2020 was a pretty weird year for everyone. The pandemic struck us at the beginning of the year and since then, everything went haywire. It was a pretty weird year for cricket fans too, as they could not see much of the cricketing action that they had anticipated for.
It was in the second half of the year when cricket resumed, but not as we hoped for. Being away from cricket for a while, many players admitted that for them, it was like making their debut again, and thus many couldn’t perform to their full potential.
But, that’s all in the past now, and cricket has resumed in its full-fledged form. We have a whole year, full of cricketing action, ahead of us. 2021 is the year where everything gets back to normalcy.
Keeping that in mind, here’s a list of 10 players who we think will dominate the game of cricket in the upcoming season: –
1. Virat Kohli
2020 was sort of a mixed year for Virat Kohli. On one hand, the Indian captain failed to score a single century in international cricket this year, but on the other, he became the fastest player in the game to reach 12,000 runs in One Day Internationals.
His highest score this year was 89 that he scored in an ODI game against Australia earlier this year. Even though 2020 was not as good as Virat Kohli would have expected it to be, one can not ignore the fact that he’s one of the greatest players in modern Cricket.
With important tours such as England and South African and tournaments like the Asia Cup and the T20 World Cup lined up in the next year, the Indian skipper is all set to bounce back and rise up to the top like a legend that he is.
2. Steve Smith
Test Cricket and Steve Smith are synonymous to each other. The former Australian captain has been a prodigy in the format in the last few years, almost impossible to get out.
He did hit a bit of a bump when he was banned on account of ball-tampering, but the classic right-hander has come back in the game stronger than ever and has shown why cricket pundits often call him the test GOAT.
His 2020 has been pretty average so far, as he didn’t get to play much. He’s just played 3 innings in Test cricket so far this year. Even after that, the batsman stands at the top in rankings in Test cricket.
He still has a match left this year, the boxing day Test match against India, and with Kohli taking a paternal leave, all eyes would be on him. He has the chance to start his 2021 with a flurry, and there’s no doubt that he’ll be one of the leading run-scorers in the game in the coming season.
3. Babar Azam
Babar Azam is the latest addition to the so-called ‘Fab 4’, making it ‘Fab 5’ now, along with Steve Smith, Virat Kohli, Joe Root and Kane Williamson. Ever since his debut in 2015, Babar Azam is on a highway of making and breaking records.
Wherever he goes, he makes heads turn with his class and talent, irrespective of the format. The Pakistan limited-overs skipper stands 3rd at the ODI rankings, below Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. For a long time, Pakistan wanted a stable batsman at number 3, and Babar Azam caters to all of their needs.
His ability to keep the scoreboard ticking without taking much risk make him a standout player. In the recent years, he’s played a lot of county T-20 in England, so he’s prepared for almost all kinds of pitches and conditions. With two big limited-overs tournaments – the Asia Cup and the T-20 World Cup lined up next year, Babar Azam will leave a big impact next year.
4. Hardik Pandya
Hardik Pandya is one of the most destructive batsmen in the world right now. With a strike rate of about a 115 in ODIs and nearly 150 in T-20Is, he surely can tonk the ball to any part of the ground at will.
He has had a rather spectacular 2020, scoring 281 runs for the Mumbai Indians in the IPL at a strike rate of 178 and was the leading run-getter for India in the recently concluded One Day series against Australia. Over the years, Hardik Pandya has evolved a lot as a cricketer.
His basic approach is not just ram-bam-thankyou man sort of gameplay anymore. He’s learned patience, he knows how to play according to the situation, his strides are getting better and he’s hitting the ball better than ever.
He has hit a bit of a rough patch with bowling after his surgery, but he will be back to it in a few months or so. Ever since Kapil Dev retired, India have always been on the lookout for a good fast bowling all-rounder and they have found one in Hardik Pandya. With the kind of form he is in and once he starts bowling again, he will be unstoppable in 2021.
5. Sam Curran
If we talk about the best all-rounders in the game, a name that has caught everyone’s eyes in the last few years is Sam Curran. Curran has been a consistent member of the England cricket team over the last couple of years in all the formats of the game.
He was unlucky not to be picked for the World Cup squad for England last year but he surely has made his presence felt in the international as well as the domestic arena. The fact that he’s young and yet possesses a great temperament make him a great contender for England’s T20I squad for the World Cup next year.
In the recently concluded IPL, playing for the Chennai Super Kings, the 22-year-old has shown that he’s ready for any challenge he’s faced with. The more opportunities he gets in 2021, the more he’ll impress everyone around.
6. Shubman Gill
A talented batsman from the beautiful land of Punjab, India, Shubman Gill rose to fame with his blistering performance at the 2018 U-19 World Cup, where he scored 418 runs at a whopping average of 104.50. A textbook player, Gill has been the talk of the town for a while now, receiving applause from the likes of legends like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and the Indian skipper Virat Kohli as well.
Gill has been a part of the Kolkata Knight Riders for the last three seasons and an integral one in fact. At times, he’s proved his mettle in the field, winning the games single-handedly for his franchise. He’s been knocking at the doors of the national team for a while now but hasn’t been given enough chances yet.
He is a part of the ongoing Test series against Australia but was ignored by the team management despite performing well in the practice games. It was a surprise to see Prithvi Shaw being given a priority over the 21-year-old, even though he didn’t have the best of the IPL seasons or practice games.
With Virat Kohli going back home for his paternal leave, Gill’s selection is almost confirmed for the boxing day Test match. He has the opportunity to leave a mark and we are sure that he will not let it slide.
7. Anrich Nortje
From a long history of legendary fast bowlers such as Makhaya Ntini, Dale Steyn, Allan Donald and others, comes another fast-bowling prodigy Anrich Nortje. Bowling alongside the likes of Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi, the addition of Anrich Nortje has made the South African pace attack currently the fastest in the world.
Playing for the Delhi Capitals this year in the IPL, Nortje managed to pick up 22 wickets from the 16 games that he played, while clicking 150 kmph on a number of occasions. It is not just his pace that sends chills down the spine of batsmen, but also the line that he bowls which unsettles them.
Be it the new ball or the old one, Nortje can hit his length right, while managing to swing it both ways. He has had a pretty decent year, and if he continues his form the next year as well, he and South Africa will be unstoppable.
8. Tim Siefert
From the amazing Wanganui region of New Zealand, comes the stylish right-handed wicketkeeper-batsman Tim Siefert. He started as a middle-order batsman in T20, where he struggled to make an impact. Ever since the management trusted him with the role of an opener, he’s come up to everyone’s expectations, smashing the ball to all parts of the ground without throwing his wicket away.
In New Zealand’s recently concluded T20 series against Pakistan, he was the highest run-getter for them. His performance earned him appreciations from the likes of Brendon McCullum and Stephen Fleming, who shared a funny banter about acquiring him for their respective IPL franchises.
For the last decade or so, New Zealand are used to having a devastating opener, all credits to Brendon McCullum and Colin Munro. Tim Siefert playing the attacking game allows Martin Guptill to play his natural game and anchor the innings and attack whenever required. New Zealand have a long season ahead of themselves and Tim Siefert dominating will make sure that they rise to the top.
9. Dawid Malan
Another top tier T20 batsman that has been exceptionally well in the last couple of years is England’s, Dawid Malan. In just 19 games, the 33-year-old left-hander has managed to get to the number one spot in ICC T20 international rankings.
Even though he’s made a late appearance in international cricket, his agility and striking are as good as any youngster out there. Making his debut against South Africa in 2017, Malan smashed the likes of Morris, Morkel and Tahir to all parts of the ground, scoring a 44 ball 78.
Even during the 2017-2018 Ashes, while the entire English team succumbed to the Australian attack, losing the series by 4-0, Malan was the lone standout performer for them.
He specialises in the shortest format of the game, and with the T20 World Cup lined for the next year, he will be the most important batsman for England in the shortest format of the game in the upcoming season.
10. T Natarajan
Natarajan was probably the find of this year’s IPL. With his pace and toe-crushing yorkers, the left-arm paceman impressed everyone with his skills. He was awarded for his brilliant performance in the IPL and called up into the national squad as a backup for the injured Varun Chakravarthy for the T20 series against Australia.
He made his debut for the team in the last ODI and left an impact on the field. In the T20 series as well, while Bumrah was rested, he didn’t let his absence felt and took charge of the Indian pace attack himself.
India have been on the lookout of a good left-arm pacer for a long time now and in a scenario like that, Natarajan comes bearing great potential and it is safe to say that he will be one of India’s leading paceman in the upcoming season.
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
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