Top players from all over the world have gathered for the 14th Indian Premier League, which starts on Friday for the 52-day extravagance Twenty20 played in empty stadiums due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The AFP here highlights five stars that could be key in stopping the Mumbai Indians ’victory for the third year in a row:
– Virat Kohli (Royal Challengers Bangalore) –
The Indian captain and prolific hitter is crucial to Bangalore’s Royal Challengers hopes of winning their first IPL title.
He led his team to an improved display last year with 466 runs in 15 matches while Bangalore played the playoffs in the United Arab Emirates.
But with critics, including former Indian opener Gautam Gambhir, who suggest a change of guard should be made in Bangalore, ‘King’ Kohli, who has said he will open strikes at international T20 companies and the IPL, will be determined to shine. T20 World Cup later this year.
– Ben Stokes (Rajasthan Royals) –
The English versatile player has proven his worth in all formats, and his form with the bat and ball will be crucial as the inconsistent Rajasthan strives to follow their 2008 IPL inaugural triumph.
The Royals, which will be led by Indian Sanja Samson this season, finished at the bottom of the table with eight teams last year, and Stokes joined the team only late due to the illness of his late father.
He scored 285 runs, including 107 undefeated, in eight matches for a team that ran hot and cold.
Royal’s new cricket director Kumar Sangakkara believes the Stokes are “exactly the type of player any side would want”.
– Steve Smith (Delhi Capitals) –
Australian Steve Smith is waiting for a fresh start after being bought by Delhi Capitals for $ 300,000 at this year’s auction following his release from Rajasthan Royals.
Smith, who was captain of the Royals last year, could find it difficult to make the starting XI in a strong lineup from Delhi, including skipper Rishabh Pant, Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw and Shimron Hetmyer.
But coach Ricky Ponting insists Smith, a prolific top-ranked batter who has amassed 2,333 runs in 95 IPL matches, will be hungry to perform in the T20 World Cup year.
“I think the fact that he was released from a franchise where he’s been for a long time will be a bit hungry this year as well,” Ponting said on the Cricket Australia website.
He added that Smith’s chance to play will be in the top three hitting lines.
– Chris Morris (Rajasthan Royals) –
Royals broke into a bank for a South African versatile player at an IPL auction as the 33-year-old became the most expensive player in IPL history with $ 2.25 million.
Morris, who took 80 goalkeepers and scored 551 runs in 70 IPL games, admitted that the price “delighted” me.
“There’s a little bit of extra pressure, but the pressure you have because of the price doesn’t affect you on the cricket court at the end of the day,” Morris said.
– Chris Gayle (Punjab Kings) –
Still a force in Twenty20 cricket at the age of 41, the veteran remains an important part of the punjab kings ’punching arsenal.
The self-proclaimed “Universe Boss” exploded last season after passing the middle of the tournament and hitting three and a half centuries in seven matches.
Punjab missed the playoff spot, but the destructive left-hander, who is aiming for his third T20 World Cup title with the West Indies later this year, said he believes a change of team name from Kings XI Punjab will bring them a change in luck.
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