IPL 2020 is very nearly back, and with it comes a host of cricket superstars, the big guns if you will, of the Indian Premier League. Aadya Sharma casts his eye over them.
This wasn’t easy. Listed below are some of the IPL’s greatest players, all of whom will be featuring in IPL 2020, the tournament’s 13th season, which will begin in the UAE on Saturday, September 19.
This list comprises the who’s who of the T20 game. And no, it’s not all restricted to players from Mumbai Indians, the most successful side in the tournament with four titles, or Chennai Super Kings, the most consistent.
In fact, this list is made up of players from across teams and eras. Of course, narrowing down a string of IPL legends into a list of ten was one tricky task. A couple of pull-outs ahead of IPL 2020 really helped our cause, though.
Presenting, the IPL 2020 big guns:
David Warner [Sunrisers Hyderabad]
4,706 runs @43.17, strike-rate: 142.39
The hallmark of consistency, Warner has been piling on IPL runs ever since he moved to SRH in 2014, and has become their go-to run-machine. A one-year gap in 2018 did little to dim his appetite for runs, and he came back to a resounding, run-filled season last year.
His average in the last three seasons has been 60.57, 58.27 and 69.20 – an astounding 21 fifties and two centuries included. A return to captaincy duties will give him all the more fuel to disprove any detractors.
MS Dhoni [Chennai Super Kings]
4,432 runs @42.20, strike-rate: 137.85; 98 catches, 38 stumpings
For over a year now, fans have had to revisit old clips to get a hit of Dhoni, while the former India captain went through a self-imposed sabbatical. The fact that Dhoni is now a retired international cricketer further intensifies the spotlight on the wicketkeeper-batsman, who will lead CSK for an eleventh season in IPL 2020.
MS Dhoni and Shane Watson look in red-hot form 🔥
— Wisden India (@WisdenIndia) September 13, 2020
His return with CSK in 2018 marked a distinct second boom in his IPL career – he’s averaged 75.83 and 83.20 in the last two seasons, striking the ball anywhere between the mid-140s and 150s. With the pressure of international cricket off his shoulders, it remains to be seen if he can carry a Suresh Raina-less CSK to the title for the fourth time.
Shane Watson [Chennai Super Kings]
3,575 runs @31.08, strike-rate: 139.53; 92 wickets @29.15
At 39, and four full years into his international retirement, Watson continues to be one of the pillars of CSK’s ageing army. A big-match player if there ever was one, Watson’s unbeaten hundred anchored CSK’s final win in 2018, and his heroic 80 in last year’s finale left them at the cusp of another.
While his bowling has faded, Watson continues to be the compact, enterprising opener that he has been for years, first for Rajasthan Royals and now for CSK, accumulating over 3,500 IPL runs. One of just four players to hit more than four IPL centuries, CSK will be banking on his brisk batting style at the top to, once again, give them the all-important impetus at the top.
Chris Gayle [Kings XI Punjab]
4,484 runs @41.13, strike-rate: 151.02
At nearly 41, IPL 2020 may well end up being the final edition of the tournament for the ‘Universe Boss’. If that is indeed the case, trust him to go out in style, even if it means batting on one leg. IPL’s ultimate record-smasher, Gayle might not be his authoritative self from the early 2010s, but he can still pack a punch with his early onslaughts – he averaged 40+ in the last two seasons, with a century and seven fifties.
The team composition could prevent him from playing all games for Punjab this year, but there’s not many who can dim his lofty all-time run-tally, the sixth-highest aggregate overall.
AB de Villiers [Royal Challengers Bangalore]
4,395 runs @39.95, strike-rate: 151.23
Overseas players have come and gone, but de Villiers has stayed put at Royal Challengers Bangalore, forming one-half of an iconic pairing with Virat Kohli. If Kohli is the engine of the franchise, de Villiers is the propeller, catalysing many come-from-behind wins and leading multiple rescue missions with his imperious, convention-defying batting style.
— Royal Challengers Bangalore (@RCBTweets) September 14, 2020
While the quiet chatter around his international comeback continues to linger in the background, de Villiers, the T20 globetrotter, returns for his 10th season at RCB, where he has amassed the majority of his 4,395 IPL runs, including three centuries and 33 fifties.
Virat Kohli [Royal Challengers Bangalore]
5,412 runs @37.84, strike-rate: 131.61
From a rookie among big names to one of the tournament’s biggest driving forces, Kohli has had a long and mostly fulfilling IPL journey. And yet, alongside Kohli’s IPL record lies RCB’s big, vacant trophy cabinet. The elusive quest to lift that trophy reaches its 12th year this year. On the personal front, Kohli has done little wrong, currently sitting atop the IPL run-charts with five centuries – his rich run of form in the tournament coinciding with his remarkable exploits for India.
But Kohli’s IPL story will always seem incomplete without the trophy. As the team chant goes,
ee sala cup namde [This year, the trophy is ours].
More intense, more hungry than ever before, and more balanced, Virat Kohli speaks about his progress after two weeks of practice in the UAE ahead of Dream 11 IPL 2020. pic.twitter.com/l2ovA1IgGf
— Royal Challengers Bangalore (@RCBTweets) September 12, 2020
Rohit Sharma [Mumbai Indians]
4,898 runs @31.60, strike-rate: 130.82
IPL’s most successful captain, Rohit’s stellar leadership tends to sometimes eclipse his consistent batting feats. He is likely to become just the third entrant to the 5,000-run club this year, a good chunk of those runs coming as he led Mumbai to four title. Be it as an opener, or a solid No.4, Rohit’s batting is typified by his sound timing, which when combined with his gap-finding proficiency makes for a deadly combination. The tournament’s switch to UAE’s flat tracks might be just the perfect setting for him to shine with the bat.
📚 The Rohit Sharma slog-sweep tutorial 👇
— Mumbai Indians (@mipaltan) September 2, 2020
Sunil Narine [Kolkata Knight Riders]
122 wickets @23.31; 771 runs @17.52, strike-rate: 168.34
Of the many facets of Narine, the T20 superstar, his crafty off-breaks lie at the forefront – he’s picked up six IPL four-wicket hauls, the joint-most, at a measly economy of 6.67. The wicket-snaring abilities have dimmed since he revised his bowling action, but he’s made up for it with a wealthy addition to his skill-set – his madcap T20 batting.
On UAE’s slow, low pitches, expect Narine to weave his magic with the host of variations in his arsenal, helping KKR clamp down on the run flow upfront, or in the middle overs.
Andre Russell [Kolkata Knight Riders]
1,400 runs @33.33, strike-rate: 186.41; 55 wickets @27.96
His ferocious bat swing has no equal – Russell is regarded as the archetypal T20 finisher. After quiet seasons from 2012 to 2014, his boisterous batting style has been matched with remarkable efficiency, giving the IPL some of its best cameos.
In the last four years, his strike-rate has ranged anywhere between 164.91 and 204.81, justifying his title as arguably the top T20 cricketer of the world. In fact, David Hussey feels he can blast a double century if he bats at No.3 – it remains to be seen if his potential promotion up the order helps KKR win their third title.
Dwayne Bravo [Chennai Super Kings]
147 wickets @24.80; 1,483 runs@23,17, strike-rate: 128.28
He might be a shadow of his former, more prolific self of the early 2010s, but Bravo remains an integral part of CSK. The quintessential T20 all-rounder, who recently became the first to bag 500 wickets in the format, Bravo has taken 147 scalps at IPL, a majority of them under Dhoni at Chennai.
A useful lower-order batsman and a gun fielder, Bravo, the two-time Purple Cap winner, has proclaimed that he has a ‘new slower ball’ ready for the upcoming season. Irrepressible at 36.