The 14th edition of the Indian Premier League gets underway next week, with some of cricket’s biggest names gearing up for almost two months of blockbuster action.
Last year’s IPL was held in Dubai due to the Covid-19 pandemic, although the tournament will return to India this time around. It will be held in six different venues across the country.
This year’s tournament will be staged between April 9 and May 30.
The IPL14 auction, held in January, saw a host of top names receive big money contracts. South Africa’s Chris Morris was the most expensive buy at 16.25 crore (£1.6 million), with the all-rounder joining up with the Rajasthan Royals.
The IPL has earned a reputation as cricket’s biggest domestic T20 tournament. It features the world’s best white-ball cricketers from across the globe, as well as the top cricketers from India.
Each team is allowed up to eight overseas players, with a maximum of four able to named in the team at any one time.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at five overseas players – a mixture of batsmen, all-rounders and bowlers – who have had big impacts on their franchises since the inaugural IPL in 2008:
Lasith Malinga (Mumbai Indians)
Lasith Malinga has been one of the most fearsome fast bowlers of his era.
Armed with an unusual round-arm action, the Sri Lankan took four wickets in four balls in a 2007 World Cup match against South Africa and was bought by Mumbai Indians for the inaugural edition of the IPL in 2008.
Malinga stayed with the team until his retirement from franchise cricket earlier this year.
He helped Mumbai to a record five IPL titles, and is the franchise’s leading wicket taker.
And who can forget his last over in the final in 2019? With opponents Chennai Super Kings needing two runs off the final ball of the innings to win, Malinga produced an inch-perfect yorker to trap Shardul Thakur lbw and win the tournament for MI.
Chris Gayle (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
Chris Gayle is the most successful batsman in the history of T20 cricket, boasting over 13,000 runs in the format, more than any other player.
Last year, the West Indian became the first player ever to hit 1,000 T20 sixes.
His impact on the IPL over the years has been equally as impressive. Gayle currently plays for Punjab Kings, although he spent seven seasons with Royal Challengers Bangalore, where he averaged a remarkable 59 or above in each of his three seasons.
He hit the fastest IPL century in history in 2013, smashing 100 from just 30 balls. He ended the innings on 175 not out – also the highest T20 score of all-time.
Shane Watson (Chennai Super Kings)
It’s the IPL final of 2018. Chennai Super Kings require a daunting 179 to win. Step forward Shane Watson.
The Australian all-rounder blitzed a stunning unbeaten century as CSK won by eight wickets with nine balls to spare.
It was a fitting way to end the tournament for a man who excelled in the big moments.
His monstrous innings contained 11 fours and eight sixes, with 27 runs coming off a single over.
Watson scored 299 runs last season at an average of 29, but CSK were ultimately eliminated in the group stages. That 2018 final innings, though, will live long in the memory.
Rashid Khan (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
Since being bought by Sunrisers in 2017, Rashid Khan has had a major impact on the IPL.
IPL franchises traditionally look more towards batsmen, all-rounders and fast bowlers to fill up their overseas quota rather than spin bowlers, but leg-spinner Rashid’s international record with Afghanistan was too impressive to ignore.
He has taken at least 17 wickets in each of his four IPL seasons, and helped Sunrisers to the final in 2018.
The 22-year-old is also a handy contributor with bat in hand, although IPL opposition are yet to see the full extent of his run-scoring ability.
AB de Villiers (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
One of the few overseas players to feature in every edition of the IPL, AB de Villiers is one of the most destructive and free-scoring batsmen ever to grace the competition.
His partnership at the top of the order with Indian captain Virat Kohli has developed into one of the IPL’s most reliable.
In all bar one of the last six seasons, the former South Africa international has recorded a batting average in excess of 40.
He can play shots all around the field, as well as being able to change the tempo of an innings seamlessly. De Villiers is the second-highest run scorer, behind Kohli, for Royal Challengers Bangalore since joining them in 2011.
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