IPL: Players to Watch out for

Shubman Gill

India has long celebrated Shubman Gill’s exceptional batting prowess, marked by his flawless technique, confidence, maturity, and insatiable hunger for runs across various formats. However, the upcoming IPL season promises to unveil a new facet of Gill’s talent as he steps into the role of captaincy for the Gujarat franchise, following a contentious trade that saw their former captain, Hardik Pandya, move to Mumbai.

Gill, now 24, embarked on his IPL journey with the Kolkata Knight Riders in 2018, only to be released ahead of the 2022 auction. Subsequently, he was scooped up by Gujarat for INR 7 crore, alongside his former captain, Hardik Pandya. In the IPL 2022 season, Gill amassed 483 runs in 16 matches, playing a pivotal role in Gujarat’s title triumph in their inaugural campaign. However, it was the subsequent year that witnessed Gill’s true coming-of-age story, as he emerged as the team’s top run-scorer with a staggering 890 runs in 17 innings. Notably, his stellar performance included three centuries, one of which surpassed Virender Sehwag’s record for the highest score in an IPL playoff (129), contributing significantly to Gujarat’s achievement of posting the highest total ever in an IPL playoff (233), against Mumbai. Despite their runner-up finish to Chennai Super Kings in the final, Gill’s outstanding form earned him the IPL’s coveted orange cap. Gill’s remarkable feat inducted him into the elite company of Virat Kohli and Jos Buttler, who are the only other two players with more than two centuries in a single IPL. Gill’s tally of 890 runs places him second on the list of highest season aggregates in IPL history, trailing only Kohli (973 in 2016) and Buttler (863 in 2022). Gill’s consistent accumulation of runs has drawn comparisons to Virat Kohli, often earning him praise as the next run-machine in Indian cricket. However, like Kohli, Gill is not immune to criticism, particularly during lean patches such as his recent struggles in the Test series against South Africa and England. Nevertheless, displaying the resilience and work ethic for which he is renowned, Gill addressed his shortcomings and responded emphatically, concluding the series against England with 342 runs at an impressive average of 48.85, the second-highest tally on either side. Gujarat Team Director Vikram Solanki believes that Gill has matured sufficiently to assume leadership responsibilities from the seasoned Pandya. With his penchant for dominating the big stage, Gill is poised to captivate audiences once again with his stellar performances in the upcoming IPL season.

Yashasvi Jaiswal

India’s burgeoning cricket talent, Yashasvi Jaiswal, has been setting the cricket world alight with his remarkable performances in the recent Tests with England. Amassing over 700 runs, including two double centuries, in the recently concluded England-India Test series, he has rightfully earned the prestigious ICC Player of the Month award. Jaiswal’s breathtaking display has captivated fans worldwide, and anticipation is high as he gears up to represent the Rajasthan franchise in the upcoming IPL. With a record-breaking spree underway, all eyes are poised to witness the fireworks expected from this dynamic Indian opener, who now holds the record for the most sixes (26) in a Test series.

Sameer Rizvi

Sameer Rizvi, the explosive talent from Meerut, has been making waves in the cricketing arena. Following his blistering century in the UP20 League, Rizvi emerged as the highest run-scorer for UP in the 23-24 Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy. His prowess did not go unnoticed, as the champion squad CSK secured him with a whopping bid of 8.40Cr, a testament to his potential. Riding on a wave of form, Rizvi recently notched a triple century against Saurashtra in the ongoing U23 CK Nayudu Trophy, hinting at a promising future with CSK. It appears that CSK has unearthed yet another hidden gem in Rizvi, bolstering their lineup with his aggressive batting style.

Rishab Pant

Following a harrowing accident in December 2022, India’s star wicketkeeper-batsman, Rishab Pant, embarked on a journey of extensive rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy. After 14 months of arduous recovery, Pant has finally been declared fit to grace the field once again in the upcoming IPL. Fans eagerly anticipate Pant’s return, especially as he reassumes his captaincy duties with the Delhi Capitals, a position that seemed difficult to fill during his absence. His comeback fills a crucial void in the team, and expectations are high for his leadership and explosive batting prowess to reignite the Capitals’ campaign.

Pat Cummins

The Hyderabad camp has endured internal upheaval since the contentious removal of their former captain, David Warner, midway through the 2021 IPL season. Following a period of poor form, Warner found himself sidelined by the team management, leading to a strained relationship with the franchise he had led to victory in 2016, and accumulated over 4000 runs in eight seasons. Finally finding success a few weeks later at the T20 World Cup, where he earned the title of player of the series, Warner’s departure left a palpable emotional impact on the team dynamics as he gave the following statement – ”When you are dropped from the team you have loved the most for years without any real fault of yours and stripped of captaincy without being given a reason, it hurts.”. Hyderabad’s fortunes have plummeted since Warner’s departure, marked by a revolving door of coaches and captains, and a lack of stability within the squad. The 2023 season saw them struggling to find a settled unit, evidenced by their fielding of 23 players – the joint-most for any team – with seven changes in opening combinations, reflecting a lack of cohesion at the top. In a bid to turn their fortunes around, Hyderabad made a bold move in the IPL auction, breaking records with an unprecedented bid of 20.5Cr for Australian cricket stalwart Pat Cummins. This record-breaking bid was soon eclipsed by Kolkata, who secured Cummins’ teammate Mitchell Starc for 24.75Cr. Cummins, who had previously played for Kolkata between 2020-2022 before taking a break in the subsequent season to manage his international workload, now finds himself tasked with leading Hyderabad’s resurgence. Assuming leadership duties from Aidan Markram, who has clinched consecutive titles in Cricket South Africa’s T20 league – SA20, presents a formidable challenge for Cummins. Despite lacking previous experience as captain in top-flight T20 cricket, Cummins’ successful stint as captain of Australia, which saw triumphs in the World Test Championship and the 2023 ODI World Cup, positions him as a seasoned leader with a wealth of experience and skill. Hyderabad’s foreign contingent appears formidable with a lineup boasting of World Cup hero Travis Head, T20 maestro Heinrich Klaasen and Australia’s match-winner Cummins himself. With only four overseas spots available, It’ll be interesting to see if ex-captain Markram even finds a place in the XI this time around. Fans are hopeful that their third captain in three seasons, Cummins can guide the team to IPL glory once again, reminiscent of their triumph in 2016.

Hardik Pandya

Undoubtedly, one of the most polarizing figures to watch in the upcoming season is Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya, whose name has been embroiled in controversy for a myriad of reasons. It all began with a seismic shift when Mumbai Indians unexpectedly released Pandya during the 2022 mega auctions. Subsequently, he was snatched up by the Gujarat Titans, where he not only assumed the role of captain but also led the team to victory in their debut season, followed by a runner-up finish the next year. However, the cricketing world was rocked by the sensational transfer of Pandya from GT back to his former franchise, MI, amidst swirling rumors of an astronomical transfer fee, purportedly close to 100Cr. Reports suggest that Pandya could have pocketed up to 50% of this hefty sum in addition to his already substantial annual salary of 15Cr. This unexpected move sent shockwaves through both franchises’ fan bases, especially considering Pandya’s return to the team where he began his career, displacing the five-time title-winning captain and Indian cricket stalwart, Rohit Sharma. The decision also raised eyebrows regarding the potential leadership transition, with star bowler Jasprit Bumrah waiting in the wings for his turn at the helm. Bumrah’s cryptic social media post following Pandya’s captaincy announcement only added fuel to the speculation.

Compounding matters, Pandya has been sidelined with an ankle injury for nearly a year, causing him to miss all national team fixtures, including the ODI World Cup last year. Despite being declared fit, Pandya received special dispensation from the BCCI to bypass participation in the domestic Ranji Trophy, a privilege not extended to fellow players Shreyas Iyer and Ishan Kishan, who were mandated to represent their respective states or face consequences. The BCCI cited Pandya’s injury history as the rationale behind this exemption, further stoking controversy and debate surrounding the talented but embattled cricketer.

Dhruv Jurel

Dhruv Jurel made a promising debut in the IPL last year for Rajasthan, demonstrating his prowess through powerful hitting and remarkable composure. Followed by impressive performances for India A, he was fast tracked into the national Indian Test squad during the recent India-England series, primarily due to a string of injuries to senior players. In a memorable display of skill and temperament, Jurel rose to the occasion, playing a pivotal role in rescuing India from a precarious position following a collapse of the top order in the fourth test. Despite narrowly missing out on his maiden century by a mere 10 runs, he clinched the player of the match award as India won the game. With his adeptness at changing gears in his batting and his capacity to absorb pressure effectively showcased, Jurel has firmly established himself as a formidable presence across formats. Rajasthan can undoubtedly count on him as another potential match-winner in their lineup, further bolstering their prospects in the upcoming IPL season.

Suyash Sharma

Bought at a modest base price of 20 Lakhs, Suyash emerged as one of Kolkata’s most valuable discoveries in the previous season of the IPL. In a stellar debut, the mystery leg-spinner claimed an impressive tally of 10 wickets in just 8 games, showcasing his exceptional talent on the grand stage. Notably, he etched his name in the record books by securing the sixth-best figures by an Indian player on their IPL debut and the second-best figures by a spinner. Such was the impact of his performance that teammates hailed him as a potential future star for the Indian cricket team. Remarkably, Suyash stands out as one of the few players to make his IPL debut without prior experience in List-A, First-Class, or T20 cricket. Despite his relative youth at 20 years old, he has already demonstrated remarkable prowess and maturity on the field. Further cementing his credentials, Suyash recently made a resounding debut for Delhi in the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy, delivering a career-best T20 bowling performance with figures of 5/13 from his allotted four overs and eventually picking up 18 wickets in seven matches to finish as the joint-second highest wicket taker in the tournament. Given Kolkata’s storied history of nurturing exceptional spin bowlers, including the likes of Sunil Narine, the emergence of Suyash presents a tantalizing prospect for the franchise. With Varun Chakravarty’s inconsistent form in recent times, Kolkata will likely turn to Suyash as the X-factor in their bowling arsenal, aiming to bolster their spin department and regain their dominance in the upcoming IPL season.

MS Dhoni

Following his leadership in guiding the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) to a record-equalling fifth title last year, the venerable MS Dhoni shared a poignant sentiment post the final match, stating, “The easy thing would be to walk away from here, the harder thing would be to work hard for 9 months and try to play another IPL.” In his commitment to return for another season, Dhoni views it as a gift to his fervent fanbase. Such is the adulation and mystique surrounding India’s cricketing icon – MS Dhoni, renowned for extracting the best performances from both seasoned veterans and emerging talents. Consequently, he is hailed as the best IPL captain ever and a titan of the sport. At 42 years old, anticipation abounds as he prepares to lead the defending champions for what would be a record 15th season in the IPL. Yet, amidst the excitement, speculation looms: will this mark his final campaign? The perennial question of Dhoni’s IPL retirement invariably seizes the spotlight each new season, as he continues to confound expectations by returning to the cricketing arena. While he may not face an abundance of deliveries, often emerging at the tail end of the batting order, MS Dhoni’s appearances are eagerly anticipated by fans eager to witness his trademark magic unfold. Last season, amidst this reduced playing time, Dhoni orchestrated moments of brilliance that reverberated through the stands of their home ground, Chepauk. His entrance, accompanied by a popular film anthem, ignited a fervour among the crowd, reaching a crescendo when he dispatched England’s fast bowler Mark Wood for consecutive sixes. It’s doubtful that the tournament has witnessed a louder ovation for any player in its history.

Despite grappling with a persistent knee injury throughout the season, Dhoni showcased his resilience, culminating in a striking performance with a formidable strike rate of 182.45 across 12 innings, including 10 towering sixes. This tenacity and flair for the dramatic not only delighted his legion of supporters but also left them yearning for more. As the new season beckons, fans eagerly anticipate the possibility of witnessing Dhoni recreate his enchanting displays once again.


Ashwin Zutshi is a young avid writer and enthusiast on cricket, Agadgets and auto world. He has done podcasts, curated extensive online content and writes occasionally.

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