By Sudatta Mukherjee
The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2012 is a platform that has seen numerous players dazzle with brilliant performances. Sunil Narine in particular was the toast of the tournament as he bagged the Player of the tournament award in his debut IPL. However, there were a few players who were conspicuous by their absence and cricket fans would love to see them feature in IPL 2013. These international stars would add tremendous value to the cash-rich T20 league and thrill spectators with fantastic performances.
Here are the top 10 players who can grace IPL 2013 (in no particular order):
1. Saeed Ajmal (Pakistan) – The 34-year-old off-spin bowler from Pakistan has been in the news for quite some time. His incredible spells against England helped Pakistan seal a historic triumph. His record speaks volumes for his star value - 107 wickets in 20 Tests and 51 wickets in 37 T20 matches. It would be a treat to watch him bowl his idiosyncratic variations such as the ‘Teesra’to attacking batsmen like Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers and Virender Sehwag.
2. James Pattinson (Australia) - Even though he was picked up by Kolkata Knight Riders in 2011, Pattinson was ruled out of Indian Premier League season 5 due to back injury. The oung right-arm pacer from Australia can swing the ball at a pace of 145-146 kmph and generate bounce to trouble batsmen. Indian fans wouldn’t forget how Pattinson troubled their batsmen during India’s tour to Australia early this year. It would be interesting to see how he shapes up on Indian surfaces.
3. Abdul Razzaq (Pakistan) – He is very similar to his former teammate Azhar Mahmood who played in IPL 5 – thanks to his British citizenship. A rift with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has limited his recent international outings. However, Razzaq is a proven match-winner and his all-round skill is a real asset to any side. Not only can he contribute with the bat but he also can be a useful bowler. His stint in the Indian Cricket League (ICL) for Hyderabad proved that he can be an invaluable player in the shortest format of the game.
4. Peter Siddle (Australia) – Along with Pattinson and Ben Hilfenhaus, Siddle tormented the Indians during their recent tour Down Under. He is a tireless customer who has shown great stamina by bowling long spells. Off late, Australia have used him exclusively in Test matches and numbers would suggest that he is yet to prove his mettle in T20 cricket. However, his Test record reflects his class - 117 wickets in 32 Tests at an average of 29.27. Who can forget his debut in Mohali when he hit Gautam Gambhir in the head with his very first ball?
5. Pat Cummins (Australia) – When the names of James Pattinson and Peter Siddle are discussed, it would be unfair to forget the precociously-talented Cummins. He made a sensational T20 debut for Australia against South Africa, finishing with figures of 3 for 25. He followed that up with a dream Test debut – one during which he steered Australia to victory over South Africa. Trevor Bayliss, coach of Kolkata Knight Riders, opined that Cummins is "One of the hottest bowling prospects we have had in years.”
6. Brendan Taylor (Zimbabwe) – Ray Price was the last Zimbabwean to feature in the IPL when he turned up for the Mumbai Indians in the 2011 season. Before him, Tatenda Taibu had played for the Kolkata Knight Riders - a wicketkeeper-batsman and a magnificent fielder. Taylor is in a similar mould to Taibu. His unbeaten knock of 60 was a memorable one as it guided Zimbabwe to a five wicket victory over a full-strength Australian team in the ICC World Twenty20 2007. The last T20 he played for Zimbabwe, which was against New Zealand, he scored an unbeaten 75. One of his trademark shot is the front-foot drive through the covers.
7. Martin Guptill (New Zealand) – Currently ranked No 2 in the ICC rankings for Twenty20 batsmen., Guptill has scored 788 runs in 29 T20 internationals at a strike-rate of 126.48. He is a livewire on the field. In a T20 against South Africa this February, he hit Lonwabo Tsotsobe for a mssive six measuring 127m. It isn’t just brutal hitting, but he is a sweet timer of the ball. Wouldn’t you want to see him do the same in IPL off a Lasith Malinga or a Dale Steyn delivery?
8. Kevin O’ Brien (Ireland) – The hero of Ireland’s famous victory over neighbours England in the 2011 World Cup, O’Brien is one of the most powerful hitters of the cricket ball. That knock of 113 runs off 63 balls, the fastest World Cup century, would be etched in the minds of cricket-lovers for ages. One can say that his game is tailor made for T20s. He not only adds value to the side with the bat, but can also contribute with the ball.
9. Vernon Philander (South Africa) – The 26-year all-rounder considers himself lucky for not being picked during 2012 IPL auctions as it gave him a chance to play for Somerset – allowing him to prepare for the eagerly anticipated England series. However, his fantastic skill would be a sight for sore eyes in the IPL. He became the second-fastest bowler to reach the landmark of 50 Test wickets (seven Tests). His ability to move the ball both ways is his biggest strength.
10. Darren Bravo (West Indies) – Cricket runs in his blood as he is Brian Lara’s cousin and half brother of Dwayne Bravo. In his early days in international cricket, Darren has given ample evidence of his talent. There are many players in the world who have imitated legends, but none have come close to resembling the great Lara. He has scored 904 runs from 39 ODIs. Even though Bravo hasn’t made a mark in T20 cricket, it would be great to watch the Lara’s clone play in the IPL.
(Sudatta Mukherjee claims to be a Jill of all trades and mistress of none. She is affable, crazy and a wannabe writer. Her Twitter ID is @blackrosegal. Oh yes! You do know her!)