The Champions League T20 is back in India! The tournament – where the top T20 teams from the world lock horns with each other – is less than a month away, with fans getting ready for another wave of frenetic slam-bang cricket. This season is expected to be especially interesting with a team from Pakistan, Faisalabad Wolves, playing for the first time in the tournament. Moreover, this season of CL T20 may well mark the end of the T20 careers of veterans like Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar, as they plan to say goodbye to the shortest format of the game. But who are going to be the five most important players to look forward to in the tournament? Have a look.
The strongly built all-rounder from Australia has always been the most important player for the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL. In the Champions League this season, he will feature in the blue jersey, as he prioritized his IPL side over his home side Brisbane Heats, who were the winners of the KFC Big Bash League.
This will be the first Champions League season for Rajasthan Royals and the think tank would expect Watson to unleash his blistering power shots up the order and also contribute with his medium pace bowling. The recent Ashes loss to England might be lurking somewhere in the back of his mind, but he would be reasonably happy with the way he got his form back in time, as he put together an innings of 176 runs at the Oval.
Raina is one of the most successful T20 batsmen India has ever produced. The stylish left-hander is comfortably the leading run-scorer in the Indian Premier League, sitting on the top of the table ahead of batsmen like Chris Gayle, Gautam Gambhir and Rohit Sharma.
Raina was the first man to cross the 2,000-run mark in the IPL and with the way he is going, he might well be the first to break the 3,000 mark too. His run-making ability can be inferred from the fact that he has an average of 35.02 from 99 matches in the IPL and an average of 33.60 from 36 matches in international T20 matches.
Although Raina’s current form has been under some scrutiny, he would be expected to be one of the key players of the Chennai Super Kings outfit, who will try to regain the trophy this time.
AB de Villiers
Abraham Benjamin de Villiers is currently the most creative and crafty batsman in any form of cricket. He will be playing for the South African T20 giants Titans in this season of the CL T20.
De Villiers is certainly going to be a man to look forward to as he is superb performer in the shortest format of cricket. Playing for the Delhi Daredevils and Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL, he has got 1662 runs from 66 innings, with a best score of 105*.
As far as current form is concerned, de Villiers is not going through his most productive patch; he could not contribute much on his national team’s tour to Sri Lanka, in which the Asian giants looked far better. However, a player of de Villiers’s calibre has the ability to turn a match on its head at any moment. It is going to be a challenge for the bowlers to stop him from scoring in the Indian conditions to which he is acquainted very well.
The Sunrisers Hyderabad would be ecstatic at the way their opening left-handed batsman has been performing since he got a chance in the Indian squad for the Champions Trophy. This man is in a purple patch of form as he has been marvellously successful in all formats of the game.
Dhawan smacked 248 runs against South Africa A in the recently concluded List A series, which is ample evidence of his ability. His IPL record also showcases his potential clearly: he has scored 1851 runs in the IPL from just 67 innings, with 16 fifties and a highest score of 95*.
Dhawan would eagerly be waiting for the CL T20 to arrive. When you are in the kind of form that Dhawan is in right now, the team always has a fabulous chance irrespective of the magnitude of the target to be chased down or the strength of the opposition.
The Sri Lankan has been in sensational form the past couple of years. Runs have been raining from his bat and he is sweating boundaries. The recently concluded South African tour of Sri Lanka witnessed the dazzling form of this 35-year-old batsman.
In international T20 matches, Sangakkara is the fifth highest run-scorer in the world. He has 1178 runs to his name from 43 innings. In the IPL, he has a total of 1687 runs to his tally in 68 innings.
Though Sangakkara plays for the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League, this time in the Champions League he will be rendering his services to the Kandurata Maroons who were the winners of the Sri Lankan domestic T20 competition. Undoubtedly, with all his experience, class and cricketing sense, Sangakkara is going to be the most integral part of the Maroons side.