The Indian Premier League has provided us with many talented cricketers over the years. And the competition among players to get into a team's XI is very stiff; factors like age and fitness often come into play.
To keep themselves in the hunt, IPL cricketers have to adapt, improvise, add new skills to their arsenal and outplay their rivals or even teammates. We've seen many players who struggled to find a place in the team initially, but went on to become mainstays for their franchises after working on their skills.
Players like Chris Gayle, Mike Hussey, Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, David Warner, Glenn Maxwell and Jos Buttler took quite some time to find their feet in the tournament.
On the flip side, we have also witnessed some players like Unmukt Chand, Praveen Kumar, Pragyan Ojha, Sudeep Tyagi, Paul Valthaty and Manvinder Bisla losing their spots after failing to adapt.
On that note, let us look at five players who have the potential to become the cornerstone of their respective teams by raising their game a notch or two:
#5 Shubman Gill
Although Gill has been a regular feature in their playing XI, he has got limited opportunities to bat long - coming as he mostly does at No. 6 or No. 7.
Since KKR have discarded two of their routine top-order batsmen - Chris Lynn and Robin Uthappa - they need someone to partner Sunil Narine at the top. The Punjab batsman, having been a genuine opener throughout his professional career, is the top choice to take up the role.
IPL 2020 can be the season where Gill converts the 20s and 30s into big runs, taking full advantage of a higher batting position.
#4 Krishnappa Gowtham
The Karnataka cricketer is one of the most underrated and underutilized cricketers in the Indian Premier League.
Krishnappa Gowtham is a genuine all-rounder who bowls off-spin and bats lower down the order, mostly at 6, 7 or 8. He has been a part of the Rajasthan Royals franchise for the last two years, and warmed the bench for an entire season with Mumbai Indians before that.
Though the 31-year-old got ample opportunities with RR, he didn't showcase his talent enough to be retained. But Kings XI Punjab got him during the mid-season transfer, and would be looking to give him a crucial role in IPL 2020 - the one that their former skipper R. Ashwin performed.
Gowtham is in exquisite form as he recently slammed a 56-ball 134 and picked up an 8-wicket hall in a single game at the domestic level. Going by KXIP's requirements, the all-rounder will get abundant opportunities in 2020 - which might help turn around his IPL career.
#3 Rahul Chahar
Rahul Chahar is the latest in the trend of leg-spinners being added to the IPL. He has been a part of the cash-rich league for three years now, but gained the confidence of his captain only last season.
The 20-year-old spinner played three matches in 2017 for Rising Pune Supergiant and warmed the benches in the following edition for Mumbai Indians, as they preferred another leg-spinner Mayank Markande ahead of him.
Due to Markande's bad form, MI pushed Chahar into the playing XI and in response, he cemented his position by picking 13 wickets from 13 matches at an economy rate of just 6.55.
In the upcoming season MI will have just one leg-spinner, and the onus will be completely on the youngster. The four-time champions have an ordinary spin attack going into IPL 2020, which gives Chahar an opportunity to shine.
#2 Vijay Shankar
Vijay Shankar has seen a rapid rise in his career - from being a Test match backup to representing India in the ICC Cricket World Cup. He was seen as a like-for-like replacement for Hardik Pandya and was included in the limited-overs squad when the latter was unavailable.
Though Shankar has been a regular feature in the IPL, he hasn't fired as he would've liked. In 33 IPL matches, he has scored 557 runs with a decent strike-rate of 133. The main issue is that his role hasn't been clear, as he has batted at almost all positions from number 3 to 7.
In the upcoming edition of the IPL, Sunrisers Hyderabad lack finishers due to the departure of Yusuf Pathan, Deepak Hooda and Shakib Al Hasan. That will likely give clarity to Shankar's role in the team, and we might see his best in 2020.
#1 James Neesham
James Neesham hasn't been a part of the most popular league in the world since 2014, which is quite astonishing considering the leverage that he brings to any team. The Kiwi all-rounder is in the form of his life and played a vital role in New Zealand's journey to the World Cup final.
The 29-year-old has over 1500 runs and 106 wickets in the shortest format of the game. Neesham has a reputation of being a devastating middle-order batsman and a handy seam-bowler, who on a given day can win matches in either department.
Kings XI Punjab gained Neesham's services at a bargain price of INR 50 lakh, which was his base price. Considering the form he is in, IPL 2020 might be the season where Neesham displays the full impact of his presence to a T20 side.