As the Indian T20 League enters its final stretch, it’s not just the games of fantasy cricket on apps like Howzat that are getting heated. There are play-off places at stake and individual awards to be won. Here we look at one best player from each of the 10 teams who has enjoyed an outstanding season so far. One of them could well turn out to be the difference between a trophy win and a near miss.
Team Lucknow: M. Khan (9 wickets in 5 matches)
KL. Rahul is again on course for another 500-run season, while A. Khan is the leading wicket taker, as he was for Delhi last season. But the big difference maker in recent matches has been M. Khan, whose 9 wickets have come hand-in-hand with an outstanding economy rate of 5.35. In a low-scoring victory over Punjab, he took 3-24, including the crucial wicket of the big-hitting L. Livingstone. In the 6-run win over Delhi, he was even better, taking 4-16. His wickets were D. Warner, R. Pant, R. Powell and S. Thakur, all capable of changing a game in the space of an over or two.
Team Gujarat: D. Miller (306 runs in 11 innings at a strike rate of 145.02)
Miller may have played more than 200 international matches for South Africa, but his Indian T20 League record since 2015 had been just pathetic. In 42 matches between 2016 and 2021, he made just 2 half centuries, and the strike rate was so low that it made a mockery of his nickname “The Killer.” But since moving to Gujarat, Miller has shown glimpses of the form that made him cross 400 runs in both 2013 and 2014. He has been a hit player and contributed decisively to several wins, with his best being a sparkling 94* against Chennai, the defending champions.
Team Rajasthan: J. Buttler (618 runs in 11 innings at a strike rate of 152.21)
J. Buttler is hardly an unknown quantity, having won a World Cup with England in 2019. But his consistency this season has been mind-boggling, with 3 centuries (against Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi) and 3 other scores over 50. There have been times at the start of an innings when Buttler has struggled, but instead of giving it away, he has played through the rough phase and opened up with big shots later in the innings. If Rajasthan make the play-offs for the first time in 4 years, he would have had a huge role to play. It doesn’t matter which fantasy cricket app you use because Buttler will have a place in pretty much every player’s team.
Team Bangalore: D. Karthik (274 runs in 12 innings at a strike rate of 200)
No one with over 200 runs this season can come close to matching Karthik’s strike rate. India have previously used him at times as a finisher in limited-overs matches, and he has had some success too. But in this Indian T20 League campaign, he has taken his batting to another level. In Bangalore’s 7 wins so far, D. Karthik hasn’t been dismissed even once, and he has made 200 runs. The 8-ball 30 that helped destroy Hyderabad and avenge a humiliating defeat was just the latest example of his devastating hitting.
Team Delhi: D. Warner (375 runs in 9 innings at a strike rate of 156.90)
Warner scoring runs in the Indian T20 League would normally not be news. In all the seasons he played between 2014 and 2020, he has topped 500 runs each time. If you had been giving someone fantasy cricket tips and tricks then, one of the first would have been: Pick D. Warner. But his 2021 tournament with Hyderabad was so awful – 195 runs in 8 matches at a dismal strike rate of 107.73 – that it wasn’t a great surprise when the franchise let him go. But though he’s now 35, Delhi, who he first played for back in 2009, took a chance on him. He joined the team late, but has since smashed 4 half centuries to keep their play-off hopes alive. He may not win a 4th Orange Cap – J. Buttler is too far in front – but Warner has shown just why he’s a league legend.
Team Hyderabad: T. Natarajan (17 wickets in 9 matches)
U. Malik’s raw pace has had the commentators and fans alike searching for superlatives, but you could easily argue that Natarajan has been Hyderabad’s best bowler. He has taken 2 more wickets than Malik in two fewer matches, and his fitness issues could cost Hyderabad a place in the play-offs. He was integral to their 5-match winning streak and climb up the table, with his best being 3-10 against star-studded Bangalore. The economy rate of 8.65 may seem on the high side, but Natarajan usually ends up bowling the most difficult overs.
Team Punjab: L. Livingstone (315 runs in 11 innings at a strike rate of 184.21)
Unless they can find the consistency that has eluded them all tournament, Punjab will miss out on a play-off spot for an 8th straight season. If they do, it won’t be because of a lack of effort from L. Livingstone. He may have been a hit player and made a name for himself in other leagues, but was a relative unknown as far as Indian audiences were concerned. But not any more. He has hit the longest six in the competition, and made 3 fifties. Sadly for him and Punjab, his bowling hasn’t had anything like the same impact.
Team Chennai: D. Conway (231 runs in 4 innings at a strike rate of 155.03)
It speaks volumes of the mess that Chennai’s title defense has been that Conway didn’t play a single match between 26th March and 1st May. One failure in the tournament opener was enough to see him banished to the bench. Since his return, he has played match-winning knocks against Hyderabad (85*) and Delhi (87), and was the highest scorer in a loss to Bangalore. If Chennai fail to make it to the play-offs, the team management will have some awkward questions to answer.
Team Kolkata: A.Russell (272 runs in 9 innings, at a strike rate of 183.78, and 12 wickets)
At 34, Russell’s body is creaking, but he can still summon up performances that make you gasp. As a team, Kolkata haven’t been anywhere near good enough, losing 6 of their last 7 games after a bright start to the season. A. Russell, though, has been their best batter and a hit player, making runs at his usual frantic pace, and taking wickets in bunches. The 31-ball 70* against Punjab, featuring 8 sixes, was the kind of knock only he could play, and he took 4-5 against then-table-topping Gujarat in a game lost because of the incompetence of his teammates.
Team Mumbai: S. Yadav (303 runs in 8 innings at a strike rate of 145.67)
There aren’t enough words to express just how poor Mumbai’s season has been. R. Sharma has had a miserable run with the bat, J. Bumrah hasn’t taken the wickets expected of him, and K. Pollard seems on his last lap as a top-notch all-rounder. After missing the first two games due to an injury he sustained while playing for India, S. Yadav has been one of the few bright spots. His 3rd half century of the season fetched Mumbai their first win, which came against Rajasthan. S. Yadav and T. Varma, along with the recalled T. David, seem to be 3 individuals the franchise can build the batting around in the future.
You, too, can become a hit player and win handsome cash przies daily this T20 season. Download Howzat Fantasy Cricket App now and enjoy the Indian T20 League fantasy cricket experience. So what are you waiting for?