AB de Villiers is South Africa’s biggest import in the Indian Premier League, though ‘Mr 360’ himself will be glad to jostle for the MVP with his erstwhile understudy for the Proteas.
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Quinton de Kock doesn’t draw headlines like de Villiers does season after season, but his quality as opener and wicketkeeper has added steel to champions Mumbai Indians for a second year in a row.
In 2019, his first season for MI, he hit 529 runs at a strike-rate of 132.91 with four fifties. He also had 19 victims as ‘keeper. It helped MI win their fourth title, beating Chennai Super Kings. This season, the 27-year-old finished with 503 runs (SR: 140.50) and 24 victims behind the stumps, adding two in the power-play in the IPL 2020 final against Delhi Capitals at Dubai on Tuesday.
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Marked as world class even as a junior, de Kock surprisingly has meandered through IPL before finding his “home”, as he calls Mumbai Indians. He started with Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2013, moved to Delhi Daredevils next season and then to Royal Challengers Bangalore, where he got only eight games in 2018, his only season for the franchise. He had touched double figures for Delhi only in 2016 (13).
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All that changed as MI quickly made him an integral part of their plans. It wasn’t easy to get going this season though, coming after the long lockdown. But once he found his flow – belting a 39-ball 67 to beat SRH in his fifth game – he has been consistent. A sequence of 53, 78*, 53 and 46* saw MI win five of six games.
“I was a little bit lost and [it was] hard to build an innings. I didn’t know when to go hard, when not to, I was a bit confused. I think it was because of the break,” he said in a media interaction later.
He has adapted to opening with Rohit Sharma, or Ishan Kishan when the captain was injured. Behind the stumps he has been a rock supporting the fiery bowling of Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult. In the final he took Marcus Stoinis’ high edge and Ajinkya Rahane’s nick down the leg.
That is how an MVP race is reeled in without a fuss.
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