Kings XI Punjab are ready to kick-off their campaign against Pune Warriors while Sunrisers Hyderabad will take on Royal Challengers Bangalore in their first face-off this season on Sunday.
Here we bring before the players who can make the difference with their performance in this exciting affair of IPL T20.
Pune Warriors (PW)
Ashok Dinda: Ashok Dinda bowled brilliantly in the first match of Pune Warriors and ended up picking a couple of wickets. His ability to chip in death overs with his Yorkers and slower ones makes him a lethal bowler. He can play a vital role in Pune’s next fixture to make them win their first match of the season.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar: Bhuvneshwar continued his terrific run and gave away just 17 runs in the first T20 match. He picked up just one wicket but he created a lot of pressure on his oppositions and didn’t allow them to score boundaries. His habit of keep bowling at the same channel makes him much more dangerous.
Yuvraj Singh: Yuvraj didn’t start off this edition of IPL in the manner he would have liked to. He did have a great time with the ball as he picked up a wicket and gave away just eight runs in his two overs. His vulnerability against spin bowling was relished by Amit Mishra who deceived him in flight and got him stumped.
Robin Uthappa: Robin Uthappa took a decent start in the opening match but failed to continue that and gave away his wicket after scoring 24 runs. He is more of an aggressive batsman and he got into the shell when Dale Steyn came up with the furious spell of swing bowling. He needs to start attacking the bowler so that he can enjoy the luxury of two fielders in the circle during power-play. His ability to change the course of the game makes him an absolutely dangerous player.
Steve Smith: Steve Smith was side lined for the opening match and it did cost Pune warriors a lot. Smith was the highest run-getter for Pune last year and was in good run in the recent Test series. Taking in consideration his recent form, he should have been included in the squad but Angelo Matthews surely made a blunder by not roping him in.
Kings XI Punjab (K-XI-P)
Adam Gilchrist: Gilchrist has always been the cornerstone for Kings XI and he is not leaving any stone unturned to make this season a memorable one for his team. He has chalked out the strategy with the newly appointed coach, Darren Lehmann, with whom he won the second edition of IPL. He is looking satisfied with the blend of players he has got this time.
David Hussey: David Hussey had always been their trump card and this time again he is looking forward to put up a great show to take his team to the play-offs of IPL. Hussey has always been amongst the runs for Kings XI and same kind of power-packed performance is expected from him. He can architect the innings at his pace but what he needs is company at the other end, someone who can rotate the strike and keep the pressure off him so that he can fire in the last five overs.
Azhar Mahmood: Azhar Mahmood had joined the squad a week ago and is looking in great shape. His all-round ability and tons of experience behind him makes him a very important member of Punjab squad. Azhar missed out on the last season because of some visa issues but he is ready to play a part in setting the winning tone for his captain Adam Gilchrist.
Parwinder Awanna: Awanna generates some serious pace which can rattle the best batsmen in the world. His steamy bowling is going to be a crucial factor in his first match of the season against Pune Warriors. He can bowl those tight overs at the end of the innings to make the life tougher for the batsmen.
Harmeet Singh: Harmeet has earned a lot of praises for his deviations in medium pace bowling. He has earned good number of wickets in the previous editions because of the variations he had . His ability to score quick runs lower down the order will make him much more than handy.
Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH)
Dale Steyn: Dale Steyn had a brilliant first game and ended up picking three wickets in Hyderabad. He would be looking to come all guns blazing against the star batting line-up of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). His swing bowling needs not much assistance from the wicket because he has sufficient pace with him to disturb the batsmen. His ability to bowl with consistent line and length makes him unplayable at times. He is surely going to be the impact player this season for Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH).
Amit Mishra: He bowled an exceptional spell of leg-spin bowling and kept the Pune batsmen in double-mind till the last bowl. He picked up three crucial wickets but the big thing was in the manner he got those wickets. He deceived Yuvraj Singh, Abhishek Nayar and Manish Pandey with the flight and turn. His strength lies in variations which he displayed in the first match. He gave away just 19 runs and left batsmen with no clue whatsoever.
Kumar Sangakkara: Sangakkara marshalled his troops really well in the opening game of Sunrisers Hyderabad. His bowling changes and field setting created immense pressure on Pune Warriors because of which they failed to chase a low total of 126 runs. The only concern for him is the batting performance which needs to be raised in the match against RCB. Sangakarra is a class bataman and it's just matter of time he gets into that groove.
Thisara Perera: Thisara Perera showcased the brilliant all-round effort by scoring 30 runs while batting and giving some early breakthroughs to tilt the balance in Hyderabad’s favour. He did a brilliant run out off his bowling. He can be player who can turn the tables in just a matter of few overs whether it is with the ball or the bat.
Ishant Sharma: Ishant had a decent run with the ball and he kept the pressure on the opposition batsmen. His sharp incoming deliveries were creating lots of troubles and he will be looking forward to add few Yorkers to clinch few more wickets against Royal challengers Bangalore. Bowling with Steyn will surely be a great learning curve for him and to have a tough competitor like Steyn will surely raise the bar of his performance.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Chris Gayle: Gayle-storm hit Mumbai very strongly and took away the match from their hands. Gayle scored 92 off 58 balls and hit those five monstrous sixes. Though he was suffering from cramps, he didn’t get bogged down and started firing when his team was looking in all sorts of troubles. Gayle has that ruthless power that can destroy any bowling attack and he is the trump card for RCB. He must be looking for a payback to Dale Steyn as the last time when he faced Steyn, he got bowled after scoring few boundaries in the fifth edition of IPL.
Virat Kohli: Kohli had a nice start in the last match and was looking good but he threw away his wicket. This time he has a tough task on his hand, as he will face one of the best bowling attack of this season. Kohli has cherished batting against fast bowlers but he has not faced Dale Steyn much and that would be a contest within a contest which will have its own charm as the two giants will take on each other on Sunday.
Vinay Kumar: His bowling performance in the death overs has improved significantly. His Yorker to Keiron Pollard in the final ball of the first match against Mumbai Indians is a brilliant example of that. He has always been among the wickets and with his good variations, he would be looking forward to destroy the fragile middle-order of Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Daniel Vettori: Vettori was rested for the opening match of RCB and there is a definite chance that he might be roped in because of his brilliant all-round skills. Muralitharan was very expensive in the last match and was not looking in the rhythm and on a slow track at Hyderabad. Chinamen bowling of Vettori will surely come in handy for captain Kohli.
Ravi Rampaul: Ravi Rampaul might be seen in action as the new captain of RCB Virat Kohli is looking forward to add some amount of strength to his bowling unit. Rampaul is an experienced campaigner and can do the damage in the early overs. His swing bowling might give a run for the money to top order of Sunrisers.
By Amit Chopra
Indian Sports News Network