8 players who can decide the destiny of IPL 7

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The seventh version of the Premier League is little more than a week old but already, the table is starting to take shape. We've seen some brilliant individual performances in the UAE stage of this tournament but who will be the key players when the competition returns to India?

The seventh version of the Premier League is little more than a week old but already, the table is starting to take shape. We've seen some brilliant individual performances in the UAE stage of this tournament but who will be the key players when the competition returns to India?

<b>8. Glenn Maxwell</b>

Maxwell's ability with the bat was never in question but clever shot selection wasn't the strongest part of his game and prior to IPL 7, the Aussie had never made a half century in this tournament. Suddenly, his first three knocks for Kings XI Punjab have produced scores of 95, 89 and 95. Maxwell had shown greater maturity with the bat during the recent ICC World T20 and while he's currently holding the Orange Cap as the IPL's leading run scorer, his displays are set to fire Kings into the knockouts.

<b>7. Parthiv Patel</b>

Reliability isn't a word normally associated with Parthiv Patel but important runs at the top of the order have helped his RCB side to two consecutive wins at the start of this competition. Scores of 37 and 57 are barely going to stir the excitable commentary of Danny Morrison but after the Royal Challengers tried various opening pairs without success in 2013, Patel's contributions have been vital.

<b>6. Sunil Narine</b>

Kolkata Knight Riders' fortunes could be indelibly linked to the performances of Sunil Narine and that theory has been perfectly underlined in their opening games. Against 2013 Champions Mumbai, the West Indian took 4/20 in a winning cause while a solitary wicket in the second tie couldn't prevent a loss to a weak Daredevils unit. There have been signs that KKR's batting is solid enough to get them back into the top four but only if Narine can work his magic with the ball.

<b>5. Suresh Raina</b>

Chennai's Raina has to be one of the most frustrating players in World Cricket. Immensely talented, his international career has never been convincing, yet he saves his best for the IPL. The left-handed bat remains the leading run scorer in the tournament's history and earlier this month, he became the first player to reach 100 appearances in the competition. In 2014, Raina has made scores of 24 and 56 but with CSK's Dwayne Bravo ruled out of the remainder of this tournament, Chennai's number three has to assume even more responsibility.

<b>4. Kevin Pietersen</b>

KP missed the opening three games of this competition and in his absence, all of Delhi's failings were exposed. Weak batting and suspect bowling has seen the Daredevils lose two out of their opening three ties and Pietersen's runs and inspiration are badly needed if they are to breach the top four. The <a href='http://www.london24.com/sport/cricket/top_6_kevin_pietersen_england_controversies_1_3284883?usurv=skip' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>controversy over his England place</b></a> has masked the fact that KP has been short on form so he needs to rediscover his touch from the very first ball, otherwise Delhi's campaign will be over before they reach India.

<b>3. Shikhar Dhawan</b>

The Sunrisers' skipper faces a difficult decision but for the sake of his side, he should be dropping to number three. The Australian international opening pair of Aaron Finch and David Warner were bought for big money at the auction and while they form a natural and effective partnership, Dhawan is currently splitting it by taking the number two position. The left hander is short of runs and therefore his next move could have a serious bearing on Sunrisers' claims. Finch and Warner go together at the top of the order like Hayden and Langer or Greenidge and Haynes. Drop down a slot Shikhar and give your franchise the best possible chance.

<b>2. Sanju Samson</b>

At the age of just 19, wicket keeper batsman Sanju Samson is widely seen as Dhoni's inheritor and while he's made some nice half centuries in the IPL, the time has come for a more commanding role. Rajasthan Royals are without the steadying influence of skipper Rahul Dravid and with the bowling attack seen as a weaker link, the batsmen have to score in excess of 180 on a regular basis. Shane Watson and Ajinkya Rahane have already made half centuries and after a 52 in a losing cause against Kings XI, Samson can be the pivotal batter in this side.

<b>1. Zaheer Khan</b>

Mumbai Indians have begun their defence of the IPL in the worst possible fashion with two straight defeats but there are signs that veteran left armer Zaheer Khan is approaching his best. Two wickets in three balls against RCB including a second ball dismissal of Yuvraj Singh suggests he needs to stay fit and provide a foil for Lasith Malinga if Mumbai are to recover. After the early exchanges, Kings XI have joined Royal Challengers Bangalore as favourites at odds of <a href='https://www.betfair.com/sport' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>4.0 with Betfair</b></a> to win the IPL but which of these players will prove crucial to the destiny of the trophy?

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