Cricket

IPL 2021: From Chris Gayle to Ben Stokes, five impact players to watch out in tournament

  • Agence France-Presse
  • April 8th, 2021
  • 14:16:01 IST

Top players from around the world have gathered for the 14th Indian Premier League, which starts on Friday for a 52-day Twenty20 extravaganza played in empty stadiums because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are five stars who could be key in stopping Mumbai Indians winning for a third straight year:

Virat Kohli (Royal Challengers Bangalore)

The India captain and prolific batsman is pivotal to Royal Challengers Bangalore's hopes of winning a maiden IPL title.

He led his team to an improved showing last year with 466 runs in 15 matches as Bangalore made the playoffs in the United Arab Emirates.

RCB skipper Virat Kohli was dismissed for single figures for a second consecutive game, ass his side struggled their way to 120-7. Sportzpics

File image of Virat Kohli. Sportzpics

But with critics, including former India opener Gautam Gambhir, suggesting there needs to be a changing of the guard at Bangalore, 'King' Kohli, who said he will open the batting in the IPL, will be determined to shine ahead of the T20 World Cup later this year.

Ben Stokes (Rajasthan Royals)

The England all-rounder has proved his worth across all formats and his form with bat and ball will be crucial as the inconsistent Rajasthan strive to follow up their inaugural IPL triumph in 2008.

Royals, who will be captained by India's Sanju Samson this season, finished bottom of the eight-team table last year, with Stokes only joining the team late due to his late father's illness.

File image of Ben Stokes. Sportzpics

File image of Ben Stokes. Sportzpics

He scored 285 runs, including an unbeaten 107, in eight matches for a team that ran hot and cold.

Royals' new director of cricket Kumar Sangakkara believes Stokes is "exactly the type of player any side would want".

Steve Smith (Delhi Capitals)

A new start awaits Australia's Steve Smith after he was bought by Delhi Capitals for $300,000 in this year's auction following his release from Rajasthan Royals.

Smith, who captained Royals last year, could find it tough to make the starting XI in a power-packed Delhi line-up including skipper Rishabh Pant, Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw and Shimron Hetmyer.

Steve Smith has a base price of Rs 2 crore.. Image: Sportzpics for BCCI

File image of Steve Smith. Sportzpics

But coach Ricky Ponting insists Smith, a prolific top-order batsman who has amassed 2,333 runs in 95 IPL matches, will be hungry to perform in a T20 World Cup year.

"I think the fact that he's been released from the franchise that he's been at for a long time will make him a bit hungry as well this year," Ponting said on the Cricket Australia website.

He added Smith's chance to play would be in the top three of the batting order.

Chris Morris (Rajasthan Royals)

The Royals broke the bank for the South African all-rounder in the IPL auction as the 33-year-old became the most expensive player in IPL history at $2.25 million.

Morris, who has claimed 80 wickets and scored 551 runs in 70 IPL games, admitted the price "blew my mind".

Chris Morris fetched a bid of Rs 16.25 crore from Rajasthan Royals at 2021 auction. Image: Sportzpics for BCCI

File image of Chris Morris. Sportzpics

"There is a little bit of added pressure, but the pressure that you get from a price tag doesn't affect you on a cricket field 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 a vital part of the Punjab Kings' batting arsenal.

The self-styled "Universe Boss" exploded last season after making the side midway through the tournament to hit three half-centuries in seven matches.

File image of Chris Gayle. Sportzpics

File image of Chris Gayle. Sportzpics

Punjab missed out on a play-offs spot, but the destructive left-hander, who is targeting his third T20 World Cup title with West Indies later this year, said he believed the change in the team's name from Kings XI Punjab would also bring them a change in luck.

Updated Date: April 08, 2021 14:16:01 IST

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

IPL 2021: Devdutt Padikkal rides on elegant power to conjure a century to remember
First Cricket News

IPL 2021: Devdutt Padikkal rides on elegant power to conjure a century to remember

In the entire last season, Padikkal had hit just eight sixes, albeit on the bigger grounds in the UAE. Yesterday alone, he hammered six of them, only one less than Royals managed in their entire innings.

IPL 2021 Photos: Devdutt Padikkal, Virat Kohli lead Royal Challengers Bangalore to massive win
First Cricket Photos

IPL 2021 Photos: Devdutt Padikkal, Virat Kohli lead Royal Challengers Bangalore to massive win

Check out photos from match 16 of IPL 2021 between RR and RCB which was held in Mumbai on Tuesday.

IPL 2021: Beleaguered Rajasthan Royals look to skipper Sanju Samson for inspiration against Delhi Capitals
First Cricket News

IPL 2021: Beleaguered Rajasthan Royals look to skipper Sanju Samson for inspiration against Delhi Capitals

While DC made a superb start under new captain Rishabh Pant, clinching a seven-wicket win over Chennai Super Kings in their opening contest, RR suffered a four-run defeat against Punjab Kings in a high-scoring match on Monday night.