Cricket is an unpredictable sport. This vacillating nature gets underlined in the T20 format, especially in the high-pressure Indian Premier League (IPL), where nerves matter, and a player can single-handedly affect the result with a match-winning performance.
The 2023 edition belonged to Indians, who ruled the charts with bat and ball, but some veteran international players did their usual chores to stand out. Let us have a look at the seven best foreigners of this season:
1. Faf du Plessis (Royal Challengers Bangalore) – 730 Runs in 14 Matches
Faf du Plessis seems hungry for an international comeback in T20Is; at least his bat sent that message to the selectors in South Africa after he registered eight 50+ scores in the tournament at a strike rate of 153.68. The explosive right-hander dominated the bowlers by smashing 96 boundaries. He hit 60 fours and 36 sixes to top the Orange Cap list so far.
Indian batter Shubman Gill (722 runs) may surpass him, but no one else is near his vicinity. The Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper struck an electric partnership with Virat Kohli, amassing 939 runs as a pair – the joint-most in the tournament equalling the record of Kohli-Ab De Villiers in 2016. The duo recorded eight 50+ partnerships, including three century stands.
2. Devon Conway (Chennai Super Kings) – 625 Runs in 15 Matches
Conway is a master at assessing conditions, and that's been the secret to his success in the IPL. Beyond the IPL, he had played only five white-ball international games in India. The left-hander from New Zealand opened the batting for the Super Kings and is the only Kiwi batter to have had an impact in the season with six half-centuries at a strike rate of 137.06.
The unbeaten 92 against Punjab Kings, 87 against Delhi Capitals and 77 not out against Sunrisers Hyderabad were his top three knocks. Ruturaj Gaikwad and Conway amassed 775 runs in 14 games as openers in the current season after 14 games.
3. David Warner (Delhi Capitals) – 516 Runs in 14 Matches
Warner did not have a great time in the middle coming into the IPL. The explosive left-hander, also an IPL winner with Sunrisers Hyderabad in the past, endured a lacklustre tour of India, failing in the two Tests and the ODI post his elbow injury. The 36-year-old, however, found his old form after being named captain of the Delhi Capitals in the absence of Rishabh Pant.
Warner hit six half-centuries at a strike rate of 131.63, and recorded 86 off 58 balls as his highest score against the Super Kings. He hit 69 fours and 10 sixes but did not get support from his players to guide Delhi to the playoffs.
4. Cameron Green (Mumbai Indians) – 422 Runs & 6 Wickets in 15 Matches
The 23-year-old Australian all-rounder was the talk of the town after Mumbai Indians bought him for a whopping Rs 17.5 crore. He was seen as a possible replacement for Kieron Pollard, since he could bowl seam and hit the ball hard enough to send it out of the ground. Green did not disappoint with the bat, although he could have done better with the ball.
The man with long hands hit two fifties and scored an unbeaten 100 off only 47 balls in the must-win clash against Sunrisers Hyderabad. The 23-ball 41 in the Eliminator against Lucknow Super Giants was crucial to lay the foundation for victory. At present, the strike rate reads 161.07.
5. Rashid Khan (Gujarat Titans) – 25 Wickets in 15 Matches
Thunder, lightning or rain, Rashid's record remains unmatched in every IPL season. The Afghanistan leg-spinner choked the runs with 124 dot balls and picked up wickets consistently for the defending champions. This time, he created a new record with the bat by scoring an unbeaten 79 off 32 balls at No. 8 against Mumbai Indians after returning 4/30 in the first innings.
With that knock, he surpassed Pat Cummins to record the highest score in the IPL by a batter coming at the loss of six wickets. The Australian had scored 66 for the Kolkata Knight Riders against the Super Kings in 2021. Rashid is second in the Purple Cap race, behind teammate Mohammed Shami.
6. Matheesha Pathirana (Chennai Super Kings) – 17 Wickets in 11 Matches
Pathirana's bowling action is straight out of the Lasith Malinga manual. The former fast bowler has been working with the youngster at the high-performance centre in Sri Lanka. And finally, the IPL season gave him freedom under Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the Super Kings jersey. The batters have struggled to read the 20-year-old's sling action that drops the perfect yorkers.
He also surprises batters with slower deliveries amid the express pace. Manish Pandey, Nicholas Pooran and Andre Russell have been some of his big wickets in the tournament. He maintained an economy of 7.72 with 97 dot balls.
7. Trent Boult (Rajasthan Royals) – 13 Wickets in 10 Matches
New Zealand fast bowler Boult is an experienced customer in the tournament, but unfortunately, he did not do enough to be in the top 10 list of bowlers. The left-arm speedster contributed when it mattered, although he wasn't among the more consistent players of the season.
Among the performances that helped the Royals would be the 3/29 against the Capitals in early April and 2/15 against the Knight Riders a fortnight ago. There were flashes of the old Boult when he picked up Kohli in one of the games, albeit in a losing cause.