What is common between the likes of Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and Yusuf Pathan? They were all mainstays in Indian cricket team’s limited-overs setup but ‘were‘ is the important word here. While it has been a couple of years since the likes of Raina and Harbhajan have featured in the Indian line-up, Yuvraj Singh has been out of contention for the past one year. And now as T20 cricket’s biggest extravaganza awaits us in the form of the IPL, what it also offers is a perfect platform for the Indian discards to reaffirm their credentials and prove that they still have some gas left in their tanks.
It will not be the first time that players lost in oblivion will make an attempt to get back into their respective national sides. A few years ago Shane Watson, Yuvraj Singh, and Ashish Nehra made a strong comeback by finding themselves among the top 10 most expensive players in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2016. Hence, this year, something similar might take place. With the hard work of the domestic first-class season done and dusted and India’s premier domestic T20 tournament also on the verge of getting over, the “discards” will be hoping to impress the IPL scouts and deliver the goods in the eleventh edition of the tournament.
But the biggest question that remains is will they be able to do so? Here’s a look at some of the veterans who might earn a fat IPL deal in 2018 and subsequently claim a stake to return to the Indian dressing room.
If there is one format where Suresh Raina feels at home, it is T20s. Even when he was going through a lean patch during the 2010-11 season, he made a comeback after a phenomenal run in the IPL. Last year he was among the most consistent batsmen in the tournament. A look at his IPL record reveals staggering numbers – In 165 matches he has scored 4,540 runs at an impressive average of 34.14 and a strike rate of 139.05. What also works in his favor is that he now returns to his favoured Chennai Super Kings. Recently, the India all-rounder had credited Chennai Super Kings for transforming him into a real cricketer and hence will be looking to make most of the opportunity as MS Dhoni’s deputy.
Out of favour Indian all-rounder Yuvraj Singh has not been retained by his franchise – Sunrisers Hyderabad and has a base price of INR 2 crore (USD 315,000 approx) at this year’s auction. However, it is most likely that the southern franchise will opt for Right to Match card and secure his services. If it doesn’t then the southpaw may go for a huge sum, similar to what transpired at IPL 8 auction wherein he emerged as the costliest buy at a whopping Rs 16 crore. In 120 matches, Yuvraj has scored 2,587 runs at an average of 25.61 with a strike rate of 131.19. He has 12 fifties to his name and a highest individual score of 83.
Veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who was a part of the Mumbai Indians since its first season, has not been retained by the three-time champions. With rumors circulating that MI will use it’s RTM to buy back Krunal Pandya, it will interesting to see till what length Mumbai bid for the Turbanatior (who has a base price of INR 2 crore (USD 315,000 approx.) With 127 wickets in 136 games at an economy rate of 6.96 and an average of 26.65, Harbhajan is one of the most seasoned campaigners and a lot of teams will be vying for his services. With the bat, he has hit 799 runs at a strike rate of 142.42. Only time will tell whether he remains with Mumbai or makes a shift.
Yusuf Pathan, who is a part of the auction after returning from his suspension due to doping, has set his base price to Rs 75 lakh. Apart from his erratic form with the willow, it remains to be seen whether his doping suspension also play a role in the minds of the buyers. However, his record in the IPL is anything but impressive. With 149 matches to his name, Yusuf has scored 2,904 runs at an average of 2,963 and a strike rate of 145.49. He also has one hundred to his name.
Meanwhile, Yusuf Pathan’s younger brother Irfan Pathan, who remained unsold in the last auction, has kept his base price at Rs 50 lakhs. Others including the likes of Unmukt Chand and Pawan Negi would also be looking to catch the IPL scouts’ eyes this year.