The stars to follow in IPL 3
The Indian Premier League, since its inception in 2008, has had its share of good performances, players who have proved themselves worthy of every penny their franchisees have spent on them.
Ahead of the third edition of the Indian Premier League, rediff.com takes a look at the players who will be crucial to their team's fortunes.
Adam Gilchrist (Deccan Chargers)
The Australian inspired Deccan Chargers to the title last season, a year after the Hyderabad outfit had finished with the wooden spoon.
Gilchrist has so far aggregated 436 runs from 14 games in the first season and 495 from 16 matches in the second.
Sure, he is keen to not only add to the tally, but also continue his good run as captain.
Image: Adam Gilchrist
An asset for the Chargers
Rohit Sharma (Deccan Chargers)
He is still struggling to establish his foothold on the international scene, but as regards the IPL, Rohit Sharma is a vital cog in Deccan Chargers' scheme of things.
Be it his 362 runs with the blade or his 11 wickets (including a hat-trick), they were crucial contributions in the Hyderabad franchise's title run.
Image: Rohit Sharma
Bangalore will expect a lot from him
Manish Pandey (Bangalore Royal Challengers)
The youngster is the only Indian to have registered a hundred in the IPL.
And his recent form (in the domestic season, including that brilliant ton against Mumbai in the Ranji final) suggests, Bangalore Royal Challengers can expect more exploits from him in the third edition.
Image: Manish Pandey
Taylor-made for the IPL
Ross Taylor (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
He can hit big and has a knack of playing interesting cameos.
And he is a man in form, if his exploits in the ongoing series against Australia is anything to go by.
In Jesse Ryder's absence. Bangalore Royal Challengers will expect a bit more from Taylor.
Going by his current form, he won't disappoint.
Image: Ross Taylor
Virender Sehwag (Delhi Daredevils)
He is regarded as one of the most dangerous batsmen in world cricket.
He can destroy bowling attacks in the space of few overs and is virtually unstoppable when in full flow.
He scored more than 400 runs in the inagural edition but managed just 198 (in 11 matches) in the last.
But with no captaincy burden this season, Sehwag's blade might just be doing the slaying.
Image: Virender Sehwag
An asset in the T20 format
David Warner (Delhi Daredevils)
David Warner announced himself with a blazing 89 from 43 deliveries, opening the innings in his Twenty20 International debut against South Africa last year.
He has grown from strength to strength thereafter and established himself in the shortest format.
Imagine what can happen if he and Sehwag get going simultaneously.
Image: David Warner
Orange Cap winner of last year
Matthew Hayden (Chennai Super Kings)
He may have quit international cricket but Matthew Hayden is still one of the best batsmen around.
The winner of the Orange Cap last year - as the tournament's highest scorer with 572 runs - Hayden's performaces will be crucial to Chennai Super Kings' fortunes this year.
The Australian also smashed 189 runs in just four matches in the inaugural edition.
Fresh from a long break, the bulky left-hander will be itching to do what he does best -- smash the bowlers all around the park.
Image: Matthew Hayden
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Chennai Super Kings)
In the inaugural edition, MS Dhoni all but took his Chennai team to the IPL crown, as they lost to the Rajasthan Royals off the last ball in a thrilling final.
The second season was disappointing - as he team couldn't progress beyond the last four.
But he has a strong, balanced team at his disposal ahead of the third edition and will be looking to set the records straight.
Image: MS Dhoni
The wily old fox
Shane Warne (Rajasthan Royals)
What do we say about Shane Warne?
The manner in which he inspired a not-so-highly-rated Rajasthan Royals to the title in the inaugural edition is still afresh.
The team did struggle in the second edition, but Warne's masterstroke as a captain was still evident - in matches like the one against the Kolkata Knight Riders.
The wily old fox must surely have conjured up some tricks for the season ahead.
Image: Shane Warne
A man in form
Yusuf Pathan (Rajasthan Royals)
On his day, Yusuf Pathan can destroy any bowling attack.
Twenty20 is his cup of tea, as he proved in the earlier two editions.
And if his recent performances, in the domestic and international scene are anything to go by, he is certainly the man in form.
Image: Yusuf Pathan
No captaincy might be a blessing
Yuvraj Singh (Kings XI Punjab)
Yuvraj Singh is not the captain of Kings XI Punjab in the third edition.
That's a monkey of his back as he seemed to struggle to balance the two roles.
Spectators can now expect him to go full throttle.
Image: Yuvraj Singh
Will lead Kings XI this time
Kumar Sangakkara (Kings XI Punjab)
The Sri Lankan will, in this third edition, lead the Kings XI Punjab outfit.
Regarded as one of the best wicketkeeper-batsmen of the modern era, Kumar Sangakkara has made a vital contributions in the last two editions.
His wicketkeeping too was top-notch and under his leadership the Mohali outfit can hope to do better than last year.
Image: Kumar Sangakkara
Master Blaster is in full form
Sachin Tendulkar (Mumbai Indians)
No words will be good enough to describe the Master Blaster.
The Mumbai Indians' skipper though will be focussing to put the disappointment of the past two seasons behind him.
Let his bat to the talking.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar
The costliest purchase this fall
Kieron Pollard (Mumbai Indians)
The biggest purchase in the third auction, Kieron Pollard showcased his prowess in the inagural Champions League.
And that belligerent display was enough to convince the Mumbai Indians' bosses to invest an undisclosed amount to buy him.
Whether he fulfils his immense potential remains to be seen.
Image: Kieron Pollard
His unbeaten 158 remains the best
Brendon McCullum (Kolkata Knight Riders)
His 158 not out in the opening match of the inaugural tournament - against Bangalore Royal Challengers - remains the highest individual score in the IPL.
And his recent hundred in the T20 game against Australia made him only the second batsman to score a hundred in the T20 format.
Having been relieved of the captaincy burden, McCullum can now concentarte on what he does best - score fast.
Image: Brendon McCullum
Still the best bet in T20
Chris Gayle (Kolkata Knight Riders)
His 117 against South Africa in the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup made him the first batsman to hit a century in a Twenty20 international.
The West Indies captain is an asset for the Kolkata Knight Riders, his performances so far notwithstanding.
And his partnership with Brendon McCullum up the order is potentially lethal.
Image: Chris Gayle