IPL-V: Game changers
The fifth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) boasts a plethora of talent from all corners of the cricketing world. Players like Chris Gayle, Lasith Malinga and David Warner have the power to turn any match around and will be the key to their team's fortunes in the tournament.
Here's a list of stars to watch out for in IPL V:
One name that would be on the lips of every bowler will be that of explosive West Indian batsman Chris Gayle. The man from the Caribbean took the tournament by storm in 2011 after being overlooked in the player auction.
Gayle was brought in as a replacement for Australian pacer Dirk Nannes and played a crucial role in Royal Challengers' journey to the final. He struck two hundreds, three half-centuries and picked up eight wickets as the Bangalore outfit were thwarted in the final by the Chennai Super Kings. Gayle was the highest run-getter in last year's competition with 608 runs at an average of 67.55.
The slinging action of the Sri Lankan pacer has up-rooted many a stumps and Mumbai Indians will once again rely on his toe-crushing yorkers to put the opposition on the back foot.
In the past few years Malinga has been one of the most successful bowlers in Twenty20 cricket. His ability to take wickets and bowl economically is an asset for any team. The Sri Lankan took 28 wickets last year winning the purple cap and was also one of the most economical bowlers.
A sitting duck in Test cricket but as soon as the format changes to Twenty20, India's middle order batsman Raina turns into a completely different player. The left-hander has been a revelation for the Chennai Super Kings in the IPL and has plundered runs in all the seasons.
Raina is the top run-getter in all four IPLs combined. He has scored a mammoth 1813 runs with an average of 36.26 and a strike rate of 140.32.
In David Warner, the Delhi Daredevils have found the perfect partner for their captain Virender Sehwag. The diminutive Australian has been in sparkling form on national duty and has become a key member for the Australian team in all formats.
In the last T20 against the Windies, Warner smashed a brilliant 58 and was the main contributor for the Australians in their Commonwealth Bank Series triumph where he scored back to back centuries against the Lankans in the best of three finals.
Captain of the Kolkata Knight Riders, Gambhir will hold they key to his team's fortunes in the tournament. The elegant left-hander can be a brutal hitter at the top of the order.
Along with New Zealand's Brendon Cullum, Gambhir can form one of the most dangerous opening partnerships in the IPL. After a dip in performance, Gambhir once again found his form in the ODI tri-series in Australia and also did well for India in the Asia Cup.
Tear away South African pacer Steyn, will lead the Deccan Chargers attack in the absence of India's Ishant Sharma. His pace and swing has troubled many a batsman, and with a team short on batting heavyweights, it would be up to the South African to restrict the opposition.
Last year, Steyn took 14 wickets with an economy rate of 6.57 and will once again look to replicate his past performances.
The former wicketkeeper batsman of Australia donned the role of captain and coach for the Kings XI Punjab in 2011. One of the most destructive batsman in world cricket, Gilchrist's lack of match practice might turn out to be his achilles heel.
Punjab, the 2008 runners-up will have a lot riding on the Australian at the top of the order. Gilchrist will have to carry the team on his shoulders as they are short in big name players.
Pune Warriors, who managed only four wins out of fourteen matches in the last season, will be hoping New Zealand all-rounder Jesse Ryder can set the tournament alight.
However, this might be a lot to ask from the left-hander who was suspended from breaking team rules by drinking alcohol while injured after New Zealand's second one-day international against South Africa, February 29. Ryder then took a break from the sport to deal with fitness and personal issues.
Rajasthan Royals, the perennial underdogs of the IPL, will once again rely on the exploits of Australian all-rounder Shane Watson.
Watson will open the innings for the Royals for the fifth consecutive time and is rated as one of the most devastating batsmen in world cricket. The Australian known for his big hitting can easily intimidate any opposition bowler. Though, like many other Australians he would only be available at the end of the month when he returns from the Windies tour.