5 Players for Whom IPL 2021 is Likely to be Make-Or-Break Season
Who could be playing his last IPL season?
IPL 2021 is now officially underway with six teams having played their season-opening matches. There have been some big highs, like Suresh Raina’s comeback half-century but there’s also been some lows, like MS Dhoni’s 2-ball duck in CSK’s defeat.
Like Dhoni and Raina, as always, the big guns are likely to steal the show more often than not while there are also expectations from newcomers.
The likes of MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Jasprit Bumrah, Rishabh Pant to name a few will be at the forefront of their team’s campaign and will need to support from others.
The auction saw a few bold bids for some players, both new and old, adding pressure to live up to the price tag.
One of those in such a precarious situation is Australian Glenn Maxwell, for whom another bad season is definitely not what the doctor has ordered!
Here’s a look at the players for whom IPL 2021 could be a make-or-break season.
One of KKR’s most loved overseas players, Sunil Narine used to be a key cog in the wheel for Dinesh Karthik’s side. With the bat, Narine was good at providing a quick start in the powerplay while his guile with the ball has seen him win the team plenty of close games. He was one of the chief architects of Kolkata Knight Riders' two title victories in 2012 and 2014 - well worth the investment they put in him.
However, multiple problems with this action over the years gone by has had it’s effects on Narine’s potency as a bowler, with 2020 being possibly his worst campaign.
Once one of the first names on the team sheet, Narine’s effectiveness with the ball is has gone down several notches and despite a good strike rate hasn’t been able to get his side of the flyers they need.
Another below-par season could put Narine’s future in the IPL at stake.
A mainstay in the Australian white-ball set-up for his explosive batting abilities in the middle order, Maxwell has well and truly flattered to deceive in the IPL.
A brilliant fielder, who can contribute with his off-spin, the Australian can play the role of a floater in a line-up. His one of the best seasons was in 2014 when Maxwell teamed up with David Miller for Kings XI Punjab.
However, since then his tally of runs has only crossed 200 once (2017) with IPL 2020 seeing him score a total of 108 runs, without hitting even a six – definitely not the Maxwell one expects!
Signed on for INR 14.25 Cr by Royal Challengers Bangalore, Maxwell has very little credit left in the bag to work with if IPL 2021 isn’t a happy outing for him.
For long, one of MS Dhoni’s trusted players in the middle-order, Kedar Jadhav and CSK parted ways ahead of this year’s IPL and he was signed on by Sunrisers Hyderabad at the auction. A powerful attacking batsman, Jadhav was always very useful lower in the order, adding crucial runs.
Jadhav wasn’t among the preferred picks in the auction and has fallen off the radar for the Indian team as well. In IPL 2020, Jadhav played only 8 games and could be used to balance the side at times in Hyderabad.
Unless Jadhav makes good use of limited chances, this could well be his last IPL.
The former Australian captain is a fantastic batsman without doubt but has had his fair share of troubles with the shortest format, especially in the IPL last year.
Bought for more than INR 12 Cr by Rajasthan and then released only for Delhi to pick him up at 2.2 Cr would have been quite a step down for him. In IPL 2020, he was out of form for the Royals scoring only 311 runs. 2017 was Smith’s best year when he scored 472 runs for the Rising Pune Supergiants.
The Australian, like Maxwell, may not be too far from his best performances with the bat and will need to pull together all his experience and abilities for a good year.
Smith will be desperate for a good season, not only because of the World T20 later this year in India but also to keep himself in the reckoning as top recruit in the IPL.
An absolute stalwart for India and in the IPL for Chennai Super Kings, Suresh Raina is more often than not the main stay for the batting line-up in his side.
However, Raina, who missed IPL 2020 due to personal reasons, has not been playing competitive cricket regularly, especially since 2018. He managed 383 runs in IPL 2019 at an average of 23.93 and a strike rate of 121.97 which are not extraordinary figures.
Returning to the game after a while due, a period when he announced his international retirement moments after MS Dhoni on 15 August, Raina, scored one half century in 5 games for UP in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
For MR IPL as he is popularly known time might be running out if he does not have a good season with CSK, who might then look for other options. Mind you, Raina stands second on the list of highest run-getters in the history of the IPL, behind Virat Kohli with David Warner and Rohit Sharma at third and fourth.
The elegant southpaw will have to be right on the money for not only Chennai to do well but for him to retain his pivotal No. 3 spot throughout the season.
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