Champions trophy: The deadly five

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    Frankly speaking, this year’s IPL has failed to deliver the same goosebumps and adrenaline that it once did.

    Last-ball finishes, big maximums and making the impossible possible are now terms that occur as often as weekdays – and weekdays are horribly boring. But amid all this T20 frenzy the clock to the Champions Trophy is ticking at a glacial pace. Dear time, please speed up, because I simply cannot wait to witness this thrilling tournament.

    Short and crisp, this 18-day competition holds a very special place in my heart, because four years ago it had me falling in love with cricket. This is where my cricket journey commenced, and after some unsuccessful ventures picking up the bat and ball – I’m still trying! – I decided I was better off watching the game, and as I dosed myself with more and more cricket, I developed a hobby of reading articles. So why shouldn’t I write one?

    I could go on and on about the beauty of the game, but that wouldn’t do much other than to send you into a state of boredom. Instead, because arithmetic is definitely my thing, I settled on writing about the most deadly players – those who I believe can single-handedly take out games for their nation in this heated tournament. This list features five batsmen who will leave your jaw open this year.

    1. Faf du Plessis
    My list begins with the leading run scorer in one-day internationals for South Africa, Faf du Plesiss. South Africa’s regular T20 captain scored nearly 1400 runs in ten matches at a stunning average of 73.62. Against a weakened Sri Lankan bowling attack he smashed his career-best 185 at an astonishing strike rate of 131. His innings, which featured 16 fours and three sixes, demolished Sri Lanka and led South Africa to a 4-0 series win over the visitors. The most remarkable part of his innings was his temperament and pace. He was never too slow to let the pressure build on him and never too quick to give away his wicket. These characteristics can add up to a destructive ODI batsman.

    2. AB de Villiers
    Where to start? Mr 360 or Mr Consistent, this man is a freak. Every time he comes down the crease you can expect at least a 50, if not a hundred. For many years the South African captain has been the perfect anchor, getting his team out of any trouble. He’s been in red-hot form, and recently he played a magical innings in the IPL, single-handedly getting his team out of some serious trouble. At 71 runs in the 15th over his team was struggling to score on a batting beauty. “Enough is enough,” said De Villiers, and he turned into a hyena. From 31 off 28 balls, he starved his batting parter and scavenged strike. From there he went berserk, smashing 59 off only 18 balls at a strike rate of 193, doubling his teams 15-over score. I don’t believe you need any more stats to understand what a freak this man is.

    3. David Warner
    I sometimes get confused between whether Warner if a leftie or righty considering how many unbelievable switch hits he pulls out during the most unexpected phases of a match. The little man is like BMac was to New Zealand and Chris Gayle is to the Windies – a blazing starter; he can be a serious threat to the wallets of the fireworks guys. I am sure the cheerleaders hate him too. After being the leading run-scorer in ODIs in 2016 – he chalked up 1388 runs at an average of 63 – he continued his formidable form in 2017, scoring 367 runs at an average of 73. Even now in the IPL he stands as a serious contender for the orange cap, with 282 runs at an average of 56. If he gets going, he’s simply gone!

    4. Virat Kohli
    A ridiculous, unbelievable, alien, run-machine, Sachin Tendulkaresque – and that’s just a fraction of the list of adjectives I could use to describe this man. King Kohli had made his mark in 2016, when he Bradmanesquely scored 739 runs at a mammoth average of 92, but then came a slump in form thanks to a shoulder injury. But kings never fall; they get up and fight on. And so in the IPL Kohli has restarted his rivalry with the mother nature, troubling her with all the flames he sets off every time he scores another one of those fifties or hundreds – he must be a significant contributor to global warming. He’s a one man army.

    5. Steven Smith
    Who knew that a leggie would turn into one of Australia’s greatest batsman? Grit and determination are two of his greatest weapons, and his desires have powered him to shatter longstanding records. From the turners in India to the swing in English country, he has comfortably tackled every condition and every situation. Now he stands like a pillar in the Australian line-up, ready to deflate any opposition. His ODI record this year is usual for his standards – 221 runs at an average of 55 – but his recent heroics in the Test series in India and his outstanding form in the IPL surely make him amongst the tallest mountains to conquer. He will very willingly like to captain his young team to their first Champions Trophy victory.

    So here they are: the deadliest batsman to watch this IPL. What do you make of the list?