One of the best things about the Karbonn Smart Champions League Twenty20 2013 is the calibre of talent it brings together. That being said, here are five players to keep an eye out for over the next three weeks.
Shane Watson - Rajasthan Royals
A case could be made that Shane Watson is the greatest T20 player ever. Sound crazy? Currently the number one ranked T20 all-rounder in the world, Watson won most valuable player awards across two seasons of the IPL (2008 & 2013) and ICC World T20 player of the tournament last year, where he was man of the match in the first four games. His destructive power is matched by few in world cricket, bashing teams all around the ground with every shot in the book. Then you throw in his bowling, which is of a quality so high it earns him selection alone. Variation of pace, deadly accuracy and a fiery attitude make him difficult to tame. Is he the greatest T20 player ever? You could make a case for it.
Dale Steyn - Sunrisers Hyderabad
Dale Steyn can do it all with the ball. He's got searing pace, hooping swing and surgeon-like accuracy. But the one thing that separates him from the rest of the pack is his hatred for batsmen. Like a bull to a red rag, Steyn's nostrils flair, brow furrows and blood boils when he sees a man with a bat in his hand 22-yards away. No matter what the format, the South African tyro is incredibly difficult to get away at all stages of an innings. One could think that the slow, low Indian decks wouldn't suit him, and that's a fair question. In the IPL earlier this year Steyn bowled 219 dot balls - more than anyone in the tournament. Fascinating to watch, unless you're holding a bat.
Sunil Narine - Trinidad & Tobago
The number one T20 bowler in the world and for good reason - he can't be picked. Narine's control of the ball is jaw-dropping. Dancing between his fingertips, the white ball sashays its way down the wicket, preparing to fool the man at the other end with scrambled seam and unpredictable movement. Opponents now see him off rather than attack, deciding safety and wickets in hand is worth more than an offensive gamble. If T&T are to make the semi-finals it will be off the back, or should we say from the fingers, of Narine and his myriad deliveries.
Mitchell Johnson - Mumbai Indians
He sometimes bowls to the left and has been known to bowl to the right, but in T20 cricket, Mitchell Johnson's bowling is more than all right. The left-arm quick has shown in the recent limited overs series in England his white ball form is as good as anyone's. The pace is right up there. The terrifying bounce is back. And the swing is swirling. His IPL form was outstanding - 24 wickets at 19 at just over seven runs per over. His unpredictability has become more predictable, allowing his captains to set attacking fields and cause more mayhem. Dangerous with the bat, Johnson will have the Mumbai fans chanting a different tune this time around.
AB de Villiers - Titans
Every inch of a cricket field is accessible to AB de Villiers. He's got all the conventional shots - cover-drives, pulls, glides, nudges - but his real skill (not that those shots don't require skill) is unconventionally working the ball to where the players are not. Reverse sweeps, ramps, planks - de Villiers has them all. One of the best players to watch when he gets going, AB's trademark powerful slog on one-knee has produced him countless runs in T20 cricket. If he takes the gloves for the Titans he'll provide experience and security behind the stumps. If there's a tight run-chase on and AB is at he crease you'd have to back the South African to deliver. He can score runs anywhere.