The IPL auction which happened a fortnight ago in Kolkata threw many more surprises, just the way it has done every season. Some of the veteran cricketers were ignored, while a few others were picked up at hefty price tags. Most teams picked up players keeping just the upcoming season in mind and it’ll be interesting to see if that thinking works for them or not.
Mumbai Indians will be entering as the defending champions and the tournament is rumoured to start around the first week of April or in the last week of March. With the T20 World Cup coming up a few months after this, a lot of cricketers will consider this a great opportunity to find some match practice at the highest level.
Every IPL brings an end to some amazing careers the fraternity has witnessed and this time too, there are cricketers who could be playing their final IPL.
Here are five players who might be playing in the IPL for one final time next year:
1. Lasith Malinga
It seemed like Lasith Malinga‘s career in this tournament was done and dusted when the Mumbai Indians announced him as their bowling mentor in 2018, but the great man had some other things running in his mind. He came back as a player in the 2019 edition, bowled the last over of the final, won his side the game with a vintage slower delivery off the final ball with just two runs to defend.
That seems like a Malinga tale, which has drama, comeback and pulling a rabbit out of the hat stuff. Even for a man of his calibre, to appear in the 2021 IPL would be next to impossible. This perhaps could be his farewell season having done so well for the club, being a part of all their title-winning campaigns.
He’s the highest wicket-taker in IPL history and is expected to extend his tally further this season. The Mumbai Indians have roped in some additional recruits as well, to strengthen their bowling attack like never before. Going by how they built their squad, it could come as no surprise if they win their fifth title this season.
2. Chris Gayle
Talk about cult legends of the game, who sometimes are bigger than the whole game itself, Chris Gayle is a name that deserves a mention. Chris Gayle spent some time with the Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab, but his most memorable time in the IPL came with the Royal Challengers Bangalore, where he spent 7 seasons from 2011 to 2017.
No cricketer in the IPL is remotely close to Gayle when it comes to the number of sixes hit. He also holds the record for the highest individual score in the tournament’s history, which also is the highest individual score in T20 history (175* vs Pune Warriors India in 2013). Gayle has been one of the finest crowd-pullers the tournament has witnessed thus far and will ever witness in the future.
Gayle has been slow between the wickets for a very long time now and he’s not getting any younger, who will be three months short of 42 by the 2021 edition. Well, maybe he could be available to play cricket but it’ll be interesting to see if the franchises show any interest.
3. Shane Watson
A two-time IPL winner with the Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings, Shane Watson showed it in the finals of both 2018 and 2019 edition that form is temporary and class is permanent. His century was good enough to thrash the Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2018, but the Chennai Super Kings fell 1 run short in 2019 final.
Watson has been a prolific contributor to any club he’s represented across the globe, with the bat and ball. He’s also an experienced campaigner who brings in leadership qualities, not that MS Dhoni needs anything of that sorts in addition, but he is an added advantage for any side.
The upcoming season could well be the final appearance in T20 cricket for the dashing all-rounder, who won quite a few hearts during his active playing days. Shane Watson’s career has been glittering and exuberant, but his time could not go beyond the 2020 edition in the IPL.
4. Imran Tahir
“That’s gone and Imran Tahir is off for a sprint” – Cricket lovers will dearly miss this action from Imran Tahir. One of the best white-ball cricketers of all time, Tahir made his debut earlier this decade and made a huge mark with South Africa and the various T20 teams he has represented, which includes PSL, IPL, BBL, BPL and CPL.
Imran Tahir represented the Delhi Daredevils and Rising Pune Supergiant before joining the Chennai Super Kings in 2018. He fits in their side brilliantly, with the Chepauk wicket being a slow rank-turner. He delivered some great performances for the club and is expected to add more value to the side in 2020.
However, CSK did bring in Piyush Chawla as a potential replacement for Tahir. This is a clear indication that his time in the IPL is coming close to an end, which means the franchise could look for some other younger option available in the mega auction for the 2021 edition.
5. Dale Steyn
Since the auction was much smaller in size, Dale Steyn did get a good bid for his base price, which was a little on the higher side. He was sold to the Royal Challengers Bangalore for INR 2 Crore and his IPL career could potentially finish where it all started, with the RCB.
Steyn enjoyed some wonderful years with the Deccan Chargers and the Sunrisers Hyderabad but unfortunately, he never got to win the trophy. He’s the only fast bowler in the tournament’s history with an economy under 7 (More than 30 wickets), which speaks volumes of how effective he was for the sides he represented. He also was a part of the Gujarat Lions squad for a season.
Steyn is not getting any younger and his injury concerns will not make it easy for the franchises to consider him. The auction will be a bigger one next edition and it’ll come in as a surprise if anyone opts to go for the legendary fast bowler despite having some amazing young talents at disposal.
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