I previously revealed my picks for players to watch out for Saturday’s doubleheader, and here’s who I will be keeping an eye out for on Sunday.
Hyderabad – Johnny Bairstow
Opener Johnny Bairstow was sensational in 2019 and has continued in the same vein, racking up 280 runs in eight matches. While his strike rate has dipped from 157.24 to 129.03, he has been incredibly reliable alongside captain David Warner at the top of the batting order. He has already hit three fifties this season, including a brilliant 97 against Punjab. However, he is coming off a couple of disappointing knocks by his own lofty standards and will be yearning to get it right against Kolkata, against whom he scored just five in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.
Kolkata – Shubman Gill
Another classy young Indian opener, Shubman Gill has been outstanding for Kolkata this season and his stock continues to rise with every passing game. I felt he was brilliant against Punjab, anchoring the team right from the get-go. Gill has shown maturity beyond his years this season and what strikes me most about this exciting youngster is his consistency with the bat. Only twice this season has he been dismissed for a score of under 25, and when an opener sets the tempo the way Gill does, it’s just easier for the rest of the batsmen to get going when they walk in. I'm very excited to see what the future holds for Gill.
Mumbai – Rohit Sharma
If you remember, I had predicted big things for Rohit Sharma this season and certainly, he has shown us once again that when he gets in the groove, no boundary is far enough, no bowler is smart enough and no score is out of reach. Mumbai's talisman has been among the runs for his side this season and only Suryakumar Yadav has managed to pile more runs for the defending champions in 2020. Punjab bowlers have been hot and cold this season, but they will need to bring their A-game on Sunday because once Sharma gets going, it’s time to look to the heavens for answers to stop him.
Punjab – Mayank Agarwal
No player has surprised me more than Mayank Agarwal this season. His record in red-ball cricket is simply impeccable and he’s among India's best in the longest format of the game. While his credentials in limited-overs cricket have always been up for debate, he’s put those to rest by letting his bat do the talking this season. Agarwal is closing in on 400 runs for the season and he’s even managed to knock Chris Gayle down from the opening spot to No. 3 in Punjab's batting lineup. Agarwal and his opening partner KL Rahul have played a lot of domestic cricket together and it shows in their chemistry in running between the wickets and their ability to switch between aggressor and anchor. Rahul is one of the finest batsmen in T20 cricket but Agarwal has proven that he’s no slouch either.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Manan Vatsyayana