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IPL 2016: Maiden T20 tons in losing causes, nightmarish season for Dhoni

India Today logo India Today 04-05-2016

Thirty matches of the Indian Premier League have been completed with no immediate respite for the bowlers in view as curators continue to dish out flat-batting tracks in the ongoing season of the cash-rich league.

The scorching summer heat in India is also taking its toll on the players, especially the bowlers, as batsmen continue to have an upper hand in the tournament. The likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Steve Smith have been in ominous form for their respective sides with Kohli and Smith being a part of a couple of unique games in the tournament so far.

Kohli and Smith's maiden tons go in vain

Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli and Rising Pune Suergiants batsman Steve Smith followed in Quinton de Kock's footsteps and notched up their maiden T20 centuries in the Indian Premier League but, unlike de Kock, they ended up on the losing side. In both cases the team at the other end was Suresh Raina's Gujarat Lions. Kohli smashed an unbeaten 100 in the game at Rajkot which propelled RCB to 180 for 2 in 20 overs. But the effort went in vain as Gujarat chased down the target with 6 wickets and 3 balls to spare thanks to some fantastic hitting from Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith and Dinesh Karthik. Next in line was Pune's star batsman Steve Smith, who made 101 off just 54 balls with a strike rate of over 187. But Raina's boys once again played party-poopers dismissing Pune's bowlers with the help of the usual suspects - McCullum, Smith and Karthik, winning the match by 3 wickets.

Axar Patel joins legion of greats with first hat-trick

This season's first hat-trick was picked up by Kings XI Punjab's Axar Patel. Playing against the Gujarat Lions at Rajkot, the left-arm spinner got rid of Dinesh Karthik and Dwayne Bravo in the final two deliveries off his second over and then took out Ravindra Jadeja with the first ball of his third over to complete his hat-trick. The Kings XI bowler finished with his best T20 figures of 4 for 21 runs in his quota of four overs, helping his side to a 23-run victory over the Lions. Axar became the 14th bowler to take a hat-trick in the cash-rich league. Axar's hat-trick was also the third for Punjab. The previous two were taken by Yuvraj Singh. Other players who have taken a hat-trick in IPL are Sunil Narine, Shane Watson, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Amit Mishra, Makhaya Ntini, Rohit Sharma, Praveen Kumar, Ajit Chandila and Pravin Tambe.

IPL turns into Injury-Plagued League for Pune and Mumbai

Rising Pune Supergiants have had a torrid time in the IPL so far. As if six losses from eight games was not enough, four key members of their squad have been ruled out of the remainder of the season due to injuries. The cast in order of their disappearance have been - Kevin Pietersen, Faf du Plessis, Mitchell Marsh and the latest to be ruled out is Steve Smith. No other team has had to deal with so many injuries in one season in the history of the IPL than the Supergiants. The team management is working overtime these days to find suitable replacements for the team rather than concentrating on winning matches. George Bailey and Usman Khawaja have been drafted into the squad with two more places left to be filled. Mumbai Indians have also lost two crucial players through injuries - Lasith Malinga and Lendl Simmons, while Kings XI Punjab batsman Shaun Marsh became the latest player to leave the tournament midway through an injury. As far as injuries go, the ninth season of the IPL has been the worst-hit so far.

MS Dhoni's IPL record as captain takes a hit

After leading the most sought-after team in the IPL for 8 years, Mahendra Singh Dhoni's record as a captain has taken a big hit since donning the purple for Rising Pune Supergiants this season. After losing four of their key international stars, Pune Supergiants are languishing at sixth position managing only two wins from eight matches. This is the worst start for Dhoni in IPL history. They are the only team to have not won a home match this season, ending up on the losing side in all four games so far. Dhoni has spent some glorious years with Chennai Super Kings, winning the IPL and the Champions League title twice, but all that success is in the past and his winning run finally seems to be coming to a halt at Pune.

Captains battle for the Orange Cap, McClenaghan leads Bumrah

Virat Kohli is fighting a three-way battle with Sunrisers Hyderabad captain David Warner and Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma for the Orange Cap this season. With 433 runs in 7 matches at an average of 72.16, Kohli leads the highest run-getters list followed by Warner in second with 386 runs in as many matches. Rohit is just three runs behind Warner in third. Kohli is the only batsmen among the top three to have scored a century this season. Mumbai Indians pacer Mitchell McClenaghan leads the race for the Purple Cap with 13 wickets in 9 games and best bowling figures of 4 for 21 and a strike rate of 15.9 which is outstanding considering the hammering which has been dished out to the bowlers this season. His teammate Jasprit Bumrah is just 2 wickets behind him in second while Mohit Sharma from Kings XI Punjab is third with 10 wickets, but he has played 2 games less than the other two. Sharma is getting a wicket after every 13 balls this season.

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