The final week of the IPL league stages witnessed some incredible individual performances, and it was a tough task leaving out a leg-spinner with a hat-trick and another who should have had one, out of the top 10. Just like last week, only three players retained their places from last week in this week's top 10.
The rankings are purely subjective, taking into consideration both numbers as well as on-field impact.
10 Manish Pandey [Sunrisers Hyderabad]
Manish Pandey carried his good form from the week before to register perhaps the single most impressive individual batting performance of the week, away to Mumbai Indians. Sunrisers Hyderabad weren't chasing a massive total, with Mumbai having scored just 162, but the wheels appeared to be coming off when Wriddhiman Saha, Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson, all departed in quick succession. Pandey carried on with some intelligent batting at three, scoring 70 off 43, including a six off the last ball from Hardik Pandya to enforce the Super Over. His run out off the first ball of the resultant Super Over from Jasprit Bumrah just added the tragic touch to what was a truly heroic effort.
9 Riyan Parag [Rajasthan Royals]
Two of his leg-spinning teammates, Shreyas Gopal and Ish Sodhi, impressed in a forgettable week for the Rajasthan Royals with three-wicket hauls, and Riyan Parag played a part in both with some smart catching. In a five-over shootout against Royal Challengers Bangalore, Parag was actually handed the ball for an over by Steven Smith, and responded with the wicket of Gurkeerat Singh in an eventual no result. Over the weekend in Delhi, Parag showed his maturity on a slow, inconsistent pitch by crafting a dogged half-century as his team crumbled to a total of 115 for 9 around him. One for the future, both for Rajasthan and potentially India.
8 David Warner [Sunrisers Hyderabad]
David Warner had just one hit-out in the middle during his last week before joining the Australian team, and what a hit it turned out to be! His 81 off 56 included just two sixes and seven fours, but faced with a spin-heavy Kings XI Punjab attack, his neutralising the threat of Mujeeb Ur Rahman was to prove decisive as he helped his team rack up 212, which was always going to be difficult against a balanced Sunrisers attack. The two points won in Hyderabad that night -- with the net run-rate getting a boost -- also played a big role in Warner's team making it to the playoffs.
7 KL Rahul [Kings XI Punjab]
KL Rahul produced two contrasting knocks in the 70s this past week, and not surprisingly, the more rapid fire innings produced an easy win for the Kings XI Punjab. It would be worthwhile to understand what circumstances prompted him to go at 79 off 56 against Sunrisers Hyderabad, including a massive Powerplay slowdown, when chasing 213. Chris Gayle fell inside three balls, and with Mayank Agarwal being unable to sustain his aggression for long, Rahul may have thought it imperative to bat as deep to take the chase closer, besides having nothing offered easy by the Sunrisers bowlers. Against Chennai Super Kings, his 19-ball fifty appeared to come easier, with Kings XI virtually out of the playoffs by then, and Gayle happy to drop anchor at the other end, as Rahul showed his full range of strokes against pace and spin. His form is a huge bonus for the Indian team, with the World Cup around the corner.
6 Shubman Gill [Kolkata Knight Riders]
With Kolkata Knight Riders staring at elimination after a miserable mid-tournament run, Shubman Gill was brought up to the top of the order for good, and he responded with one of the knocks of the tournament against Kings XI Punjab on his domestic home ground of Mohali. Gill's unbeaten 65 came at a strike rate of just 132, but it was the kind of mature innings his team needed in hunting down 185 against Kings XI Punjab, with both teams' playoff hopes on the line. Punctuated with some exquisite drives either side of the wicket down the ground, he allowed the likes of Chris Lynn and Andre Russell to take their chances and keep Kolkata up with the asking rate, knowing that Gill was intent on batting through the innings.
5 Sam Curran [Kings XI Punjab]
If Kings XI Punjab have missed the bus for the playoffs -- and remember that they finished level on points with fourth-placed Sunrisers Hyderabad -- some of the blame could lie on not having utilised all of the skills of Sam Curran, which he amply demonstrated across the last two games. With Kolkata Knight Riders removing the Kings XI Punjab openers early on Friday evening, first Nicholas Pooran and then Curran provided the necessary impetus to take the team to 183 for 6. Curran was especially impressive in a 24-ball 55 where he innovated and struck the ball hard when it was in the slot for him. Against Chennai Super Kings on Sunday, Curran first removed Shane Watson with a good length ball angling across him, with captain R Ashwin setting the field up for one of Watson's favoured glides down to third man. When Chennai were looking at a total in the vicinity of 190-200 following a big partnership between Faf du Plessis and Suresh Raina, he came back to dismiss both and keep the Super Kings down to just 170.
4 Quinton de Kock [Mumbai Indians]
Mumbai Indians eventually topped the league stages, and Quinton de Kock carried the batting with composure in their last two games, besides being an energetic presence behind the stumps. In the match against Sunrisers Hyderabad, de Kock played a steady hand of 69 not out to take them to a defendable 162 against a quality bowling attack, and then played his part in running out Manish Pandey off the first ball of the Super Over with a good take off Krunal Pandya. Against Kolkata Knight Riders, he took catches off both Chris Lynn and Andre Russell, as Mumbai arguably closed the game out with the ball itself by keeping Kolkata down to just 133, but de Kock made sure there were no flutters with a calculated 30 to set up the Mumbai chase. His partnership with Rohit Sharma was just worth 46, but when he fell off the first ball after six overs to a terrific catch by Dinesh Karthik, he had already brought the equation to less than a run a ball, from where there could have been only one winner.
3 MS Dhoni [Chennai Super Kings]
For the Chennai Super Kings, Faf du Plessis and Suresh Raina had two good matches with the bat, and Imran Tahir and Ravindra Jadeja rediscovered their wicket-taking touch when they faced Delhi Capitals at Chepauk, but MS Dhoni's contribution in setting up the rout against Delhi stood out. Sent in to bat, Chennai were still a bit iffy at 87 for 2 in the 14th over, when Dhoni walked in. He played himself in during the early stages, but saved the best for the end stages, tearing into Trent Boult as his 22-ball 44 took the Super Kings to 179 for 4. During the reply, Jadeja and Tahir took seven wickets, but three of those had a hand from Dhoni behind the wicket. Particularly, his stumpings of Chris Morris and Shreyas Iyer, coming three balls apart, were top-class in terms of both game awareness, timing and reflexes.
2 Hardik Pandya [Mumbai Indians]
Hardik Pandya had a quiet week with the bat, starting in a hurry with a six and a four against Sunrisers Hyderabad, before a quick back-of-a-length ball from Bhuvneshwar Kumar pre-empted a false shot from him. Pandya's bowling this week, however, was vital for Mumbai Indians -- first with a 2 for 20 against Sunrisers Hyderabad, where the six he conceded against Manish Pandey was a blip in an intelligent effort where he took out Abhishek Sharma and the dangerous Mohammad Nabi. Against Kolkata Knight Riders, the visitors had seemingly set themselves up perfectly with a first-wicket stand of 49 in the Powerplay, but Pandya's first ball after that was an off-cutter that caught Shubman Gill right in front of the stumps. Giving nothing away in his first two overs, Pandya then got rid of Chris Lynn, and from then on Kolkata just never got the handbrake off their innings.
1 Khaleel Ahmed [Sunrisers Hyderabad]
Nine wickets in three matches over the past week don't convey all that is good about Khaleel Ahmed, whose bowling performances and the playful wave of the hand at the outgoing batsmen perhaps suggest a young man bitterly disappointed at having missed the selection for the World Cup. Khaleel's bowling for Sunrisers Hyderabad tends to follow a similar pattern -- he comes on with well-set batsmen, who seem to get a hold of him early on. Before long, his cutters and variations draw ridiculous shots from the best of pros, and he winds up with three for anywhere between 35 and 45 in his four overs. His victims over the past week included Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and Chris Gayle, and his performance against Delhi Capitals in the eliminator could be a decisive factor for Sunrisers.