Here’s our pick of the top batsmen who are expected to make waves during the 51-day affair.
In 13 T20Is that Virat Kohli has played in 2016 so far, he has accumulated 625 runs at an outstanding average of 125.00 with seven half-centuries. The next best in the list is Sabbir Rahman of Bangladesh who has played 16 T20Is and scored 463 runs. Clearly, Kohli has been in a class above the rest. He was also the leading run-getter at the World T20s, was declared as the Man of the Series and also selected to captain the World XI chosen by the ICC. Royal Challengers Bangalore have always built a star-studded squad, still the title has eluded them. With Kohli in such a destructive form, they can hope to go the distance this time.
Mumbai Indians have added more steel to their already powerful batting line-up with the purchase of Jos Buttler for Rs 3.8 crores. He has the record for hitting three fastest centuries for England in ODIs and will be one of the two currently active English cricketers to feature in the IPL. Buttler has justified his price tag with 277 runs at 55.40 in eight T20Is this year. The fact that he bats lower down the order didn’t stop him from finishing as the fifth-highest run-getter with 191 runs at the WT20 in India. His reputation as a big-hitter to which the Indian crowd was witness to last month will again be on full display if and when he gets a chance to play for Mumbai Indians.
Kevin Pietersen was released by Sunrisers Hyderabad last season as he targeted a return to international cricket choosing to play domestic cricket in England instead. His dream was crushed though which means he can now fully devote himself in the various global T20 tournaments. And the results are testament to his renewed focus. At the Big Bash League, he was the third-highest run-getter with 323 runs in nine appearances. At the inaugural Pakistan Super League, he scored 215 runs for Quetta Gladiators on pitches that will be similar to what he will encounter in the IPL. He has been signed by Rising Pune Supergiants for their inaugural season and under the leadership of MS Dhoni, he will expect to set the stage ablaze at the biggest domestic T20 tournament.
Chris Lynn is remembered by Kolkata Knight Riders fans for his spectacular catch of AB de Villiers on IPL debut that was crucial in snapping Royal Challengers Bangalore’s unbeaten start in the IPL 7. This season, they can expect Lynn the batsman to capture their imagination as he comes on the back of a supreme run at the Big Bash League. In eight BBL matches, Lynn finished as the top-scorer with 378 runs at an average of 54.00 and strike-rate of 173.39 to go with one century and three half-centuries. Although, in two IPL seasons, he has only played three matches but expect that to change this year as it will be hard for Gautam Gambhir to ignore the 25-year-old despite his failures with the national team.
In just two years, Shreyas Iyer has launched himself into the national reckoning with two fruitful Ranji seasons with Mumbai. He was the leading run-getter for Mumbai in his debut season while in the second; he finished as the tournament’s highest run-getter. For Delhi Daredevils too, he was the shining light scoring 439 runs at 33.76 with the help of four half-centuries in 2014 which was also his debut season. Now, in a revamped set-up and under the mentorship of Rahul Dravid, Delhi can hope that the youngster continues to blossom and stamp his authority. The 21-year-old will also be motivated by the fact that a successful IPL season can ‘fast-track’ him into the Indian team.