Edition 7 of the Indian Premier League has got off to a rousing start. The usual suspects were in the forefront as Kolkata Knight Riders defeated defending champions Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the opening match at Abu Dhabi. Jacques Kallis, enjoying an almost retired life from international cricket, Lasith Malinga, Sunil Narine and young Manish Pandey grabbed a fair share of Day 1 spotlight for good reasons. The rival skippers Gautam Gambhir (KKR) and Rohit Sharma (MI) were relatively unimpressive. But this is just the start of a very long and grueling tournament. After the first leg in UAE, the tournament moves to India in May and the final is scheduled in June 1 in Mumbai. (IPL amazing stats: Gambhir's 8th duck, Narine's fastest 50)
Twenty20 cricket can destroy reputations and make some, too. Scripts can go for a toss as the shortest format of the game is like speed, which thrills but kills as well. Here's a list of 11 players who can find themselves in the tournament's Fantasy XI. But at the end of it all, the final story be totally different. (Can IPL 2014 rise above the scams?)
Michael Hussey (Mumbai Indians): The Australian veteran proved there was very little correlation between age and the slam-bang version of the game as he put in some good performances as Chennai Super Kings' opening batsman in the last couple of seasons. He now has a new team in Mumbai Indians, who have grappled with the problem of finding a good opening pair. They have tried different combinations in the past and have struggled to find a batsman who could give them a solid start early on in the game. That is where Hussey comes in. With no international commitments, Hussey will be fit and fresh to lead Mumbai Indians' fortunes upfront. (Top 5 batsmen | Top 5 bowlers)
Chris Gayle (Royal Challengers Bangalore): There can't be a fantasy league team sans Chris Gayle. Naturally aggressive and menacingly brutal, there are seldom any boundary lines in the world that this big-hitting West Indian can't clear with ease. If the opposition spinners fail to keep him down, expect nothing less than devastation from him. The burning desire to overturn his indifferent World Twenty20 form will give Gayle more reasons to strike the ball harder and send the crowds ducking for cover.