IPL 2019: Five players who can make a splash
A new IPL is on the horizon and a new list of players to watch, including a Nepalese spinner and a big-hitting Indian wicket-keeper, has been compiled by Jamie Pacheco.
"Resembling the great Shane Watson as a moody, muscular hard-hitting Aussie all-rounder, Stoinis is the sort of player any captain loves to have. He can bat anywhere, he can bowl at any stage and generally excels in at least one of the two disciplines, often both. He’s no slouch in the field, either."
It's just under two weeks till the start of the IPL, the greatest domestic T20 competition in the world.
Defending champions the Chennai Super Kings know perfectly well that winning an IPL is one thing and that defending their title is quite another. Here are five players who will be doing their best to wrestle it away from them and could make a big splash at this year's edition.
Rishabh Pant (Delhi Capitals)
MS Dhoni has been around for so long that it's hard to remember what Indian wicket-keeper batsmen were like before he arrived on the scene.
Since the great Dhoni made his debut in 2004, the limited-overs game has moved on a fair bit and few epitomise modern-day batting like Pant.
Dhoni famously takes his time at the crease, nurdling a few singles, leaving a couple of good ones before getting his eye in. Not so Pant.
Similar to South Africa's Quinton de Kock as a left-handed opening wicket-keeper batsman strong both sides of the wicket, he's happy to swing from ball one; but this is no slogger.
His shots are calculated risks based on clean hitting, brute strength and a wonderful eye. It explains why he strikes at 161 in T20 cricket and has two tonnes and 13 fifties to his name in the format.
Last year only Kane Williamson (below) scored more than his 684 IPL runs (he played three matches les than the Kiwi and only fell 51 runs short) and he'll be a big player for the new Delhi Capitals franchise, priced at [9.2] to win it.
Marcus Stoinis (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
This isn't the first time Marcus Stoinis has made one of our 'to watch' lists but you can't blame us for including him.
Resembling the great Shane Watson as a moody, muscular hard-hitting Aussie all-rounder, he's the sort of player any captain loves to have. He can bat anywhere, he can bowl at any stage and generally excels in at least one of the two disciplines, often both. He's no slouch in the field, either.
Coming off the back of a brilliant Big Bash, where he was unlucky to miss out on Player of the Tournament and some excellent displays for Australia in both ODIs and T20s, his presence in the Royal Challengers Bangalore side alongside fellow overseas all-rounder Moeen Ali may provide just the sort of balance they've lacked over the years. It's [6.4] Bangalore win their first-ever title but the odds are a lot shorter on Stoinis having a great campaign.
KL Rahul (Kings XI Punjab)
Despite this being a different format, KL Rahul isn't just playing for IPL glory here, he's also playing for a World Cup place.
Often the man left carrying the drinks with the Selectors going for the tried and trusted trio of Sharma, Dhawan and Kohli in the Top 3, this may represent a chance to show them that they're missing out on.
A tall, elegant batsman who plays proper crickets shots even in this format, he was the third-highest runscorer last campaign for a struggling side, testament to his talent.
He's back for more with the Kings XI Punjab, the [11.0] outsiders. He's unlikely to be winning the IPL this year but he's more than likely to score a mountain of runs once again.
Sandeep Lamichhane (Delhi Capitals)
The second Delhi Capitals player making our list, but he deserves it.
Still just 18, he's something of a Nepalese Rashid Khan, a mystery leg-break spinner who bowls six different deliveries an over to devastating effect. Often, it's the ones that don't turn that cause the most chaos.
He was excellent at the Big Bash for the Melbourne Stars but strangely, opted to leave halfway through to go and play in the Bangladesh Premier League, only to return to the Stars at the back end of the Group Stages and contribute to their journey all the way to the final.
With a stint in the Caribbean Premier League under his belt as well and having played a few games in the IPL last season, this could be the year he becomes a superstar in his own right, rather than a younger version of someone else.
Ashton Turner (Rajasthan Royals)
Not one of the marquee names over at the Perth Scorchers in the BBL but the numbers speak for themselves: he was their highest runscorer for a second season in a row.
This is the tall, quiet, unassuming Aussie's first IPL contract and the Rajasthan Royals may just have pulled off a masterstroke. One of the game's greatest finishers in this format, he can hit big or he can nurdle it around and run hard with the best of them, all executed with a calm temperament.
Having said all that, he may have to be a little patient because this Royals side has more quality overseas players than it has room for them all. But when Turner gets his chance, he looks like a man set on making the most of it.
The Royals are [6.8], largely because once again they're likely to lose Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and possibly Jofra Archer, to international call-ups, before the IPL is over.