitals with a specific goal in mind: spearhead their death bowling.
And, the right-arm fast bowler seems to be relishing his new role. Patel stamped his authority in the first game of IPL 2021 and he did that against the best side of the league- Mumbai Indians- as he became the first bowler to claim a five-wicket haul against the five-time champions.
With Ishan Kishan and Hardik Pandya looking to tee off in the death overs and the likes of Krunal Pandya and Kieron Pollard to follow, the signs were looking ominous for RCB.
Enter Harshal Patel and his plethora of slower deliveries. Patel, who had been carted around for 15 in his first over, trapped Hardik and then Ishan plumb in front with slower deliveries in his next two overs.
He then proceeded to bowl one of the greatest final over of all times as he gave away just one run besides claiming three wickets- Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, and Marco Jansen. Patel ended up with figures of 5/27 in four overs and if that wasn't enough, he also hit the winning runs for his team to round off what was a perfect game for him.
2) Deepak Hooda's brilliant cameo against RR:
Deepak Hooda did not have a great 3-4 months leading into the IPL. His spat with Baroda all-rounder Krunal Pandya became a public affair, post which he was banned by the Baroda Cricket Association.
That incident happened in January. Four months later in his maiden IPL 2021 encounter, Hooda chose to respond with his bat.
Coming into bat at No.4 ahead of Nicholas Pooran, Deepak Hooda smashed a whirlwind 28-ball 64 against Rajasthan Royals and in the process, he became the first uncapped Indian player to smash half-centuries in less than 23 balls twice in IPL history.
His 28-ball 64 helped Punjab Kings continue with the momentum and they eventually finished with a match-winning 6-221 in 20 overs.
3) Sanju Samson's 100 on IPL captaincy debut
It was pure; it was serene; it was ruthless; it was swashbuckling and it nearly turned out to be a match-winning innings for Rajasthan Royals from their skipper, Sanju Samson.
He had his fair share of luck thanks to a plethora of dropped catches by PBKS fielders but, as they say, it's not about the luck, it's about what you make of the good fortune presented to you.
And, Samson made full use of his good fortune as he enthralled the folklore with his gobsmacking strokeplay to become the first batsmen to score a hundred on IPL captaincy debut.
Samson (119 off 63 balls) nearly pulled off the game when he stroked Arshdeep Singh over deep extra-cover, inky to see it end up inches short of the boundary line.
4) KKR's epic choke against MI:
40 runs needed off the last 36 balls with seven wickets still in the bank and proven finishers in Dinesh Karthik and Andre Russell to follow. What could possibly go wrong? Well! Ask Kolkata Knight Riders.
Chasing 153, KKR was cruising along at 3/104 after 12.5 overs with a well-set Nitish Rana (57 off 47 balls) at the crease. Then, tragedy struck.
Rahul Chahar (4/27), who had bowled beautifully to knock over the top-3, dismissed Nitish Rana on the last ball of his spell, thus opening the floodgates for MI.
Krunal Pandya (1/13 in 4 overs) bowled a brilliant spell in which he got rid of Shakib, who swung wildly across the line.
On a pitch where hitting against the old ball was tough, Dinesh Karthik (8* off 11) and Andre Russell (9 off 15 balls) against Jasprit Bumrah and then Trent Boult, who knocked over Dre Russ and Pat Cummins to seal the deal for the defending champions.
5) David Miller's 62 and Chris Morris 36* off 18 to help RR win against DC:
Chris Morris was denied the strike by a rampaging Sanju Samson during the first match against Punjab Kings, and his expression after that was priceless.
A few days later, life came a full circle for the Proteas all-rounder as the million-dollar man smoked an unbeaten 36* off 18 to pull off an unlikely win for the Royals.
With 27 required off the last 2 overs, Morris creamed Kagiso Rabada for two sixes in the penultimate over before doing an encore of the same in the final six balls bowled by Tom Curran to seal the deal against the Delhi Capitals.
Bharat Army Player of the Week- Harshal Patel (RCB)
Harshal Patel has stamped his authority as an unlikely match-winner for the superstars-laden Royal Challengers Bangalore in the first week of IPL 2021.
Primed with the task of doing the 'dirty work' i.e bowling death overs, Patel has so far done brilliantly, having taken seven wickets across two games while bowling at the death.
Unarguably, his best performance came against Mumbai Indians in the opening game of IPL 2021. Patel, courtesy of his slower deliveries, bamboozled the vaunted MI middle-order to become the first-ever bowler to claim a five-wicket haul against the defending champions.
And, if that wasn't enough, he also proceeded to hit the winning runs off the last delivery against Marco Jansen.
In the following game against SunRisers Hyderabad, Harshal Patel erred by bowling a waist-high no-ball against Rashid Khan in the final over but he made amends for it as he dismissed Shahbaz Nadeem to eventually successfully defend 16 runs.
In the two games thus far, Harshal Patel has claimed 7 wickets at an average of 7.43 and an economy rate of 6.5.
Bharat Army IPL Game of the week 1~
Punjab Kings vs Rajasthan Royals, Mumbai. Result: Punjab Kings won by 4 runs
Punjab Kings vs Rajasthan Royals is turning out to be an enthralling rivalry and another golden chapter of it was written in the first week of IPL 2021.
It was a game where both captains stamped their authority. While KL Rahul was enthralled with a 50-ball 91, Sanju Samson dazzled with a sumptuous 63-ball 119.
But, it was a game that saw uncapped Indian players like Chetan Shakariya, Arshdeep Singh, and Deepak Hooda, who stole the show with their game-changing performances.
On a track where every bowler went the distance, Sakariya claimed 3/31 in four overs to help RR limit the damage, Deepak Hooda smashed a 28-ball 64 to shut down his critics, who were questioning his promotion ahead of Nicholas Pooran.
And, then, when Sanju Samson was going at full throttle during the run-chase of 222, young Arshdeep Singh held his nerves to give just 8 runs in the final over to ensure that the bridge proved to be 'too close yet too far for Samson and Rajasthan Royals.