With the player auction out of our way, the wheels for the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 are set in motion. The organizers are busy preparing the venue list and getting the modalities finalized, while the franchises are shuffling their packs to hit the ground running from session one. What better time than this to look at which players will be the most watched in IPL 2021!
1. Virat Kohli – Royal Challengers Bangalore
One of the most passionate captains (if not player) in world cricket, Kohli has a glaring gap in his immaculate CV – zero IPL titles! For someone who has scaled the peaks and is setting new benchmarks in world cricket, the absence of the glittering IPL trophy is definitely pinching.
Not that he doesn’t perform for the RCB – in fact, far from it. Together with AB de Villiers, Kohli has been a strong pillar for the Bengaluru team which has often won or lost around the duo. The RCB had assembled some impressive squads over the years, but the players often went missing! With most bases covered this year, the RCB have emerged as pre-tournament favourites. All eyes on Kohli to deliver!
2. Suresh Raina – Chennai Super Kings
No cricket lover needs an introduction to Raina, who is arguably an ‘IPL great’. With 5,368 runs (second only to Kohli) and an ability to churn important runs, Raina has been ever-present in the IPL. He is such an important cog in their wheel that when Raina returned to India last season without turning up for the Super Kings, it was as much a shock as surprise.
CSK eventually ended up seventh underlining Raina’s importance to their fortunes. This campaign will most probably see a hungry Raina ready to dispel doubts and lead his side back to where they belong!
3. Sanju Samson – Rajasthan Royals
One of the most stylist batsmen of the IPL, Samson has been an enigma for cricket lovers. Samson makes batting look easy before (almost always) getting out to innocuous deliveries. If national selection is a barometer to talent, then Samson has failed miserably to let his talent speak!
This could be a different campaign, though, with the youngster chosen as the Royals’ captain. Will that bring a new and responsible Sanju out of Samson? We can’t wait to see and find out!
4. Steve Smith – Delhi Capitals
Is there a more consistent, hungry and eccentric batsman in world cricket than Steve Smith? The jury is out on his effectiveness in T20 cricket, but an average of 35.34 at a SR of 129.25 in 95 IPL games is no mean task!
However, he comes to this year’s campaign with a lot to prove. Almost unsold in the auction, he was picked up by the Capitals as a back-up. With a strong top-order already in place, Smith’s chances could be limited. That means extra pressure on him to stand up and deliver. Can he? Leading cricket betting website Desibets.com believes he can and have written glowing reviews about him and how he can prove doubters wrong this season.
5. Varun Chakravarthy – Kolkata Knight Riders
The mystery spinner picked up 17 wickets last season and was one of stirring tales of KKR’s otherwise poor campaign. At an ER of 6.84 and consistently bowling at both ends of the innings, Chakravarthy has created a niche for himself ending up with a national team place.
This could be a different campaign, though, as all teams would have got their analyses in place. It could be a challenge for the mystery man to keep delivering and for that alone, he remains in our list of ‘ones to watch’.