Hardik Pandya and Suryakumar Yadav, the two key components of Team India middle-order, have shown signs of coming back into form. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: The Indian Premier League is hotting up, with plenty of twists and turns and the last-ball drama that has been long associated with the league. However, the biggest difference this week, rather an important one, is the return to form of the Indian stars, who were outshone by the rookies and newcomers in the initially phase of the 16th edition of the world’s richest Twenty20 franchise league.

From the start of the IPL 2023, Virat Kohli and Shubman Gill were the only two Indian batters who found their touch and translated their international form in IPL. The lack of form of key middle order batter Suryakumar Yadav was a huge concern for Mumbai Indians and Team India.

SPO_230417 ISHAN KISHAN-1681736564789
Mumbai Indians opener Ishan Kishan gave Mumbai Indians a quickfire start, scoring 58 off 25 balls. Image Credit: AFP

SKY falls on Mr 360

SKY, as he is popularly known, came down crashing and he found the going tough. It was the lack of confidence that had a huge effect on the batter, who could play 360 degrees. Since his three ducks against Australia in the One Day Internationals, Suryakumar was too tentative even in Twenty20 games for the five-time champions.

As a stroke of luck, Suryakumar got his swagger back after getting the leadership responsibilities against Kolkata Knight Riders at his home turf, hitting some sublime shots that has always punctuated his innings. Ishan Kishan scoring his maiden half-century augurs well as the left-hander is a proven match-winner. Their knock coming in for a winning cause should also boost the team’s morale.

SPO_230417 RAHUL-1681736562277
Lucknow skipper KL Rahul's patient knock didn't help the team's cause much, but nevertheless the half-century helped him end a lean patch. Image Credit: AFP

Audacious strokes

Lucknow Super Giants’ skipper KL Rahul also shook off some rust with his maiden half-century this season against a potent Punjab Kings attack, led by left-arm pacers Arshdeep Singh and Sam Curran. But with a strike-rate of under 150, and playing half the number of overs, these kind of knocks in Twenty20 games will certainly won’t help team’s cause, a reason for Lucknow finishing with below-par total. At least Rahul has made a start for now.

Hardik Pandya bowling four successive overs and playing some of his audacious strokes against Rajasthan Royals prove that the Gujarat Titans skipper is back to his best. In the process the Indian all-rounder also became the second Indian and sixth overall to reach the unique double of 50 wickets and 2,000 runs in IPL. Chennai Super Kings’ all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja is the first to be on the elite list with 2,531 runs and 138 wickets.

SPO_230417 SANJU-1681736559985
Sanju Samson has the quality and ability to be a regular member of the Indian whiteball team. His consistent show in IPL will help him return to Team India colours.. Image Credit: AFP

Supremely talented batter

Sanju Samson, who has been in and out of the Indian team, once again staked his claim to the middle-order spot, which he lost to his India Under-19 teammate Shreyas Iyer. With Shreyas nursing an injury, Rahul has been filling in the role as a middle-order in the shorter formats along with his keeping, but if Samson could maintain his consistency this season then the supremely talented Rajasthan skipper could clinch one of the 15 spots for the ICC 50-over World Cup, to be held in India later this year.

Samson so far has scored two fifties and one 43 in five matches and the other two being zeros. He needs to maintain his consistency for his personal benefit as well as for the fortunes of Rajasthan, who rode on Jos Buttler’s stunning run last year only to fall at the final hurdle to Gujarat in the final.