Chris Gayle has the ability to take the game away from the opposition ranks © PTI
The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 is set to begin with the defending champions Mumbai Indians taking on the Kolkata Knight Riders. While the clash marks beginning of yet another grilling IPL season amid the controversies that surfaced last year, the fans of the tournament and the format would nevertheless would be looking forward to another event full of good batting displays. Devarchit Varma lists down the top batsmen to watch out for in the IPL 7.…
The Twenty20 format may be full of uncertainties and unpredictability, but one aspect that it promises — especially when the tournament none other than the IPL being played in the Indian subcontinent — that the batsmen would revel on flat decks. In the past editions of the tournament batsmen from around the world have mesmerised with stroke play, and the IPL 2014 would be no different. Let’s take a look at who are the top batsmen to watch out for, in the upcoming edition of IPL:
Chris Gayle (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
Chris Gayle may have had a disappointing run in the recent past, but in the IPL, one would always expect the explosive West Indies batsman to come out firing on all cylinders. Gayle enjoys being in a happy camp of the RCB side, and the responsibility of leading the batting attack is something he has enjoyed in the last couple of seasons. Gayle has scored four centuries in the IPL — one each in the previous three editions. The RCB fans would once again expect the left-hander to carry on the show.
Virat Kohli (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
Virat Kohli may have been given the additional responsibility of leading the Royal Challengers Bangalore, but there seems to be nothing that could stop this young Indian batsman. Apart from the captaincy responsibilities, whenever Kohli would walk out to bat, he would be eased by the fact that there are couple of more match-winners in the Royal Challengers Bangalore’s ranks and he would thus enjoy the necessary freedom to play his game. Kohli has been one of the consistent performers for RCB and also one of the top-run getters in the tournament, and keeping his current form in mind, one would expect the right-handed batsman to excel in this edition as well.
AB de Villiers with his innovative shots can shine brightly in IPL 7 © IANS
AB de Villiers (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
If there is one batsman who can be both innovative as well as devastating in the T20 format, it has to be AB de Villiers. What makes the Royal Challengers Bangalore an extremely dangerous side in this IPL is not that they have good attacking batsmen, but they have a lot of them. De Villiers has been excellent in this regards for any side he plays for, and his presence in the middle-order would be a boon for them. The right-handed batsman can turn around the match on its head in just a matter of couple of deliveries, and this is his and Royal Challengers Bangalore’s strength.
Dinesh Karthik (Delhi Daredevils)
All eyes will be on Dinesh Karthik in this IPL season. Even though he may have failed to make a permanent place for himself in the Indian team, Karthik remains a hot property in the IPL and that was evident in the IPL 2014 auction in February this year. Karthik will be one of the key batsmen for the Delhi Daredevils along with their captain Kevin Pietersen and Ross Taylor, and he would be expected to score heavily. Karthik can be both — an aggressor as well as a defender — according to the need of the situation. He has had a good run in the Indian domestic cricket, and he would be eager to carry the good form in the IPL and strengthen his case for India comeback.
Kevin Pietersen (Delhi Daredevils)
For the moment, IPL is everything for Kevin Pietersen. He has been discarded by England. Pietersen would be captaining the Delhi Daredevils in the IPL 2014, and he will try to lead the side by example. The right-handed batsman is one of the most dangerous batsmen in the tournament and this makes the Daredevils a team to watch out for. Moreover, Pietersen could be thinking to prove a point after the unceremonious exit from the England setup.
Glenn Maxwell (Kings XI Punjab)
Glenn Maxwell can hit the ball clean and hard as anyone else in the game. He is an aggressive batsman and his style of play makes Maxwell a certainty in the Kings XI Punjab’s playing eleven. Maxwell has proved his mettle in the Indian conditions and he would be could indeed emerge as one of the most dangerous batsmen in the seventh edition of IPL.
Rohit Sharma has been a consistent performer for Mumbai Indians © AFP
Rohit Sharma (Mumbai Indians)
This IPL is the perfect platform for Rohit Sharma to launch himself into the different orbit al together. In the last IPL, after Ricky Ponting stood aside from the leadership of the side, Rohit took the charge of Mumbai Indians and lead them to the title win. After that, Rohit became a regular face in the Indian side across formats and even made his Test debut. Rohit had a good run in the World T20 2014 and this IPL will be another platform to stamp his authority with the bat and his leadership skills.
Michael Hussey (Mumbai Indians)
If Mumbai Indians made a mistake by not retaining the likes of Maxwell and Mitchell Johnson in their side, they hit the bulls eye when the roped in the veteran Australian batsmen Michael Hussey, who is one of the most successful IPL batsmen ever. The left-handed batsman automatically occupies the slot of an opener, and his batting style suits perfectly to the reigning champions Mumbai Indians.
Ajinkya Rahane (Rajasthan Royals)
Even though Ajinkya Rahane will miss the on-field guidance of his guru Rahul Dravid, he has matured enough to carry on the good work that he has done for the Rajasthan Royals. The experience garnered in the international circuit would certainly benefit the young right-hand batsman, and IPL 2014 is nothing but an opportunity for him to consolidate his position in the cricket world. He can be aggressive at times as well as can drop the anchor when needed, and Rajasthan will count on him to provide strong starts at the top.
Aaron Finch (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
Aaron Finch’s career graph has been on the rise in the last one or two years. He did well for his last franchise Pune Warriors India, and Finch would be more than happy to team up with his Australian teammate David Warner for opening the innings for the Sunrisers Hyderabad. Finch has been one of the prolific scorers in the T20 format in the past couple of months for Australia and his form will be crucial for the Sunrisers Hyderabad in this IPL.
Shikhar Dhawan (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
Last in the list would be the dashing Indian opener, who has the potential of destroying any kind of bowling attack on his day. He was left out by Indian team in the last couple of matches in the ICC World T20 2014, and Dhawan has no time to lose but to get going in the IPL 2014. Dhawan would be captaining the Sunrisers Hyderabad, and the presence of big hitters like Finch, Warner and even Darren Sammy will provide him freedom to play his natural game.
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(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)