IPL: Players to watch out for

March 20, 2024
The 2024 season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) will once again be the place where some of the biggest names in men’s cricket will be showcasing their skills to enthrall fans.

New Delhi, March 20 (IANS) The 2024 season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) will once again be the place where some of the biggest names in men’s cricket will be showcasing their skills to enthrall fans.

This time, the tournament will see some of its biggest names return to the competition after missing out on the last season. At the same time, there are some exciting names who would be making their first foray into the world of IPL.

IANS looks at the players to watch out for from both Indian and overseas contingent.

Rishabh Pant: When the left-handed wicketkeeper-batter survived a life-threatening car accident in December 2022, people were concerned about his well-being and more so about whether he would return to playing.

In his nearly 14 months away from the game, Pant had his right knee ligaments reconstructed, stitches and grafting done for his skin-related injuries, underwent rigorous rehabilitation, aqua therapy and a tailor-made strengthening plus flexibility programme at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) to now be on the verge of making a remarkable comeback to cricket.

With him coming back to cricket, it should be interesting to see how Pant copes with the loads of batting and possibly doing wicketkeeping, as well as captaining Delhi Capitals after a long period on the sidelines. Moreover, if he fares well in IPL 2024, he could be in late reckoning for a spot in the 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup squad.

Shreyas Iyer: The right-handed batter missed IPL 2023 due to a lower back issue which needed surgical intervention in the United Kingdom. Iyer now comes into this season as Kolkata Knight Riders’ captain, but has had a couple of bad months.

Iyer had a stellar run-making time in 2023 Men’s ODI World Cup in India, but couldn’t hold on to his place in T20I and Test teams, and didn’t get a BCCI central contract too due to non-participation in domestic competitions.

Though he made a fluent 95 in the Ranji Trophy final for Mumbai, Iyer couldn’t field in the last two days due to back pain resurfacing and it remains to be seen how he copes up with the bat and leadership loads in IPL 2024 for KKR.

Pat Cummins: Australia’s Test and ODI captain opted out of IPL 2023 focus on international cricket commitments. It was a move which paid off for Cummins as he won the World Test Championship, retained the Ashes and took home the Men’s ODI World Cup title.

In last year’s IPL Auction at Dubai, with his value skyrocketing, Cummins was roped in by the Sunrisers Hyderabad for a whopping INR 20.5 crore, making him the second-most expensive player in the history of the league. With him now being given leadership duties, Cummins will be itching to leave his mark in the IPL on his return for the 2024 season.

Rachin Ravindra: The left-handed batter, who also bowls quick left-arm spin, shone at the Men’s ODI World Cup in India, finishing as the competition’s fourth leading run-scorer with 578 runs at an average of 64.

He also scored three centuries and two half-centuries, including an unbeaten 123 in the tournament opener against England in Ahmedabad. Those performances propelled Chennai Super Kings to pick him for INR 1.8 crore, but with his team-mate Devon Conway suffering a thumb injury, Ravindra can open with Ruturaj Gaikwad.

Azmatullah Omarzai: The 23-year-old seam-bowling all-rounder from Afghanistan can fit into the Gujarat Titans’ set-up as a replacement for Hardik Pandya, who’s now moved to captain the Mumbai Indians, and partly for an injured Mohammed Shami.

Omarzai, who left Sachin Tendulkar mesmerised with his seam position in the ODI World Cup, can become a floater in the batting line-up and be the new-ball swinging bowler in powerplay. Him making a career-best 149 not out in an ODI against Sri Lanka at Pallekele also boosts his batting credentials.

Kumar Kushagra: Chennai Super Kings and Gujarat Titans fought for the services of the explosive wicketkeeper-batter, but the former withdrew during the IPL 2024 auction. Delhi Capitals jumped in and eventually staved off the challenge from Titans’ to acquire Kushagra for a life-changing INR 7.2 crore.

Though Pant has been cleared by the BCCI medical team to start IPL 2024 as a wicketkeeper-batter, if he doesn’t don the gloves in initial days, then Kushagra can be amongst the first people to take up the keeping duties.

A batter who’s capable of hitting long sixes in the lower-order and impressed DC scouts, including director of cricket Sourav Ganguly, Kushagra also represented India A against the England Lions in January this year, adding to his steady rise in cricket since the IPL auction.



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