Chennai Super Kings have suffered major blows ahead of the commencement of much-awaited IPL 2020. The Chennai franchise, days before the tournament, were jolted after 13 members of the CSK squad had tested positive for the coronavirus. To make things worse, their vice-captain Suresh Raina also decided to opt out of the league and head back to India citing personal reasons.
It’s been downhill ever since for the Yellow Army as they’ve now been shaken with a third massive blow. Veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has also decided to pull out of the tournament due to personal reasons. While Raina had returned home after travelling with the team to UAE, Harbhajan had remained in India.
Harbhajan conveyed his decision to the franchise on Friday, giving the Chennai franchise a bolt from the blue. The MS Dhoni-led side, who are yet to flag off their training sessions amid the ruckus, will be looking to rope in a quality player to fill the void. CSK’s training was delayed due to the confirmed COVID-19 results but the Yellow Army will certainly aim to get back on track and get a suitable replacement for Harbhajan.
Here are five players who can replace Harbhajan in CSK’s IPL 2020 campaign:
1. Jalaj Saxena
Harbhajan himself had backed Jalaj Saxena for a national call-up in March. Harbhajan had batted for Saxena’s inclusion in the squad, questioning the selectors’ decision of ignoring such genuine spinners.
Jalaj Saxena, a domestic cricket maestro, has 347 first-class wickets along with 6,334 runs. He is currently a part of the Kerala squad in the domestic circuit and has been consistently delivering all-round performances. In 2019, he even achieved the feat of scoring 6,000 runs and taking 300 wickets in first-class cricket. Considering his experience, Saxena can be an excellent replacement for Harbhajan.
Saxena is yet to still get a big break in the IPL or the Indian side. Saxena was signed up by Mumbai Indians in 2013. After remaining with MI until IPL 2014, he was snapped up by Royal Challengers Bangalore in the 2015 auction. In 2018, he was bought by Delhi Capitals but was released before the most recent IPL 2020 auction. Hungry to prove his worth, Saxena can certainly make a difference in the CSK squad.
2. Sudeshan Midhun
Sudesh Midhun was signed up by Rajasthan Royals in the 2018 auction for INR 20 lakh. 25-year-old Midhun can surely leave a mark in this year’s IPL edition with his leg-breaks and googlies.
Midhun was released by Rajasthan ahead of IPL 2020 auction and CSK can think of giving him an opportunity in Harbhajan’s absence. Midhun made his first-class debut in December 2019, for Kerala in the Ranji Trophy, picking up three wickets against Bengal.
Talking about his stats in T20s, Midhun has scalped 14 wickets in 14 matches at an economy of 6.62. He also has a four-wicket haul in the shortest format of the game. CSK might try experimenting on UAE wickets and Midhun might grab eyeballs in the process.
3. Shams Mulani
23-year-old Shams Mulani also has considerable domestic cricket experience under his belt. Mulani, a left-hander who predominantly delivers with the bat, can also perform in the bowling department. Like Ravindra Jadeja, Mulani can also emerge as a vital cog of the Chennai camp.
In 10 first-class matches, Mulani has scored 556 runs along with scalping 28 wickets. He even took his first five-wicket haul in the previous Ranji Trophy season. Mulani’s left-arm orthodox skills might help in filling Harbhajan’s gap.
Mulani is still 23 and he can be signed as a long-term prospect by CSK. Considering the age of Piyush Chawla and Harbhajan Singh, Mulani could have the upper edge in that aspect. The Raigad-born all-rounder has scored 79 runs in 22 T20s along with picking up 20 wickets at an average of 23.25.
4. M Abhinav
Another promising leg-break bowler is M Abhinav, who had impressed by delivering in previous Tamil Nadu Premier League. In 16 TNPL matches, he has picked 17 wickets at an impressive economy of 6.2.
By playing alongside a veteran like Piyush Chawla, Abhinav can also gain experience and cement his side in the CSK squad. Abhinav might’ve played only 1 List A match in his career but his performances for Dindigul Dragons can’t be ignored. In his last five matches for Dragons, he picked six wickets with best figures of 3/24.
5. S Manigandan
Similar to Abhinav, Manigandan had also caught the attention by delivering in the last Tamil Nadu Premier League. If CSK wants to experiment with local talents instead of replacing Harbhajan with an experienced player, Manigandan can certainly be roped in.
In 10 TNPL matches, Manigandan had scalped 16 wickets while donning Kovai Kings‘ jersey. The leg-break bowler had picked eight wickets in his last five outings for Kings.
On his TNPL debut, he had made an instant impact by scalping two wickets off two balls in the very first over. Manigandan, 24, still has time to develop and he’ll be on the radar of Chennai Super Kings if they decide to invest in an exciting young talent.
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
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