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Players to watch out for in CLT20

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Many call it a sidekick to the Indian Premier League. But for individual players, the Champions League Twenty20 is another platform for players to make a mark in the shortest format of the game. As the tournament moves into its sixth edition, many players from different clubs have come together for this event over the years. This time too, it promises to be no different and its primary focus remains entertainment.

Gocricket.com analyses a few key performers who can make this edition of the CLT20 a memorable one with their exploits with both bat and ball.

Suresh Raina (Chennai Super Kings) – Raina has been the leading run-scorer across all seasons of the Indian Premier League with 3325 runs at an average of over 35. Recently, his presence in India’s one-day squad against England changed the outlook of the side which received a mauling in the Test series. Ever since his comeback in the limited-overs fixture after being dropped from the New Zealand ODI series, Raina has looked more determined and equally assured. His CLT20 stats read 608 runs from 19 matches. He is a live wire on the field and possesses a canny ability to pick up wickets – as seen during the England ODIs.

Faf du Plessis (Chennai Super Kings) – Du Plessis might not be the best technically-sound batsman but he surely is one of the most improved cricketers over the last few months. In the recently-concluded tri-series in Zimbabwe, the 30-year-old batsman amassed a mind-boggling 464 runs in five games: three centuries and a 96. Du Plessis has managed 121 runs from four matches in the only edition of the CLT20 he participated in and hasn’t played many games in the IPL too. But considering the kind of form he is in, Du Plessis presents a strong case for a sure-shot inclusion.

Kane Williamson (Northern Districts) – New Zealand great Martin Crowe recently tipped Williamson to be one of the four young batsmen who will rule Test cricket in the coming decade. However, that doesn’t demean the 24-year-old’s credentials in the shortest format. Williamson scored 107 runs in the three matches (highest of an unbeaten 79 against Otago Volts) he has played for the Northern Districts, who won the HRV Cup earlier this year.

Williamson’s reputation has improved over the past year and he is seen as one of New Zealand’s most consistent batsmen. He has been scoring runs across all three formats and must continue to do so in order to see his side go through.

Mitchell Marsh (Perth Scorchers) – Marsh recently caught the attention of the Australian selectors during a tri-series match in Zimbabwe, where he smashed Dale Steyn for three consecutive sixes in an over. In the absence of his brother Shaun Marsh, Mitchelll will have plenty of responsibilities on his shoulders when the Perth Scorchers – winners of Big Bash League – begin their campaign on September 20 against the Dolphins.

Marsh scored 215 runs in 10 games for the Scorchers during the BBL and later build on that promising gush with the bat during the tri-series. His 211 for Australia A against India A in a first-class match was encouraging. He is also coming off a Sheffield Shield season that brought 493 runs at 37.92 for him, more runs at a better average than his brother.

Ben Dunk (Hobart Hurricanes) – Dunk owned the BBL 2013/14 season with a staggering 395 runs from 10 matches and was named Player of the Tournament. He excelled as an opener for the Hurricanes and made two of the three highest scores during the tournament – 96 against the Sydney Thunder and 87 against the Brisbane Heat. He got just three matches for MI during IPL 7 and he failed to impress. The Hurricanes are among the weaker squads in the tournament but Dunk’s presence gives the team a lot of hope.

Kieron Pollard (Mumbai Indians) – Appointed skipper of the Mumbai-based franchise, no ground is too big for Pollard. He is coming off a match-winning 89 against Bangladesh in the first ODI, in addition to a successful CPL campaign, where he led Barbados Tridents to their first title. Pollard has a healthy record with MI: 96 matches, 63 wickets, over 1,700 runs with more than 100 sixes – 29 of which came in the 2013 season of the IPL. And now since he is in charge, we might just see him bat higher.

Corey Anderson (Mumbai Indians) – A little over a month after Anderson broke Shahid Afridi’s 18-year-old record of the fastest ODI century, he was roped in by MI in a move than wasn’t considered a wise one. Anderson didn’t do well in the first half of IPL 7 as MI lost their first six matches. But as the side bounced back in the second half, so did the New Zealand allrounder. His epic 44-ball 95 helped MI go through to the playoffs against Rajasthan Royals in a nerve-wrecking contest. Since then, Anderson hasn’t played much. He was replaced by fellow New Zealand allrounder Jimmy Neesham in the Guyana squad three weeks before the CPL after the board expressed concerns over Anderson’s fitness.

Glenn Maxwell (Kings XI Punjab) – Maxwell had an explosive beginning to IPL 7, setting the stage on fire in the UAE leg with scores of 95 (CSK), 89* (RR), 95 (Sunrisers Hyderabad) and then continued the fireworks when the event moved to India – 90 (CSK). However, he lost his momentum thereafter as the event progressed and finished third in the leading run-scorers list. Recently, Maxwell scored 93 against Zimbabwe but couldn’t quite carry it forward in the next few games.

What keeps him in good stead for the CLT20 is the fact that his recent List-A outings have been quite impressive. He’s scored two centuries – 146 for Hampshire against Lancashire in the Royal London one-day Cup and 107 for Hants 2nd XI against Kent 2nd XI in a South Division game.

Sunil Narine (Kolkata Knight Riders) – The wily West Indies spinner continues to bamboozle oppositions and his wicket-maiden super-over for the Guyana Amazon Warriors in the Caribbean Premier League is just another example of how difficult he is to face. With a total of 27 wickets from 15 matches, Narine remains one of the few bowlers with an economy rate of under 4.50 in CLT20. After shepherding Kolkata Knight Riders to two IPL titles in the last three years, it will be interesting to see if Narine can finally spin KKR to their first CLT20 glory.

Lasith Malinga (Mumbai Indians) – Two-time CLT20 winners and defending champions Mumbai Indians received a huge boost when Malinga opted for the Reliance-owned franchise over his Sri Lankan side Southern Express. Malinga didn’t have the best of seasons in IPL 7 (16 wickets from 10 games with a best of 4/23) and left the side midway for national duty. Hence, he would be keen on making amends this time around. Despite being far from his best in the two ODI series against South Africa and Pakistan, Malinga remains a key for player for MI if they are to go beyond the qualifiers and win the tournament for a third time.

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