CHENNAI, India (AFP) — High gamers from world wide have gathered for the 14th Indian Premier League (IPL), which began on Friday for a 52-day Twenty20 extravaganza performed in empty stadiums due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Right here, AFP highlights 5 stars who could possibly be key in stopping Mumbai Indians successful for a third-straight yr:
Virat Kohli (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
The India captain and prolific batsman is pivotal to Royal Challengers Bangalore’s hopes of successful a maiden IPL title.
He led his workforce to an improved displaying final yr with 466 runs in 15 matches as Bangalore made the play-offs within the United Arab Emirates.
However with critics, together with former India opener Gautam Gambhir, suggesting there must be a altering of the guard at Bangalore, ‘King’ Kohli, who mentioned he’ll open the batting in T20 Internationals and within the IPL, will likely be decided to shine forward of the T20 World Cup later this yr.
Ben Stokes (Rajasthan Royals)
The England all-rounder has proved his value throughout all codecs and his kind with bat and ball will likely be essential because the inconsistent Rajasthan attempt to comply with up their inaugural IPL triumph in 2008.
Royals, who will likely be captained by India’s Sanju Samson this season, completed backside of the eight-team desk final yr, with Stokes solely becoming a member of the workforce late as a consequence of his late father’s sickness.
He scored 285 runs, together with an unbeaten 107, in eight matches for a workforce that ran cold and hot.
Royals’ new director of cricket Kumar Sangakkara believes Stokes is “precisely the kind of participant any aspect would need”.
Steve Smith (Delhi Capitals)
A brand new begin awaits Australia’s Steve Smith after he was purchased by Delhi Capitals for $300,000 on this yr’s public sale following his launch from Rajasthan Royals.
Smith, who captained Royals final yr, may discover it powerful to make the beginning XI in a power-packed Delhi line-up together with skipper Rishabh Pant, Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw and Shimron Hetmyer.
However coach Ricky Ponting insists Smith, a prolific top-order batsman who has amassed 2,333 runs in 95 IPL matches, will likely be hungry to carry out in a T20 World Cup yr.
“I believe the truth that he is been launched from the franchise that he is been at for a very long time will make him a bit hungry as effectively this yr,” Ponting mentioned on the Cricket Australia web site.
He added Smith’s probability to play can be within the high three of the batting order.
Chris Morris (Rajasthan Royals)
The Royals broke the financial institution for the South African all-rounder within the IPL public sale because the 33-year-old grew to become the most costly participant in IPL historical past at $2.25 million.
Morris, who has claimed 80 wickets and scored 551 runs in 70 IPL video games, admitted the value “blew my thoughts”.
“There’s a little little bit of added stress, however the stress that you just get from a price ticket would not have an effect on you on a cricket subject on the finish of the day,” Morris mentioned.
Chris Gayle (Punjab Kings)
Nonetheless a drive in Twenty20 cricket on the age of 41, the veteran stays a significant a part of the Punjab Kings’ batting arsenal.
The self-styled “Universe Boss” exploded final season after making the aspect halfway by way of the match to hit three half-centuries in seven matches.
Punjab missed out on a play-offs spot, however the harmful left-hander, who’s concentrating on his third T20 World Cup title with West Indies later this yr, mentioned he believed the change within the workforce’s title from Kings XI Punjab would additionally deliver them a change in luck.
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