IPL 2016: Notable players who had little or nothing to do in season 9
Finally, Alastair Cook has created history © Getty Images

The ninth season of Indian Premier League (IPL) that concluded on Sunday with a fitting finale between winners Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and runners up Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) gave us a new winner. It also gave us new faces in the likes of Krunal Pandya, Karun Nair, Kuldeep Yadav, Shivil Kaushik, Adam Zampa, Yuzvendra Chahal et al who are future prospects for their countries. But this season also witnessed a few established players getting few or no games for their sides. Let’s take a look at some of them who could have made a difference to their sides’ fortunes had they played more often:

1.  Corey Anderson, Mumbai Indians, did not get any game: The New Zealand all-rounder, who would easily walk into any other playing XI, found it difficult to break into the MI XI. The presence of Kieron Pollard made things difficult for him, as other three spots were taken by Mitchell McClenaghan, Jos Buttler and Tim Southee (for most part of the league). His explosive hitting and seam-bowling could have come handy for MI, who failed to make it to the playoffs.

2.  Trent Boult, Sunrisers Hyderabad, 1 game:  Another Kiwi player who could not get games in this season. Boult, who played for SRH, lost out to the emerging player of IPL 2016 Mustafizur Rahman for a place in the side. The other three spots were taken by skipper David Warner, all-rounder Moises Henriques and Eoin Morgan/Kane Williamson/Ben Cutting. He just played a solitary game, the all-important qualifier 2, due to Mustafizur’s injury.

3.  Ishant Sharma, Rising Pune Supergiants, 4 games: Ishant was expected to lead the RPS attack from match 1. He did play that role in side’s first four games. However, his erratic bowling cost him the place in the playing XI as he was replaced by Ashoke Dinda, who did a fairly well job for the team. Ishant did not play any further role in RPS’ disappointing campaign.

4.  Martin Guptill, Mumbai Indians, 3 games: When Guptill was not picked during the IPL 2016 player auction, there was a huge hue and cry over it. An injury to MI’s star player Lendl Simmons in the very first match meant that Guptill made a backdoor entry to the cash-rich league. However, the New Zealand opener got only three games in the league which was disappointing given his proficiency in the shortest format.

5.  Dale Steyn, Gujarat Lions, 1 game: One of world’s fastest bowlers, Steyn got just one game for the IPL debutants. The Rajkot-based franchise was loaded with explosive overseas players in Brendon McCullum, Aaron Finch, Dwayne Smith and Dwayne Bravo. Besides, they also had Australian all-rounder James Faulkner’s services at their disposal. This way, considering the four-overseas-players-per-side rule, it was difficult for Steyn to make it to the squad.

6.  Irfan Pathan, Rising Pune Supergiants, 4 games: Player of the match in the final of inaugural World T20 in 2007, Irfan got just four games this season. This, after he was coming from a successful Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 trophy, where he was the leading wicket-taker with 17 and scored 200 runs at a strike rate of over 150. He was benched last year by MS Dhoni at Chennai Super Kings (CSK) as well, and this year was no different.

7.  Sarfaraz Khan, Royal Challengers Bangalore, 5 games: A lot has been said and written about this young prodigy, who has been hailed as the future of Indian batting. He played first five games and did well with a 10-ball 35 not out against eventual winners SRH being the highlight. It is rumoured that he was being left out for the rest of the season for fitness and ‘attitude’ problem.

8.  Kedar Jadhav, Royal Challengers Bangalore, 4 games: Another exciting player, who has won four ODI caps for India so far, got to play only four games for RCB this season. He played the additional role of wicketkeeper in the side but emergence of KL Rahul, who was a success story for RCB this season, curtailed his appearances in IPL 9.

9.  Mandeep Singh, Royal Challengers Bangalore, 1 game: Mandeep Singh, who will be on the plane to Zimbabwe to represent India in limited-overs series under Dhoni, surprisingly got just one game for RCB this season. Worse, he did not even get a chance to bat in that game against RPS.

10.  Shardul Thakur, Kings XI Punjab, did not get any game: Shardul Thakur, another new face in the Indian team who will be travelling to the Caribbean islands for a four-Test series in July, surprisingly did not get a single chance for KXIP. Moreover, he was even released by the franchise mid-way during the season. He even vented his frustration by taking to Twitter. But nevertheless, he will be happy that his domestic performance came in handy for his maiden Team India call-up.

11.  Unmukt Chand, Mumbai Indians, 1 game: India’s Under-19 World Cup winning skipper Unmukt Chand got a single game for MI this season. He did not trouble the scorers in the game and was dismissed for a duck. This single failure cost him his place in the playing XI, as he did not feature in any of team’s remaining games. He too had a good outing in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 trophy, where he scored 276 runs at an average of 34.50 at a strike-rate of 143.

12.  Andrew Tye, Gujarat Lions, did not get any game: Another case of problem-of-plenty, this Gujarat Lions pacer was forced to sit out for entire season, as there was intense competition for the four overseas spots.

13.  Ishwar Pandey, Rising Pune Supergiants, did not get any game: One of Dhoni’s many protégés, Pandey played consistently under him for CSK. However, quite surprisingly, he did not get a single game this season. The likes of Dinda, RP Singh and even Deepak Chahar made the cut ahead of him, but he was forced to warm the benches.

14.  Abhimanyu Mithun, Sunrisers Hyderabad, did not get any game: This young pacer from Karnataka, who has played four Tests and five ODIs for the country, stayed confined to the dugout throughout SRH’s victorious campaign. Presence of ‘Purple Cap’ holder Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Barinder Sran and Team India’s de facto bowling coach in T20Is Ashish Nehra made it impossible for him to break into the playing XI.

15.  Nathu Singh, Mumbai Indians, did not get any game: This little-known fast-bowler made heads turn when he was bagged by the MI franchise for a whopping INR 3.2 crores during IPL 2016 player auction. He was already doing some great things in the domestic circuit and was touted as the next big thing in Indian fast-bowling. But come IPL 9, and the young pacer was forced to wear the bib throughout the tournament. He could not make it to the XI as Team India member Jasprit Bumrah grabbed the only available bowling spot while the rest were taken by overseas players.

(A self-confessed cricket freak, Chinmay Jawalekar is a senior writer with CricLife and CricketCountry. When not writing or following cricket, he loves to read, eat and sleep. He can be followed here @CricfreakTweets)