It’s that time again. The 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is less than a week away, and fans are in for a visual treat with all the eight teams set to entertain for the next two months.
Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Virat Kohli and many others are some names that come to your mind when it comes to explosive batting, and this time, too, a lot will be expected from both experienced campaigners as well as newcomers.
Ahead of the tournament that starts on 19 September, we take a look at 10 such batsmen to watch out for:
KL Rahul (Kings XI Punjab)
Following Ravichandran Ashwin’s departure to Delhi Capitals during the IPL auction in December last year, KL Rahul was named captain for the upcoming edition, with Mike Hesson as head coach and Anil Kumble as Director of Cricket. And despite KXIP failing to reach the playoffs since 2014, the year when the league was partially held in UAE, Rahul has enjoyed a consistent run over the last two seasons-scoring 659 runs and 593 runs in 2018 and 2019 respectively, also ending up as Punjab’s leading run-scorer in these two editions.
In January this year, Rahul was brought in as India’s wicket-keeper during the first ODI against Australia in Mumbai after Rishabh Pant suffered a concussion. This led to him donning the keeper’s gloves for the remaining series as well as the T20Is and ODIs against New Zealand that followed.
In T20Is this year, he has aggregated 323 runs from eight matches, at an average of 53.83, which is even higher than Virat Kohli’s overall T20I average (50.80).
Jonny Bairstow (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
IPL 2019 was England wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow’s first-ever outing in the tournament, and he made an instant impact, scoring 445 runs from 10 matches at a strike rate of 157.24. Sunrisers Hyderabad’s home match against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) was an exhilarating contest, as Bairstow forged a record 185-run stand for the first wicket.
Not only was that the highest-ever opening partnership, but also, this was the match where Bairstow brought up his maiden IPL ton. That was their third consecutive century plus opening stand, and if SRH are to win the title this time around, the duo of Bairstow and David Warner will be undoubtedly a key factor.
Tom Banton (Kolkata Knight Riders)
An exciting young prospect in the upcoming edition, England’s Tom Banton recently caught the eyes of fans when he smashed a 42-ball 71 during the rain-affected first T20I. Banton also lit up the 2019 Vitality T20 Blast in England, where he amassed 549 runs with four fifties and one century. He ended up as the tournament’s second highest run-scorer, behind Somerset teammate Babar Azam (578).
In the IPL auction, the wicket-keeper batsman was sold for his base price of Rs 1 crore to Dinesh Karthik-led Kolkata Knight Riders.
Shreyas Iyer (Delhi Capitals)
Delhi Capitals skipper Shreyas Iyer showcased his leadership skills in IPL 2019, as he guided the team to their first playoffs in seven years. This was, in fact, the first season after when DC (then Delhi Daredevils) endured an eighth-place finish in 2018 — a season where Shreyas took over as captaincy midway through the tournament from Gautam Gambhir.
In his five seasons since making his IPL debut in 2015, Shreyas has amassed more than 400 runs on three of those occasions, and he aggregated 463 runs last season — his most in one edition of the tournament. His only forgettable season came in 2016, when he scored just 30 runs in six matches.
With the experienced Ashwin and Ajinkya Rahane in the side, not only will DC eye their maiden IPL crown, but also could be a turning point in Iyer’s career if numbers are to go by.
Yashasvi Jaiswal (Rajasthan Royals)
Rajasthan Royals are well-known for recruiting young talents like Sanju Samson. One such young prospect is Yashasvi Jaiswal, who played an instrumental role in India’s road to the final during the ICC U-19 World Cup earlier this year.
The Royals, in fact, had a hard time battling it out with Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab in the auction for the 18-year-old, but eventually sealed the deal for a mammoth price of Rs 2.40 crore.
Jaiswal, who hails from the village of Suriya in Uttar Pradesh, caught the attention of many after his heroics in the U-19 World Cup- where he scored four fifties and a century (with the century coming against arch-rivals Pakistan). Even in the final against Bangladesh, when India kept losing wickets on the other side, Jaiswal stood tall and scored 88 as India struggled to 177. The Boys in Blue eventually went on to lose the final, giving Bangladesh their maiden ICC trophy.
Shubman Gill (Kolkata Knight Riders)
Time and again, Shubman Gill has proved that he is an influential player in Kolkata Knight Riders setup. Before the coronavirus pandemic halted sports across the globe, Gill was in sublime form, registering scores of 83, 204 and 136 for India A against New Zealand A during the team’s tour to Kiwiland.
Gill was one of the host of players KKR retained, and might as well play an effective role potentially opening the batting now that Chris Lynn has been bought by Mumbai Indians.
Over the last two editions, Gill has aggregated 499 runs at a strike rate of 132.36.
Chris Lynn (Mumbai Indians)
Talk about explosive batsmen, and Australian star Chris Lynn could be one of the names that comes to your mind. KKR’s loss Is certainly MI’s gain.
Lynn was bought by Mumbai Indians for his base price of Rs 2 crore, ending his prolonged stay with KKR.
The addition of Lynn to the Mumbai setup adds depth to their batting, and more options for opening the batting along with Quinton de Kock. Lynn has aggregated 896 runs over last two seasons he played for KKR, scoring seven fifties during these two years.
Lynn has the potential to give his side an explosive start, and maybe even ease the pressure for the middle and lower-order batsman.
Alex Carey (Delhi Capitals)
His T20I record for Australia may not seem impressive, but Alex Carey has been a consistent performer for Adelaide strikers in the Big Bash League. He has aggregated 1,163 runs from 35 games at a strike rate of 129.22 for the Strikers, and his best-ever season came during 2017-18, when he scored 443 runs at a strike rate of 141.53. That was, in fact, the season when Adelaide Strikers clinched their maiden BBL title.
Carey has overall played 30 T20Is, and has scored only 176 runs at a mere average of 12.57.
Despite his poor T20I form, his ODI records read much better, with 894 runs from 37 matches at an average 33.11.
Suryakumar Yadav (Mumbai Indians)
Suryakumar Yadav has been an influential player for MI over the past few years. The last couple of years in the league has been crucial for him, having been given the opening batsman’s role in 2018. He went on to score 512 runs in that edition, including four fifties. The following year, he continued his brilliant show with the bat, registering 424 runs with two fifties to his name.
Suryakumar also played every match in KKR's IPL victory during the 2014 campaign. However, he has evolved as a game-changing batsman in the MI setup, and has been a permanent face in their playing XI.
Much like Lynn, Suryakumar adds some explosive firepower when it comes to batting, and has the ability to face any kind of delivery that comes his way.
Josh Philippe (RCB)
Australian wicketkeeper-batsman Josh Philippe has been one of the up and coming stars. The 23-year-old has made his name in the Big Bash League, and Philippe was crucial in Sydney Sixers’ triumph in the latest edition of the tournament — scoring 487 runs in 16 innings at a strike rate of 129.87.
Philippe is known for his impeccable ball timing with the full 360-degree angle shots, and he even showcased that in the ninth edition of BBL which concluded in February this year.
These performances even paved the way for Philippe to enter the Australian side for the ongoing limited-overs series against England, although he is yet to make his international debut.
He will be hoping to showcase more of the same as to boost his chances in the international arena.
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Pant, however, was still not comfortable when he did his first training session on Friday ahead of the Indian Premier League's (IPL) resumption.
With IPL 2021 set to resume from 19 September in the UAE, the KL Rahul-led Punjab Kings find themselves in the sixth spot on the table after three wins and five defeats.
With the win, the Capitals returned to the top of the table while the Royals moved down to the sixth spot.