Almost 400 years old, cricket as a sport is said to have originated in South-East England. The worldwide fanbase of cricket is estimated to be around one billion people, and the Indian Subcontinent accounts for almost 90% of this fanbase.
India has adopted a new and shorter version of the game called the Twenty20 format. The Indian Premier League or the IPL is based on this format. Although the IPL has been around for less than 15 years, it has become the most popular cricket league globally, and its brand value has more than doubled in the last five years.
Today IPL match days are played in India; however, the team rosters are packed with top-notch International talent. Despite this, some of the most popular players are Indian. For example, Virat Kohli is at the top of the list of IPL enthusiasts. There are also other players that have won the hearts of the fans over the years. Here, we have ranked the most popular players in the current edition of the IPL.
32-year-old Viral Kohli is the captain of the Indian cricket team and a world-class right-handed batsman. Although he announced his decision to step down as captain soon after the T20 World Cup, Kohli leaves behind a legacy. He is regarded as the most consistent player of his time and always makes scoring runs look easy. He led India to the No. 1 position in Test cricket rankings and led the Indian cricket team to their first-ever series win in Australia.
Next on the list is Rohit Gurunath Sharma. He has etched his name as the most successful IPL captain, bagging five trophies with the Mumbai Indians, the highest anyone has ever won in the tournament. Fans recollect Sharma having exceptional flair and striking ability that only a few can match up to. Since 2011, Rohit Sharma has been an integral part of the Mumbai Indians team and took up captaincy in the 2013 season leading the team to their maiden IPL title.
Former captain of the Australian national cricket team, David Warner is the star player of SunRisers Hyderabad. Although Warner stepped down as captain midway during the IPL 2021 season, he is still regarded as the most successful overseas batsman in the history of the IPL. He has scored more than 4000 runs during his career. His career suffered a blow in 2018 when ball-tampering allegations were made against him. However, those were cleared up, and he was reinstated in a leadership role. Even today, Warner continues to be a nightmare for bowlers and is loved by audiences across the globe.
One of the most popular cricket players, MS Dhoni, has continued to appear in the news from time to time. Honorary Lieutenant Colonel Dhoni is the former captain of the Indian national cricket team and led the team between 2007 and 2017. In Test cricket, he captained the team from 2008 to 2014. MS Dhoni, popularly known for his wicket-keeping skills, is also a right-handed, middle-order batsman and is regarded as one of the highest run-scorers in One-Day Internationals. Although Dhoni announced his retirement from international cricket on 15 August 2020, he has returned to play in the IPL and is leading the Chennai Super Kings team again.
Abraham Benjamin de Villiers is a famous player and is known for his superhuman batting abilities. Also nicknamed Mr. 360, he can play any shot around the ground. He is amongst the only three batsmen to score three IPL centuries as a top-order player. His exceptional fielding skills are also known to all, and he is referred to as “Superman” due to his acrobatic fielding style. Currently, the wicketkeeper of Royal Challengers Bangalore, South-African de Villers, has a long way to go in his IPL career.
Jamaican player Chris Henry Gayle is considered an all-rounder and is feared as the “Gayle Storm.” His initial few seasons were part of the Kolkata Knight Riders team; Gayle now plays for the Punjab Kings. He is the only player to have hit more than 14000 runs and approximately 1000 sixes in T20 Cricket alone. In the 2011 IPL, Gayle was awarded the Most Valuable Player, and by 2013 he broke the record for the fastest ever Twenty20 century.
Despite maintaining a fantastic image in front of the media, Gayle was rumored to have been involved in a dispute with the West Indies Cricket Board over sponsorship-related issues. Nevertheless, Gayle has been involved in numerous humanitarian issues. For instance, he set up the Chris Gayle Academy to help disabled and underprivileged children in Jamaica and the United Kingdom with the hope of giving them a chance to play the game. Since then, the academy has been very active and has now expanded with the help of quality coaches and ample playing opportunities abroad.
Right-arm fast bowler and right-handed batsman Andre Dwayne Russel currently plays for the Kolkata Knight Riders and is a tremendous finisher. All-rounder Russel made his debut in cricket at the age of 19 and soon started playing in the West Indies national team. With his powerful bowling technique, Andre Russel is a valuable addition to the KKR team.
Today IPL matches are not just enjoyable for the audience, but they are considered a moneymaker for the media. Since 2014, the IPL brand valuation seems to have been on a steep rise showing no signs of slowing down. The evaluation was said to be at USD 6.7 billion as of 2019. With cricket’s popularity declining worldwide, the Indian Premier League might be the kind of league that brings back cricket’s glory days.
Following the IPL, even the United States of America has received a considerable investment to develop a cricket league in the Twenty20 format. Although cricket may not be the first choice of sports enthusiasts in that country, who knows what may change their minds, such is the power of the Indian Premier League.
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