IPL 2018: Five interesting players to watch

With IPL XI right around the corner and just days away, we take a look at five interesting players who could have a big impact on the tournament.

Picture credit: Ramesh NG

  1. 1 Lungisani Ngidi (Chennai Super Kings)

    A tall, lanky but somewhat physically imposing fast bowler, the man known as 'Lungi' can consistently hit the 140km mark with his intense seamers.

    Comfortable bowling at any point through a short-form innings, Ngidi has developed a knack of closing out an innings with good, tight bowling and enough variety to cause headaches.

    Ngidi is one of South Africa's rising stars and the Kwa-Zulu Natal Hilton College alumni has been groomed through the country's development pathway all the way from the Under 13 age group.

    Given their investment in Ngidi, South Africa look to have developed a quality bowling option at a time when Morne Morkel is stepping away from the game and stars like Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn are getting on in years.

    For their part, the Chennai Super Kings have scored the sort of player who could provide a consistent four-overs of tight bowling game in, game out.

    The 21-year-old took 6/39 on debut for South Africa against India at Centurion, setting ablaze plenty of interest in his services from the sub-continent.

  2. 2 Nitish Rana (Kolkata Knight Riders)

    Best known for his aggressive approach at the crease, Nitish Rana is another of the rising stars amongst young Indian players. 

    With a strong, left-handed technique and some handy part-time off-spin, Rana was a key performer for a struggling Delhi domestic outfit in 2015-16 with 299 runs, and 21 sixes, to lead batsman throughout the tournament.

    A crunching 97 from 40 balls against Andhra, which included eight sixes, highlighted for Delhi as the reached the semi-finals of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy that season.

    Rana put together a strong Indian Premier League campaign last season and looks to be a solid addition to the batting lineup for the Knight Riders who will expect big things from the 2018 IPL season.

  3. 3 Jofra Archer (Rajasthan Royals)

    One of the undoubted stars of the 2018 Indian Premier League, Jofra Archer enters his first IPL tournament with plenty of expectation and intrigue.

    The West Indian tearaway will need to piece together a strong tournament to live up to the hype. The 23-year-old has generated headlines wherever he has gone and the Rajasthan Royals will be demanding nothing but the very best from the exciting all-rounder.

    Rajasthan were thrown into upheaval with the loss of captain Steve Smith due to Australia's ball-tampering scandal in South Africa, so preparations for the 2018 IPL have been a little tumultuous, but with stars like Archer onboard, they'll make for must-watch cricket at the very least.

  4. 4 Hardik Pandya (Mumbai Indians)

    Having grown into his ability on the international stage for India, 24-year-old Hardik Pandya looms as one of the potential superstars of the 2018 Indian Premier League campaign.

    Signed with the Mumbai Indians, Pandya's figures at international level aren't exactly breathtaking but they're trending in the right direction and his batting average of over 24 on the domestic T20 scene should set him in good stead for the upcoming season with Mumbai.

    Exuberant and brash, Pandya perhaps best represents the modern generation of Indian stars and a distinct departure from the more reserved figures of a bygone era.

    Off the back of a strong Syed Mushtaq Ali domestic Twenty20 tournament with Baroda, Pandya has gone from strength to strength and he sits poised to be the sort of player that could clinch a title for a strong Mumbai side.

    The defending champions have a strong local flavour running through their playing group and they'll be asking guys like Hardik Pandya to step up and perform.

  5. 5 Billy Stanlake (Sunrisers Hyderabad)

    Another side that has lost its captain on the eve of the tournament thanks to David Warner's involvement in Australia's ball-tampering scandal, the Sunrisers Hyderabad will have high expectations for young Australian fast-bowler Billy Stanlake in 2018.

    Stanlake, a tall, bustling quick, was highly impressive for the Adelaide Strikers during the Big Bash League down under and he'll be hoping to bring his tight, consistent bowling to the sub-continent and repay the Sunrisers for their faith in him.

    With a sub-7 runs per over economy rate across his T20 career, Stanlake looms as the sort of bowler who could make a genuine impact on the tournament.

    Which players are you keen to see during the IPL 2018 season? Let us know in the comments below.

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