IPL 2014: 7 utility players who can make a difference
Each IPL team has a player who makes valuable contributions which may not necessarily may end up as a Man of the Match performance but it goes a long way in building the platform for a victory © IANS & AFP
Twenty20 cricket is a fast paced game and each and every player is responsible for the team’s win. However, there is this one player — whose one over can change the match for good. Sudatta Mukherjee looks at the utility player, the all-rounders, who end up making vital contributions.
With one day left for the commencement of the seventh edition of the cash-rich league, with the first leg being held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the eight teams are all set to fight. However, the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction that happened few months back showed that the franchises aimed for players who will be available throughout the league and who can make useful contributions. This included players who have made breakthrough performances in recent times, irrespective of their popularity.
1) Baba Aparajith
The under-19 World Cup winning player was picked by Chennai Super Kings (CSK). Aparajith, who played a vital role in the 2012 U-19 win, has recently scored a double century for South Zone in Duleep Trophy. He has played 20 List A matches and has scored 603 runs and taken 18 wickets. Playing with stalwarts like MS Dhoni and Brendon McCullum, will help the youngster shine and improve his game. Aparajith isn’t an outright aggressive player but is a Mahela Jayawardene-like strokeplayer who can make a difference in T20s. Aparajith is a handy off-spin bowler which is reminiscent of fellow state player Ravichandran Ashwin. It was his bowling which helped India U-19 bag crucial breakthroughs and he can be an effective part-timer at the highest level as well.
2) Pawan Negi
Another all-rounder in CSK’s kitty, Negi had impressed his former franchise Delhi Daredevils (DD) in a very short time. How could one forget Negi’s four-wicket haul against Rajasthan Royals in 2012 edition. The 21-year-old has played very few matches till now. It would be interesting to see how CSK will use him with Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja being the preferred slower bowlers for MS Dhoni.He has played only nine IPL matches till now and taken seven wickets and scored 36 runs. On slower wickets of UAE and turners in Chennai, Negi will be a tough customer to hit but as mentioned earlier, finding a place in playing XI will be a task for Negi.
3) John Hastings
The 28-year-old Melbourne Stars was part of the 15-member squad for the 2011 World Cup for Australia. Hastings, a right-arm medium pacer could have made his IPL debut three years back, had not Kochi Tuskers Kerala been terminated. The physical education teacher has played three T20Is and has an average of 32.00. He has picked three wickets in his three T20Is. A lower-order batsman, he scored a half-century and picked up four wickets for Victoria. Recently, he was signed by Durham for this summer. Hasting will come handy as the No 3 bowler for CSK and is an important batsman coming lower down the order.
4) James Neesham
Jimmy Neeshan, as he is popularly known as, has already established himself in the New Zealand domestic cricket circuit. Following his impressive performances in domestic matches, Neesham got a call for national side during New Zealand’s tour to South Africa. Fans have already seen how powerful Neesham can be in T20s, if one remembers his knocks of 32 and 52 for Otago Volts in Champions League T20 2013. Neesham, along with Corey Anderson, were star performers when India toured New Zealand. He scored his maiden Test century on debut (137), which is also the highest by a No 8 batsman in Test matches.
5) Laxmi Ratan Shukla
A player who never really got his bit, Laxmi Ratan Shukla is one of Bengal’s most experienced and powerful players in the present squad. Shukla was the most impressive performer for Bengal in the recent Ranji season. The 32-year-old has the ability of breaking partnerships and bowling those one or two overs, which can change the face of the game. He also comes in handy as a middle-order batsman, scoring 30s and 50s.
6) Rajat Bhatia
All all-rounder whose contributions have gone unnoticed by nationals electors, Bhatia is another player who was influential in KKR’s IPL 2012 trophy win. With over ten years experience and having been a star performer for Delhi, Bhatia has continuously provided the team with economical bowling spells, picking up wickets at regular intervals and scoring those important 30s. It came as a shocker when KKR’s let go of Bhatia during the IPL 2014 auction, knowing the power of the player. Rajasthan Royals smartly, under the guidance of Rahul Dravid has picked up the Delhi all-rounder. Bhatia’s slow pace makes it difficult to hit him. During his stint with KKR, skipper Gautam Gambhir made good use of him in death overs when batsmen search for big hits and Bhatia’s pace makes it frustrating for them.
7) Moises Henriques
Portuguese-born Australian cricketer is considered to one of the talented all-rounders from the country. A middle-order batsman, Henriques loves to attack. He has been compared with Shane Watson and his inspiration has been South African legend Jacques Kallis. Henriques has more than 1300 runs under his kitty in T20s. He has also picked 61 wickets. Alongside Darren Sammy, Henriques will be another valuable all-rounder. His addition in the playing XI will only add more depth to the team which boasts of Aaron Finch and David Warner at the top.
(Sudatta Mukherjee is a reporter with CricketCountry. Other than writing on cricket, she spends penning random thoughts on her blog and produces weekly posts on new food joints at Whopping Weekends. She played Table Tennis for University of Calcutta. When she is not writing, you will catch her at a movie theatre or watching some English serial on her laptop. Her Twitter id is @blackrosegal)