By Abhijit Banare
Ever since Pakistan players have been kept out of Indian Premier League (IPL) for reasons other than cricket, a lot has been discussed and debated on their participation. Azhar Mahmood, a former Pakistan player who is now a British passport holder, is an important member of the Kings XI Punjab. Pakistani umpires and commentators are very much part of the world’s biggest T20 feast, so why keep the current Pakistani players out?
The presence of Pakistani players will heighten the interest levels of the IPL. And there are quite a few who will be a huge draw.
1. Saeed Ajmal
This name has to be at the top when you think of some of the best players not to have featured in the IPL so far. Out of the 37 T20 matches he has played so far, the offie has picked up 51 wickets at an average of 16.4. However what makes his figures impressive in a T20 scenario is his miserly economy rate of 6.28
He has all the things required to be a potent weapon in any format of the game who had made the best of the batsmen in world cricket struggle to read him.
He featured in the first edition for Kolkata Knight Riders. He has been extremely impressive in both ODIs and T20s with his is miserly bowling figures and aggressive batting approach as an opener. His all-round abilities are considered prized possession in the shortest format of the game. There is no doubting that he would have fetched among the highest had he been part of the bidding process.
One of the low-profile player of the Pakistan side, he’s one of those whose contribution was overshadowed by Afridi’s performance in World Cup 2011. One has to admit that he didn’t have an impressive performance since the beginning of his career, has been dropped twice at least, yet since past one year he seems to have cemented his place. He has been batting more responsibly and turned up as a specialist spinner to assist Ajmal from the other end.
3. Umar Gul
Hailed as the ideal replacement for Waqar Younis, Gul hasn’t disappointed one bit. He is a wicket-taking bowler every captain loves to have in the team. Hand him the bowl during a crunch situation and more often than not he won’t disappoint. Has performed consistently throughout his career, but if you happen to be a huge critic of his, then you may you question his performance in big games.
In the few matches he played for Kolkata Knight Riders, he picked up 12 wickets. One skill that makes him different from bowlers around the world is his ability to reverse swing with the new ball which is rarely seen in the shortest format of the game.
To include him can be slightly debatable, but his recent records are in favor of him - more as a bowler, less as a batsman. In a T20 match if the captain has the option of choosing between the better and the best spinner, then the bowler’s ability to bat may just wave across the mind. Currently he is ranked fifth in the International T20 bowling chart.
Represented the Deccan Chargers in first season, but his performance wasn’t very convincing either. Despite being inconsistent with his form and place in the team, he’s still a favorite when it comes to the shorter formats of the game.
5. Abdur Razzaq
He may not be visible in the international circuit because of his reported tiff with Pakistan Cricket Board, but he’s still one of the players with loads of experience. Perhaps one can draw similarities of his career with Azhar Mahmood.
An unsung hero with many match-winning efforts, he was one of the causes of Pakistan’s success in last year’s World Cup. Coming in as a genuine batsman at No. 8, Pakistan could count on him to take the team home in crunch situations or being a dependable fifth bowler for his team.
With world’s top three international T20 wicket-takers ,you can think twice before calling T20 a batsman’s game when these players feature in any team.
Though a lot can be debated and added upon this short list, but in a T20 game in IPL with a limit of just four abroad players, every team searches for a match winner in them.
These are the players who can make a big difference to any situation.
(Like most Indians, Abhijit Banare has been obsessed with cricket since childhood. He is an avid follower, smitten by statistics and analysis. A journalism student in Mumbai, he considers himself lucky to have grown up watching batting legends like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid. He also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)