Twenty20 cricket is often defined by moments of individual magic and the Indian Premier League is no different. With that in mind, we look at five players we think will turn games on their head at IPL 8.
A solid batsman who can adapt to the situation. He has a wide repertoire of shots and packs lot of power in his pull and slog-sweeps while executing the cuts and cover drives with finesse. The 23-year-old comes into his second IPL season on the back of his career-best knock of 328 in the domestic Ranji Trophy final for his state team Karnataka. In fact, he has been instrumental in his team’s dominant performance in the local circuit. After an impressive show in his debut season, Nair is in the right frame of mind to extend that showing in IPL-8.
Leg-spinner, lower-order batsman
2014 record: Matches 14, Wickets 15, Economy 7.42; Runs 42, SR 144.82
Overall IPL record: Matches 27, Wickets 26, Economy 7.08; Runs 127, SR 110.43
X-factor: An effective leg-spinner who has a knack of taking big scalps.
Since becoming the richest uncapped Indian player when he was picked by Hyderabad last season, the 27-year-old wrist spinner has taken rapid strides and made it to the national Twenty20, one-day and Test teams. Sharma’s deceptive action and ability to spin the ball at high speeds make him a dangerous bowler, irrespective of the surface. He is a handy lower-order batsman, who can clear the ropes and is also a safe fielder.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Opening batsman, wicketkeeper
2014 record: Matches 16, Runs 660, SR 137.78
Overall IPL record: Matches 107, Runs 2632, SR 127.21
X-factor: A hard-hitting batsman who can also keep wickets.
The India international has been in and out of the side for a long time but having added wicketkeeping skills to his arsenal, Uthappa has become a crucial member of the team. He has scord more than 400 runs in the last three editions of the IPL and if he fires once again this season, he could be in line for a national call-up. For now, Uthappa will look to keep up the good work and help the Knight Riders first team to be crowned champions three times in a row.
Kings XI Punjab
Cost: ($1 million)
2014 record: Matches 16, Runs 552, SR 187.75; Wicket 1
Overall IPL record: Matches 21, Runs 594, SR 178.91; Wkts 2
X-factor: World-class all-rounder, fresh from a World Cup win.
Maxwell must be on cloud nine after helping Australia win the World Cup title at home. He came up with some sensational knocks lower down the order and bowled commendably in the absence of a frontline Aussie spinner. Kings XI Punjab will be hoping he brings that red-hot form to Indian shores and lights up the tournament with his towering shots. Maxwell’s bowling has improved substantially and his fielding has always been top notch. All in all, the perfect T20 package.
Chennai Super Kings
2014 record: Matches 14, Runs 405, 121.62
Overall IPL record: Matches 62, Runs 1644, SR 122.77
X-factor: Veteran of the tournament and in the form of his life Another players coming into the tournament on the back of a brilliant World Cup.
McCullum took the world by storm with his attacking batting and leadership and the Kiwi star will be in no mood to slow down anytime soon. The Super Kings will bank on his attacking play at the top of the order and also his leadership qualities that won over everyone during the World Cup. Even though he is 33, he is still one of the finest fielders in world cricket, which will definitely boost the Chennai side.
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