Such was Krunal Pandya's 2017 IPL that few expected him to be uncapped by the time the auctions arrived in 2018. The elder Pandya brother was a revelation with his floating role in the batting line-up and niggardly spells with the ball.

The left-hander smashed 243 runs at 34.71 and a strike rate of 135.75 in addition to picking up 19 wickets at a stunning economy of 6.82. Pandya was among the most valuable players, uncapped or capped, and stood out with his exemplary all-round role in the IPL.

Yet, despite India trying a slew of new T20 players - 8 debutants in the format from the start of 2017 - the opportunity failed to come knocking at the Pandya brother’s house one another time. Krunal Pandya had the X-factor, played out of his skin and stood head and shoulders above the rest, yet failed to make it to the national team.

That said, 2017 was his turnaround year, and it was probably asked of him to continue his exceptional form for a while. Whatever it was, the opening game of the 2018 IPL between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede showed that all was well with Pandya's career graph.

The prelude

Rohit Sharma started off with a hat-trick of misses against that Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 hero, Deepak Chahar. The ball was banana swinging and Chahar consistently beat the Mumbai skipper’s bat while Shane Watson sent down a tight opening spell.

The wickets of Evin Lewis and Rohit Sharma pegged Mumbai back early and it needed the elegance of Suryakumar Yadav and the flamboyance of Ishan Kishan to resurrect the Mumbai Indians. Yet with an array of slower bowlers up their sleeve, Chennai restricted the flow of runs.

Yadav brought out his first-class form into play and dug into Chennai's bowling with some classy drives and back-foot punches. Kishan, on the other hand, was comfortable playing second-fiddle to the rampant Yadav and the partnership flourishsed, though it did not quite take off.

The introduction of Mark Wood into the attack had the Indian youngsters in trouble. The skiddish Englishman sent down some real pacy bouncers that eluded their pulls and all of a sudden it seemed like despite a strong 78 run stand, Chennai were inching ahead.

When the duo departed, Mumbai had racked up a mere 113 runs in close to 15 overs. As Krunal Pandya walked in to join his younger and more celebrated brother in the middle, all eyes were on the brother whose breathtaking striking skills was a banked upon factor for Mumbai Indians.

What did Krunal do?

Those who aren't too aware of Krunal's ability to start hammering from ball one would probably need to glance at this bit of stat.

His strike rate in the first 10 balls in the IPL is a fabulous 141.5 (minimum 150 runs). That's the fourth best strike rate in the first 10 balls by any IPL player and the best by an Indian.

The southpaw was into his groove ball one, driving Imrah Tahir through covers for a fabulous boundary. When Mark Wood returned to the attack, the elder Pandya brother seemed set to take him on.

A slower delivery was deposited over mid-wicket first up before glancing one to fine-leg for four and then driving through covers for another. 19 runs came off the over that turned around Mumbai's innings.

When Wood returned another time, you could almost see the smirking smile Krunal had behind his helmet. 17 runs were slammed as Mumbai stormed back into the contest.

From his arrival to the end of the innings, Mumbai made 52 runs in 32 balls. Krunal made 41 of those in 22 balls. This with his more acknowledged, exemplary brother at the other end watching the show he put up.

What the future holds

Mumbai Indians might have lost to one man, Dwyane Bravo, but the signs are promising. Krunal Pandya's blitz shows that he could yet again be their floating batsman with a clear mind and plenty of firepower.

He did not even turn his arm over in the first match, possibly a mistake on Rohit Sharma's part but will definitely come into picture as a bowler as the season goes on.

His multi utility, fearless batting, electric fielding and tight overs could catapult him straight into the Indian side. With performances like these, Axar Patel and Washington Sundar have plenty to worry about.