The CLT20 Players To Watch XI
The CLT20 is another big pay day for the players, with some big names making the trip in an already packed schedule. Here are some names we will be keeping an eye on, be it due to good form or just pure potential to thrill.
The Champions League Twenty20 is being played in India with year, which should work out well for the three, possibly four, Indian Premier League sides in the contest, provided the Sunrisers Hyderabad make it past the qualifiers.
The three-week (ish) tournament is another big pay day for the players, with some big names making the trip in an already packed schedule. Here are some names we will be keeping an eye on, be it due to good form or just pure potential to thrill.
<b>1. Shikhar Dhawan – Sunrisers Hyderabad</b><br>While the Sunrisers have to qualify for the tournament proper, playing games against Otago, Faisalabad and Kandurata, it seems inconceivable not to include the India star in such a list, given his meteoric rise over the past year, in all formats.
Since his debut century against Australia, and subsequent ODI exploits at an average of 43, Dhawan has continued to impress, for both Hyderabad and India. During the IPL he played only 10 games due to injury, but still scored three half centuries.
His most recent knocks for India A saw him make a massive double ton and two fifties against South Africa A. He is skippering the Sunrisers in the tournament, and will be crucial to their progression hopes.
<b>2. Quinton de Kock – Highveld Lions</b><br>The baby-faced South African was the top run-getter during the domestic Ram Slam T20 Challenge, scoring nearly 200 runs more than his closest rival. He scored the competition's only century, and hit 26 sixes, by far the most in the contest.
While De Kock didn't have a good IPL, playing just three games for the Sunrisers and scoring just six runs, he is one of the most explosive batsmen the Proteas, and by extension the Lions, have, and his most recent knock, against the Titans in August, saw him score a century. He also adds value with the gloves, sharing the role with Thami Tsolekile.
<b>3. Mike Hussey – Chennai Super Kings</b><br>Mr Cricket, edging closer to 40 every day, was the IPL's top scorer, narrowly beating out Bangalore's Chris Gayle for the Orange Cap. Hussey was the more consistent player though, scoring six half centuries, though Gayle did get that remarkable 175 not out.
Hussey will be key for Chennai, provided he can get back into the swing of match conditions, given he hasn't played since the IPL ended in May. But if anyone can pick up where he left off, it's the former Australia stalwart.
<b>4. Suresh Raina – Chennai Super Kings</b><br>One of India's permanent picks these days, Raina scored a century and four fifties in 17 IPL knocks this year. He was the best Indian batsman on show aside from Virat Kohli (who's not playing in this tournament, alas) and had his best IPL to date.
For India in recent months, he had an average tour of Zimbabwe, but then went to play for India A against South Africa and rediscovered his form, hitting a century in the final game of that tour and also bagging four wickets with his off-breaks.
<b>5. AB de Villiers – Titans (Capt and WK)</b><br>South Africa's one-day captain, and arguably their most talented player, trades his Royal Challengers Bangalore gear for his home kit, the Pretoria-based Titans. The keeper didn't have the best IPL, but it wasn't the worst either, as he recorded two half tons.
He's always a feature on lists like these as a big knock from him can change the game, as he is aggressive but also technically superb, and also one of the most athletic players in the game, both in terms of running between the wickets and in the field.
His most recent form for South Africa has not been ideal, recording only one fifty on the tour to Sri Lanka, but as has been the case in the past, a run of poor scores usually results in an explosion of runs, as long as his back stays healthy.
<b>6. Shane Watson – Rajasthan Royals</b><br>The Australia all-rounder was one of the Royals' key players during the IPL and was their top run scorer. He was one of four batsmen to make a century, and added two half tons to his records, and finished fifth on the batting list. He also took 13 wickets at an average of 22.92.
Watson copped a lot of flack from the media during the Ashes recently, for his dubious use of DRS and insistence on getting out LBW, but the limited overs series, following on from his century in the final Test, was better. The fifth ODI saw him score 143, a record one-day score by an Aussie in England.
<b>7. Kieron Pollard – Mumbai Indians</b><br>The West Indies all-rounder had his best IPL with the bat, finishing 13th on the list with three fifties and averaging 42. The big-hitting Trinidad and Tobago native chose to play for his IPL side rather than his countrymen, and will put such loyalties aside.
His form with the bat during the Caribbean Premier League, for the Barbados Tridents, was pretty dire, bagging three ducks in a row, but he was good before that against Pakistan for the Windies, and his medium pacers have a tendency to break stubborn partnerships.
<b>8. James Faulkner – Rajasthan Royals</b><br>The Tasmania fast bowler has been in wonderful form all year, for both Australia and Rajasthan. He was the second-highest wicket taker in the IPL, bagging 28 scalps at an average of 15.25, and he makes this list ahead of top bowler Dwayne Bravo because he takes top order wickets.
Faulkner was also impressive in recent months for the Aussies, taking regular wickets in the Ashes and also in the limited-overs series in England, without giving away too many runs. He also adds value with the bat, often bagging a few tail end boundaries to irritate the bowlers.
<b>9. Sunil Narine – Trinidad and Tobago</b><br>The Windies wonder spinner has played for many T20 teams, but goes into this contest for T and T. He played for Guyana in the CPL, not the Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel, and was a Kolkata Knight Rider in the IPL. Like De Villiers, his IPL side isn't playing but his domestic team is, so he gets an extra pay day.
Narine loves bowling in India though, and in 2012 he took the second-most wickets in the IPL, and that boosted him into the international scene. This year, again for KKR, he took 22 wickets and was sixth on the list, before bagging eight scalps for the Amazon Warriors in the CPL.
<b>10. Harbhajan Singh – Mumbai Indians</b><br>Bhajji hasn't played a limited-overs game for India in a year, but is looking to use this contest to grab the attention of the sometimes-sentimental selectors. He might do that if he repeats his IPL efforts, taking 24 wickets, same as Mumbai colleague Mitchell Johnson, propelling them to the title.
The 33-year-old probably has the most experience on Indian soil of all the bowlers in this contest, having played 101 Tests and 229 ODIs for India over the course of 15 years. His experience, provided he can keep a cool head, will be crucial for the IPL champs, who won this event in 2011.
<b>11. Hardus Viljoen – Highveld Lions</b><br>Who, you ask? The burly fast bowler is
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