We’re at the halfway stage of IPL 2020, and while the mid-season transfer window is opened, there are still a few overseas players each team will wish they could call up. Here they are.
This is about the time during Indian Premier League seasons when team managements realise things aren’t going to plan, and take recourse in wishful thinking. Unfortunately, even if the mid-season transfer window this year onwards allows for the movement of capped players, some targets remain out of reach.
We’re speaking of course of the overseas players who are not available, for one reason or the other, for call-ups to IPL 2020. Some of these players went unsold at the auctions, others decided not to play in the tournament.
Midway through the season, some teams, and not necessarily those in the bottom half of the table, would have started to feel their absence. Below is one player each team will love to be able to call up.
Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) – Mitchell Starc
Starc has only ever played two seasons of the IPL – in 2014 and 2015. He picked 14 and 20 wickets respectively in those seasons, and more importantly, RCB seemed to have solved multiple long-standing issues – they solved their death bowling woes, they had a premier overseas quick, and a reliable source of wickets.
Starc left such an impression at RCB, they never adequately replaced him since. The Australian paceman opted out of IPL 2020 ahead of the auctions last year, and despite the tournament since being pushed due to the pandemic, has said he has “no regrets” with his decision.
RCB, meanwhile, have a fairly balanced squad, but Starc would certainly be an upgrade on the capable Isuru Udana and a Dale Steyn whose powers have waned.
Mumbai Indians (MI) – Lasith Malinga
During the IPL season, Lasith Malinga is as much a Mumbaikar as Rohit Sharma, so crucial has he been to the team’s fortunes over the years. Last year, in a high-pressure situation in the final, he defended two runs off the final ball to help MI beat Chennai Super Kings (CSK) – the victory made MI the most successful team in the league’s history.
However, Malinga opted out of IPL 2020 citing personal reasons. And while James Pattinson, his replacement, has adequately filled in for him, one can’t help but feel the aura of Malinga, and his experience of dealing with pressure situations, will be missed by MI as the business end of the season approaches.
Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) – Ben Cutting
Ben Cutting is one of those overseas players in the IPL who fall under the radar. He doesn’t do anything outstanding, but is crucial to the balance of the side, thanks to his all-round capabilities. He could be just the player KXIP needs to rescue their season.
KXIP are at the bottom of the table at the halfway point of the group stages, having won just one of their seven matches so far. Their primary concern is the middle order – if the top order of KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal fail, their line-up is open to assault, especially given Glenn Maxwell’s poor form.
Someone like Cutting, who can thwack a few sixes in the death overs, and bowl handy medium pace in the middle overs, can be ideal for them.
Chennai Super Kings (CSK) – Sam Billings
Billings has previously spent two seasons at CSK, in 2018 and 2019. Most of his 11 matches for the franchise came in 2018, when he played 10 matches and aggregated 108 at 138.46. CSK released him ahead of the IPL 2020 auction, and Billings decided not to put his name forward for bidding, opting to instead focus on his season with Kent.
After the form Billings has been in recently, CSK will rue releasing him. In the ODIs against Australia last month, Billings scored a century and a half-century in a three-match series, and followed it up with a half-century for Kent in the T20 Blast against Surrey. It’s the sort of hitting that CSK’s middle order has desperately missed this season, and one can’t help but wonder if this – had he played for them – would have been Billings’ breakthrough year at CSK.
“I had pretty big shoes to fill in Mahendra Singh Dhoni one game”
— Vitality Blast (@VitalityBlast) July 23, 2020
Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) – Colin de Grandhomme
Colin de Grandhomme is a more-than-useful T20 all-rounder – in 197 T20 matches, he’s scored 3,302 runs at a strike-rate of over 160, and has also picked 66 wickets. In IPL 2018, when RCB were struggling without a high-quality paceman, de Grandhomme shored things up a bit in the middle overs, ending that season with an economy rate of 8.6. A bruising batsman, he’s also a great option to finish an innings.
All of which sounds like exactly the sort of things SRH need at the moment. They are a top-heavy side – David Warner, Jonny Bairstow and Manish Pandey are the top three – but then, apart from Kane Williamson, the rest of the middle order is usually filled by uncapped Indian youngsters. If SRH want anther option to the stability Williamson offers, they could do worse than having de Grandhomme in their ranks. If only …
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) – Mark Wood
KKR have a pretty good squad on the whole, and their concerns are predominantly surrounding the form of some of their players. Such as, Pat Cummins. The Australian pacer was signed at a record fee in the last auction – and rightly so, Cummins is an exceptional bowler – but he has failed to hit the straps so far this season, so much that KKR’s pace attack is being led by India youngsters Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi.
Given how successful the England players have been on the whole in IPL 2020, one must wonder how Mark Wood would have helped KKR’s chances. He’s fast, he can make things happen, and it’s a real head-scratcher why he has gone unsold in the last two IPL auctions.
Rajasthan Royals (RR) – Martin Guptill
The fact that RR have been compelled to push Ben Stokes to open an innings suggests they have opening issues, irrespective of how well Stokes fares in the role – they need his game-winning abilities down the order. With Steve Smith struggling – he’s scored five single-digit scores in his last six IPL 2020 innings – it makes one think how they’d have fared with Guptill at the top.
The New Zealand opener, one of the most destructive in the world, has never had a consistent run in the IPL, and given his achievements in T20Is, it’s surely just a matter of a steady run of games before he fires in the tournament. Unfortunately for RR, that’s not going to happen this season.
Delhi Capitals (DC) – Tabraiz Shamsi
Wrist-spinners are in vogue in the IPL, and that’s particularly so if you’re a left-arm wrist-spinner. DC lost a big figure and a big part of their plans for the season when Amit Mishra was ruled out for the season due to an injury.
Shamsi – he has only played four IPL matches, all of it for RCB in 2016 – would have made for an interesting replacement. He’s improved with his skill since 2016, and on slow UAE tracks, a left-arm wrist-spinner is a decent player to punt on. It’s not going to happen this season, though.