The 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is round the corner and is all set to be bigger and grand than earlier seasons. So much so, that the stakes of the cash-rich league which will begin on March 29 are on par to that of the ICC T20 World Cup which will follow later this year in Australia.
The tournament, over the years, has witnessed some of the greatest finishers showing their abilities with the bat. Last season, Kolkata Knight Riders’ Andre Russell took the stage by storm hitting everything in his arc out the park. The giant West Indies cricketer finished the competition with 510 runs from 14 matches at a strike-rate of over 200 including 52 maximums. Delhi Capitals' Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer also had a great tournament alongside Chennai Super Kings' skipper MS Dhoni.
The forthcoming season will also witness some of the greatest strikers of the cricket ball dominate the actions over two months. The eight franchises have tried to rope in the best finishers during the auctions which held in Kolkata, last year in December. Alongside Russell, the likes of Glenn Maxwell, David Miller, Eoin Morgan, Kieron Pollard, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik will look to put their best feet forward and contribute to their sides victory.
Finishers may not always be the most ferocious hitters of the cricket ball but the ones who ensure that their side crosses the line in every game. Chasing a total has turned into an art and we witnessed most of the skippers opting to bowl first in the last season and it will be no different this time around.
As the 13th edition of the IPL starts in a few weeks, we take a look at the top five Indian finishers to watch out for.
#5 Shivam Dube
Shivam Dube had a horrific run in his maiden IPL season managing only 40 runs from four games. The Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) management was confident about releasing the all-rounder ahead of the mega auctions. But Dube’s exploit in the domestic circuit for Mumbai forced the Mike Hesson-led support staff to rethink and retain him.
The 26-year-old Dube is a powerful young cricketer; he packs a punch and is more than capable of hitting the ball a country mile. He is one of the genuine fast bowling all-rounders in the country and is looked upon as the future of the Indian cricket. With 13 T20Is under his belt, the Mumbai lad is yet to showcase his skills consistently, but the oppositions will be fooling themselves if they rule him out of the game.
He boasts a strike-rate of over 135 in T20Is and has the record of hitting five sixes in an over twice. With experience by his side, Shivam Dube will be a hot property in the forthcoming IPL as RCB continue their hunt for their maiden trophy.
Note: All statistics as of February 11, 2020
#4 Riyan Parag
Assam’s Riyan Parag was probably the find of the last season of IPL. A member of India’s 2018 U19 World Cup winning squad, Parag was bought by Rajasthan Royals (RR) for INR 20 lakh, and they reaped dividends. He finished with 160 runs from seven matches at a strike rate of 126.98 and backed Steve Smith’s comments of having a bright future with scores of 47 and 50 against Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Capitals respectively.
The 18-year old’s stock has only gone higher since then as he became a pivotal member in Assam’s set-up in domestic cricket. Parag has been in decent form in the ongoing season - first in limited-overs and then the ongoing Ranji Trophy. Besides, he is also a handy customer with his off-spin and has 22 wickets to his name from 24 outings.
As another IPL journey embarks, all eyes will be on Riyan Parag who will be donning the Royals' jersey. What is attractive about this young cricketer is that, he not only eyes the big boundaries but is a smart cricketer, who sneaks in ones and twos to keep the scoreboard ticking.
#3 Dinesh Karthik
Kolkata Knight Riders’ skipper Dinesh Karthik has been one of the mainstays of their batting since he joined the franchise. His teaming up with West Indies’ Andre Russell formed a deadly combination which gave nightmares to the opposition.
Karthik has been a batting prodigy in the domestic circuit although his international numbers don’t suggest so. He has struck 498 and 253 runs in 2018 and 2019 season at a strike-rate of over 145 including 30 sixes. His ability to pierce the gap and knock over boundaries makes him one of the most devastating wicket-keeper batsmen in the league.
The veteran cricket from Tamil Nadu, after a prolific domestic season in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and Vijay Hazare Trophy, will be keen eyeing to have a bright IPL as he aims to return to India’s T20 squad ahead of the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia. Recently, Karthik also expressed his desire to do well in 20-overs blitz -
“It’s important for me to do well. However, every IPL season has its own importance. It is also crucial for every other player to express his talent in the IPL."
#2 Hardik Pandya
Hardik Pandya is arguably the best finisher in the country with MS Dhoni in the twilight of his career. The all-rounder from Baroda turned a few heads with his clean hitting in the last season of IPL. Pandya smacked 402 runs from 16 matches at a staggering strike-rate of over 190 including 29 sixes and was one of the key performers during Mumbai Indians fourth title-winning campaign.
The flamboyant all-rounder has been out of action owing to an injury which has been bothering him since 2018. He was slated for a return during the New Zealand series but took longer to regain fitness. Hardik Pandya is expected to be in fully fit when he resumes his duties in the Mumbai jersey.
Pandya possesses a great array of shots in his kitty and can hit the ball from the word go. With the T20 World Cup lined up months after the IPL, all eyes will be on the devastating all-rounder as he will look to have an outstanding IPL under his belt ahead of his international return.
#1 Rishabh Pant
The upcoming season of IPL will be of great significance to the young wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant. His performance has been below par in recent times in the India colours and he eventually lost his place across the formats. Pant will hope to eye the forthcoming season to make a return to the national side.
Meanwhile, the Delhi lad will enter the competition on the back of some serious numbers. He has 1736 runs to his name from 54 games at a strike-rate of above 160 and has 94 sixes in IPL. Although he can bat at the top-order, Pant has enjoyed most of his success batting in the middle-order. He has been pivotal in Delhi Capital’s success over the last two seasons finishing as their highest run-getter on both occasions.
Although his chips are down, failing to knock runs for the Men in Blue, few will doubt Rishabh Pant’s abilities. He can hit the ball long and the will fancy his chances as the Capitals continue their hunt for the maiden trophy.