From the very beginning, the Indian Premier League (IPL) has been as much about the impact of big names as it has been about unveiling talent. What started as a tournament where youngsters were supposed to grow and learn by gaining invaluable insights from established international players, has now transformed into a much more significant event which helps even big international names to discover new aspects to their game.
Each and every season of the previous 10 editions of the cash-rich league has seen a lot of big stars putting up power-packed performances for their respective franchises. Ben Stokes in 2017, Virat Kohli and David Warner in 2016 and many other players have lit up the tournament in a grand manner in every season. Let us have a look at some of the stars who can influence the tournament this year:
1. Chris Lynn (Team: Kolkata Knight Riders; auction price: Rs 9.6 crore)
There has been a lot of speculation regarding his availability for this edition of the tournament ever since he got ruled out of Pakistan Super League (PSL) with a shoulder injury once again. There were a lot of question marks over his recovery time. However, KKR MD and CEO Venky Mysore has confirmed that there are high chances that the swashbuckling Australian batsman will be available for KKR’s first match of the tournament, against the Royal Challengers Bangalore on April. His statement has brough back smiles on the faces of the KKR fans who were disappointed with the star player’s possible unavailabilty.
Lynn showed superb form with the bat in the previous edition of the IPL, amassing 295 runs in seven matches at an average of almost 50 and a massive strike rate of 180.98. His Big Bash League (BBL) 2017 returns of 148 runs in five matches at an average of 37 and strike rate of 162.64 again speak volumes about the impact he makes as a T20 batsman. Although both of his outings during these two seasons were cut short with shoulder injuries, Lynn will look to go as far as possible in this edition of the IPL for his franchise. He will end up making a huge impact even if he plays in even half of the matches for KKR.
2. Andrew Tye (Team: Kings XI Punjab; auction price: Rs 7.2 crore)
Tye is unarguably the best T20 bowler in the world at present. A wide variety of deliveries in his armoury, deceptive changes in pace and ability to bowl the yorker on a consistent basis make him a tricky customer for the batsmen to handle.
Representing the Gujarat Lions in the previous edition, Tye picked up 12 wickets, including a hat-trick, in six matches, at an average of 11.75 and economy rate of 6.71 before getting injured. He even bettered his exploits in this edition of the BBL, picking up 16 wickets, again including a hat-trick in six matches, at a scintillating average of only 12, even though it came at an economy rate of 8.11. But his eye-catching strike rate of 8.9 again spoke volumes about the impact he makes. He continued his wicket-taking spree even for the Australian team as he picked up 10 wickets in the Trans-Tasman T20I Tri-series at a superb average of 17.40.
KXIP have really strengthened their bowling line-up this year by roping Tye in. He will be equally effective during all stages of the game giving them a much-needed balance in their bowling attack. He is definitely going to be the lynchpin of the KXIP bowling unit, massively influencing how far they progress in the tournament.
3. Virat Kohli (Team: Royal Challengers Bangalore; retained for Rs 17 crore)
The Indian skipper is one of the few big international names who are expected to make an impact everytime they take the field. His name seems quite an obvious one in this list, and he will have bigger things to prove this season considering RCB’s poor outing last season.
A return of 308 runs in 10 matches at an average of 30.80 seems pretty ordinary for Kohli’s 'superhuman' abilities. However, that was as much as he could amass in IPL 2017 as compared to his record-breaking tally of 973 runs in 2016. Both of those seasons were highly contrasting for both Kohli and RCB. His exploits with the bat at an average of 81.08, including four centuries and seven fifties in the 2016 edition played a massive role in his team's journey to the final. But three times less the returns of 2016 next year meant RCB finished at bottom of the table.
So the skipper’s impact is pretty much evident here. He will look to turn things around this time around for RCB with the willow in his hands.
4. Mitchell Starc (Team: Kolkata Knight Riders; auction price: Rs 9.4 crore)
The Australian speedster was quite a hot property in the IPL auctions this year and he was ultimately picked up by KKR for a whopping sum of Rs 9.4 crore.
Starc hasn't played in the IPL for the past couple of years. He broke his million-dollar association with RCB last year in order to freshen up for international duties after recovering from injury. He had missed the whole tournament in 2016 due to injury.
However, he had shown what he can do in his first couple of seasons with RCB, in 2014 and 2015. Over the two seasons he picked up a total of 34 wickets in 27 matches at an impressive average of 20.38, economy of 7.16 and strike rate of 17.05.
The year 2015 was particularly fruitful for himself when he racked up 20 wickets in 13 matches at a scintillating average of 14.55, economy rate of 6.76 and strike rate of 12.90.
His return to the IPL is good both for himself and the league. And KKR will be looking for equally effective performances from him as he delivered for RCB.
5. AB de Villiers (Team: Royal Challengers Bangalore; retained for Rs 11 crore)
Like Kohli, de Villiers didn't have the best of times with the bat last year as was evident from the results of the team. He only accumulated 216 runs in nine matches at an average of 27 and strike rate of 132.51, both of which are way below his normal standards.
When RCB made it to the final in 2016, he was one of the reasons alongside Kohli who made that happen with his impactful performances. He amassed a total of 687 runs in 16 matches at a mammoth average of 52.84 and a scintillating strike rate of 168.79.
Although he came nowhere near emulating the same results last year, he will look to make up for that this year. He is not in the best of shapes as far as his fitness levels are concerned. However, he has shown that he has been in good form, racking up consistent fifties in the Test matches against India and Australia. Come IPL 2018, he will once again look to produce the same mesmerising batting performances as before.