New Delhi: Cricket fans will have their eyes glued to the television screens when the battle to glory between 10 franchises commences for the coveted Indian Premier League (IPL) title from March 31.
Defending champions Gujarat Titans will take on four-time winners Chennai Super Kings at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad to kick start the 16th season of the lucrative cricket league.
As the countdown to the cash-rich league draws to a close, IANS takes a look at the top five batters who have been in red-hot form recently, and can take the field by storm.
Jos Buttler (Rajasthan Royals)
The swashbuckling wicketkeeper-batsman will be out to make an impact as Rajasthan Royals hope to utilise his international experience to end their long run for a second title.
The right-handed English batter was the Orange Cap holder in the previous edition, scoring 863 runs in 17 games, including four tons and as many as half-centuries. After his scintillating show last year, all eyes will be on Buttler to see whether he can maintain his aggressive performance this year and what else he has in his arsenal to offer with the bat.
Buttler had scored 328 runs in the IPL in 2020. While he had to leave IPL 2019 midway to join the England team for the World Cup preparations, he made an impact during his eight-game stint, scoring 311 runs, following his 548-run season in IPL 2018.
Being a senior member of the squad and someone who was retained before the auction, Buttler will have a crucial role to play for Royals with his attractive stroke play.
Shubhman Gill (Gujarat Titans)
Shubhman Gill, who hammered his maiden T20I century against New Zealand earlier this year, had amassed 483 runs for Gujarat Titans last year, helping Titans win their maiden IPL title in their debut season. He remained unbeaten on 45 in the final against Rajasthan Royals.
Gill has drawn immense praise from all quarters for his scintillating form and has cemented his place as India’s opener in white ball cricket, slamming four centuries this year.
His current form will be a huge positive for the defending champions, who will look to replicate the performance of their debut season last year. The Gujarat-based franchise will be hoping that the 21-year-old batter delivers again for the Titans in their title defence this season.
Harry Brook (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
Harry Brook will make his IPL debut this year after taking the cricket world by storm with his heroics in all formats of the game for England. The 24-year-old fetched a massive Rs 13.25 crore deal from 2016 champions Sunrisers Hyderabad and is expected to play a crucial role in the middle order.
Brook’s numbers in limited-over cricket may not be as impressive as they are in red ball cricket, but his aggression in the middle order will make him a much talked-about batter in the upcoming IPL.
After making his Test debut against South Africa in September 2022, Brook travelled to Pakistan and New Zealand with the national team, where he recorded scores of 153, 87, 9, 111, 89, 54, and 186 to take his overall tally to 809 runs in nine innings, at an extraordinary strike rate of 98.77.
He comes into his maiden IPL season with 2,432 runs from 99 T20s at a strike rate of 148.32. His performance can be key to Hyderabad’s success this year.
Shimron Hetmyer (Rajasthan Royals)
The swashbuckler West Indies southpaw known for his six-hitting prowess was roped in by Rajasthan Royals for a whopping Rs 8.5 crore during the 2022 mega auction and he paid dividends with some impressive batting displays.
Hetmyer scored 314 runs last season at an average of 44.86, becoming the fourth-highest run-getter for the Royals. With his six-hitting ability in the death overs, Hetmyer gave the Royals’ batting unit a new depth last season. His performance with the bat has stabilised Royals’ middle order as he goes big towards the end. Expectations from him will surely remain high this season.
Michael Bracewell (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
The Kiwi all-rounder, who came in as a replacement for Will Jacks, can prove to be an important player in the RCB setup given his rich experience in the shortest format of the game.
Bracewell has played 117 T20 matches, amassing 2,284 runs, with a highest score of 141 not out. He is also a decent bowler and has picked up 40 wickets in the format.
The 32-year-old will take confidence from the recent India tour where he scored a fantastic century (140 off 78 balls) in the first ODI in January. He also finished the T20I series against India with four wickets in three games, bowling nine overs.
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