The fifth week of the IPL saw teams falling back on their Indian performers over the seasons, possibly a byproduct of some of the World Cup-bound players leaving their franchises. Just three of last week's top 10 players retain their places this week, where some of the batsmen hit back with big performances.
(The rankings are purely subjective, taking into consideration both numbers as well as on-field impact.)
10 Varun Aaron [Rajasthan Royals]
In a week where bat dominated ball, Rajasthan Royals had a bowling ace up their sleeve in Varun Aaron, drafted in to replace Dhawal Kulkarni against Kolkata Knight Riders. Having won the toss, Steven Smith was looking for early wickets, and Aaron delivered a wicked wicket maiden, getting one through Chris Lynn with sheer pace. A beautiful in-ducker that crashed through the defences of the technically sound Shubman Gill helped Aaron return figures of two for 20. The wickets kept coming for Aaron against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Saturday, though he would have preferred to match the scalps of Vijay Shankar and Bhuvneshwar Kumar with figures more miserly than two for 36.
9 Manish Pandey [Sunrisers Hyderabad]
His team Sunrisers Hyderabad had a week to forget but Manish Pandey enhanced his credentials with two classy half-centuries, both coming in at number three. His unbeaten 83 off 48 balls against Chennai Super Kings propelled his team to a competitive 175 on a slow, low Chepauk pitch, while his 61 off 36 balls against Rajasthan Royals made up for an uncharacteristically scratchy innings from David Warner at the other end, besides ending up being the top score of the match.
8 Shikhar Dhawan [Delhi Capitals]
Shikhar Dhawan seemed a little confused about his exact role for Delhi Capitals at the start of the IPL but has been getting it right in recent matches. Over the past week, he hit two aggressive half-centuries, combining his innings against Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore for 104 runs off just 64 balls. In a post-match interview in Jaipur, he spoke about how much he is relishing the licence to play attacking cricket at the top of the order. There could be a temptation to ask him to rein himself in once he gets a start, but that might end up blunting precisely what makes him a dangerous player in the Powerplay for Delhi.
7 Riyan Parag [Rajasthan Royals]
He's just 17 but Riyan Parag has shown this IPL that he belongs and could serve Indian cricket well in the future. Rajasthan Royals skipper Steven Smith seems happy to turn to him for some overs of cutters, mixed in with some seam-up deliveries, and he went for just 56 runs off his seven overs across the week, picking up the wicket of Shreyas Iyer against Delhi. His best contribution came against Kolkata Knight Riders though, weathering a potential storm as the Kolkata spinners took out four quick wickets on a day that Rajasthan appeared a bit shallow in batting reserves. Sporting his traditional Assamese gamusa-themed towel around his waist, Parag showed the virtues of staying at the wicket, running hard and punishing the loose balls in a controlled 47 off 31 balls. He would have scored his fifty and seen his team home, but an Andre Russell lifter saw him swing the ball around to fine leg for four but dislodge his bails in the follow-through.
6 AB de Villiers [Royal Challengers Bangalore]
AB de Villiers failed to take advantage of a brisk start provided by Parthiv Patel and Virat Kohli against Delhi Capitals over the weekend, but he kept Royal Challengers Bangalore in the hunt for an unlikely playoffs berth by winding the clock down against Kings XI Punjab at home earlier in the week. He paced his unbeaten 82 off 44 balls to perfection, peppering all parts of the Chinnaswamy with seven sixes and three fours. When Kings XI Punjab launched a spirited assault in chasing down 203, de Villiers threw himself around in the outfield as he did for so many years in international cricket, taking the important catches of Chris Gayle, David Miller and Nicholas Pooran.
5 Rishabh Pant [Delhi Capitals]
Delhi Capitals qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2012, and Rishabh Pant's contribution in their two wins this past week was quite significant. Against Rajasthan Royals, he walked in with Delhi needing more than 10 runs per over just as the spinners were beginning to wrest the initiative in a chase of 192. He ran furiously, batted innovatively and stayed till the end to anchor the team home with an unbeaten 78 at better than a run a ball. Pant failed with the bat against Royal Challengers Bangalore but more than made up with two stunning catches -- diving to his left to pick up a deflection off Heinrich Klaasen's bat on to his helmet while standing up to spin and then sprawling away to his right to pluck a one-handed catch to remove Gurkeerat Singh.
4 Ajinkya Rahane [Rajasthan Royals]
Since being relieved of the Rajasthan Royals captaincy, Ajinkya Rahane has batted with a sense of freedom that has served both him and his side well. He began the week with a 58-ball century against a very potent Delhi Capitals attack, striking the ball fluently all the way through. He provided Rajasthan a brisk start against Kolkata Knight Riders with 34 off 21 and then dropped anchor as Liam Livingstone gave Rajasthan a quick start against Sunrisers Hyderabad. Rajasthan won the latter two games but Rahane's consistency has allowed them to build different team combinations for distinct playing surfaces.
3 Shreyas Gopal [Rajasthan Royals]
If Rajasthan Royals had a good week, Shreyas Gopal played his usual hand in it with his leg spin. He collected five wickets, and each of Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Nitish Rana, Kane Williamson and Manish Pandey is a specialist batsman. Perhaps his most crucial contribution came in a cameo of 18 against Kolkata, where he hit four boundaries off five balls he faced at one stage, lacing Andre Russell for an extra-cover drive, before hitting the part-time spin of Rana for a cut, a pull and then a gorgeous extra-cover drive. It helped soothe Rajasthan nerves during a tense chase, where they kept losing wickets at regular intervals.
2 Andre Russell [Kolkata Knight Riders]
The pressure on Andre Russell couldn't have been more going into Sunday's game against Mumbai Indians at the Eden Gardens. Coming in at six against Rajasthan Royals, Oshane Thomas had dismissed him for a scratchy 14, and he had conceded more than 10 runs an over. Kolkata hadn't beaten Mumbai in eight straight IPL games, Russell had called his own side a "good team making bad decisions" in the pre-match presser and captain Dinesh Karthik responded by elevating him to one-drop with the team scoring at about 10 runs per over. Russell got his eye in and played second fiddle to Shubman Gill for a while, before opening up in the end overs to power Kolkata to 232, the highest score of the IPL season thus far. There was brute force but also intelligent dabs as the Mumbai bowlers tried to bowl outside off stump with square fielders inside the circle. Russell bowled four economical overs, picked up two wickets and effectively won the game by holding on to the catch Hardik Pandya offered after a pulsating innings.
1 Hardik Pandya [Mumbai Indians]
If there's one player running Andre Russell the closest for Most Valuable Player of this IPL, it would be Mumbai Indians' Hardik Pandya and he showed exactly why when his team met Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday night. Pandya, who had already played his bit with a patient 23 and a wicket and a catch in Friday's emphatic victory away to Chennai Super Kings, had two good overs to start with, conceding 11 and forcing the well-set Shubman Gill to hole out with an off-cutter. Russell took a toll of Pandya's final over but the latter would return to light up the Mumbai chase with 91 off 34 balls -- 78 off those through boundaries off just 15 balls. He was striking the ball unbelievably well and when Russell finally caught him off Harry Gurney, Mumbai still needed four runs per ball. Had Pandya stayed in, that wouldn't have been out of reach!