New Delhi:It appears the Twenty20 format is for cricketers in their mid-30s, going by early performances in the the Indian Premier League in South Africa.
Australians Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist are both 37, but have dominated the opposition with their amazing power-hitting. Hayden is the tournament's leading scorer with 166 runs in three matches.
Indians Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble, and Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan are others who have made a strong statement for veterans with their match-winning displays.
Hayden smashed a 35-ball 65 to set up Chennai Super Kings' victory over Bangalore Royal Challengers, living up to his reputation as a destroyer of bowlers' line and length.
"Hayden played a great innings," said Chennai captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
"He plays so well down the ground and it became really tough for the bowlers to contain him. He was playing so well that I thought the only way to get his wicket was to run him out."
Gilchrist, a scientific hitter like Hayden, was not far behind his compatriot when he hammered a 45-ball 71 in Deccan Chargers' victory over Bangalore.
Dravid, 36, is considered more of a Test than Twenty20 batsman because of his sound technique and conventional approach, but has been performing as if to prove a point in the shortest version of the game.
He was named man of the match for his 48-ball 66 in Bangalore's win over defending champions Rajasthan Royals.
"You got to play some good cricket shots under these conditions," said Dravid, who is not even part of India's one-day and Twenty20 squads.
"You can't hit every ball here. Conditions were ideal for me and will help batsmen like me."
Tendulkar, the world's leading run-getter in Tests (12,773) and one-day internationals (16,684), turned 36 on Friday, but his appetite for runs remains insatiable in all forms of the game.
The batting superstar looked in excellent form in the tournament's opening match, scoring a 49-ball 59 in Mumbai Indians' victory over Chennai.
"This was probably my most satisfying Twenty20 innings," Tendulkar said, adding he had no plans to represent the country in the latest format.
"I backed out of the 2007 Twenty20 World Championships because my body was not 100 per cent. This Indian team has gelled quite beautifully as a unit and there's no need why I should be playing Twenty20 cricket."
Kumble, 38, was also not a member of India's Twenty20 championship-winning squad in South Africa under Dhoni's leadership, but has proved that class can never be ignored.
The leg-spinner lit up the IPL with a sensational 5-5 performance in Bangalore's victory over Shane Warne-led Rajasthan Royals.
Retired Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne, 39, and Sri Lankan off-spinner Muralitharan, 37, were other veterans to make a mark in the first week.
While Warne grabbed 2-18 against Bangalore on the opening day of the tournament, Muralitharan took 3-11 against the same opposition a few days later.