When the IPL was suspended in the summer, plenty expected there to be a plethora of logistical issues. The window the BCCI had carved out for the IPL was no longer relevant and with nearly a half of the IPL remaining, finding a suitable window was a significant challenge.
The BCCI and the IPL did manage to create a window though, meaning that with just a few days remaining, the preparations for the resumption leg of the IPL are in full swing.
In the COVID-19 era, however, that particular decision has led to several other problems. With the prospect of another bio-bubble, quite a few cricketers have decided to withdraw from the IPL.
While the cricketers’ decision is absolutely justified, it has forced the IPL franchises to fervently search for replacements – replacements that wouldn’t just fill the void left by those missing the tournament but also add something different to their respective arsenals.
Furthermore, with most top-drawer cricketers already contracted to various IPL teams, it was pretty arduous to zero in on signings, although it must be said that most sides have made a decent fist of it.
In the process, there are numerous players who will be making their IPL debut in the resumption leg of the IPL, meaning that one ought to take a look at such cricketers, considering they are capable of leaving their mark on the competition.
#3 Nathan Ellis (Punjab Kings)
The Punjab Kings were one of the worst-hit franchises due to the rescheduling of the IPL. Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith – bowlers who played a significant part in the first leg of the IPL, made themselves unavailable. To add to it, the Kings had spent heavily on the duo – something that made their job of finding replacements even tougher.
From that perspective then, the Kings seem to have done well to rope in Nathan Ellis – a pacer who isn’t as quick as the aforementioned Australian pair but has enough tricks in his armory to pose novel questions to batters. In fact, his skills were on display during Australia’s recent series against Bangladesh, where he became the first male cricketer to pick up a hat-trick on his T20I debut.
Apart from that, Ellis is renowned for his death-bowling skills – an area that has caused more than a furrowed brow or two in the Kings’ ranks. Additionally, he has a good mixture of slower balls and that could be handy on the relatively sluggish surfaces in the UAE.
Though Chris Jordan was acquired for a similar purpose (death bowling), the Englishman has failed to pull his weight, meaning that Ellis might just end up playing the remainder of the Kings’ IPL fixtures.
Having said that, it is also important to remember that Ellis is still quite raw and young in his international career and might need a bit of time to adapt to the IPL. That, though, doesn’t take anything away from his caliber – something that forces the IPL community to keep their eyes glued to Ellis’ exploits.
#2 Adil Rashid (Punjab Kings)
The Punjab Kings may have been deprived of the services of their frontline pace partnership. But there is no denying that in Adil Rashid, they’ve done brilliantly to inject their bowling attack with variety and of course, add a genuine match-winner to their mix.
Rashid is perhaps at the peak of his powers and it seemed perplexing that one of the best wrist-spinners in white-ball cricket wasn’t able to fetch himself an IPL gig. Now, though, he has his chance and if history is any indicator, other IPL outfits would want to take Rashid lightly at their own peril.
Throughout his T20 career, the leg-spinner has functioned as a wicket-taker in the middle overs. More recently, though, he has also specialized in bowling in the Power Play – an element that has allowed his stock as a bowler to rise.
If numbers are considered, Rashid averages 22.08 in all T20 cricket and takes a wicket every 17.8 balls. He also concedes 7.43 runs an over, meaning that he can contain the batters as well as pose a wicket-taking threat.
Rashid bowls an extremely well-disguised googly as well and with most batters currently unable to spot those, he could be a potent weapon for the Kings. That he will be able to pick Anil Kumble’s brains and strategize adds to the excitement for the PBKS faithful.
Thus, it seems that the Kings might have to pull out all the stops to accommodate Rashid in their playing eleven. If they do, he is certainly someone to watch out for in the IPL.
#1 Wanindu Hasaranga (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
Over the past few weeks, Wanindu Hasaranga has cast himself as one of the three best leg-spinners in white-ball cricket, only behind Adil Rashid and Rashid Khan. Against India too, he was at his best and spun undecipherable webs – something that directly led to the Royal Challengers Bangalore signing him as a replacement for the resumption leg of the IPL.
Hasaranga is a highly accurate bowler and specializes in tying down the batters. However, he isn’t just a defensive bowling option, for he also has the ability to produce wicket-taking deliveries, even when the batters are looking to defend or play him out.
Just like Rashid, he has a fabulous googly and uses it judiciously whereas his slider, which is often flatter in trajectory, also deceives the batters regularly. In simpler terms, he is the archetypal T20 bowler – one capable of keeping the runs down but one also capable of denting the opposition when the situation demands.
Can Hasaranga power RCB to IPL glory?
Apart from that, Hasaranga is also an adept batting option lower down the order and that should help RCB in the IPL, considering they’ve long been labelled a top-heavy side. Moreover, Hasaranga might enjoy his partnership with Yuzvendra Chahal. Not just because both seem like different types of bowlers but because his tidiness could help Chahal be a little more aggressive.
All said and done, the acquisition of Hasaranga seems an inspired decision and it could even define RCB’s campaign, especially as they hunt for their maiden IPL crown.
Also Read: IPL 2021: Predicting where each team will finish post the league stages