With four days left for IPL 2021 and squads entering the final phase of preparations for the campaign, it is the right time to look at five overseas players to watch out.
In the last couple of days, there have been few scares for BCCI and IPL 2021 as Axar Patel and Devdutt Padikkal have been tested positive for coronavirus. As things stand, there is no big threat for the tournament to be postponed or suspended. The first game is set to take place in Chennai at MA Chidambaram Stadium between Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Overseas players have a big role to play for any successful franchise even if only four such players are allowed in the starting XI. The majority of funds during the IPL 2021 auction were spent on overseas players, so let us look at five foreign players that could make a big impact for their franchises.
In the final ODI between India and England, Sam Curran showed maturity beyond his age to bring England towards India’s total. The 23-year-old all-rounder has impressed in the Test arena, but he has the potential to be a game-changer in T-20 cricket with his all-round abilities.
Curran can be used as a pinch hitter anywhere in the batting lineup. With Chennai Super Kings playing in batting-friendly conditions in Mumbai, Curran can surely provide impetus to the inning at any position. In 14 innings last season, he scored 186 runs at a striker rate of 141. With the ball, he picked up 13 wickets for CSK. Those numbers are incredibly good for an all-rounder, but Curran has the potential to contribute more runs with the bat. IPL 2021 could be a huge season for Curran as he looks to book a place in England’s T-20 squad. (Stats courtesy: IPLT20)
Punjab Kings struggled with the ball in the first half of IPL 2020. They managed to go on a good run in the second half of the tournament, but it was not enough to qualify for the playoffs. In IPL 2021 auction, Punjab Kings spent heavily on the bowling unit. The biggest signing was Australia’s Jhye Richardson for Rs 14 crores.
Richardson enjoyed a terrific Big Bash League 2021 with Perth Scorchers. On pitches with pace and bounce, the Australian bowler took 29 wickets in 17 innings at an economy rate of 7.69 runs per over. Bowling on Indian pitches will be a bit difficult, but Richardson is currently in the form of his life. It will be intriguing to see how he will be leading the bowling attack for Punjab Kings this season. (Stats courtesy: Perth Scorchers)
Another Punjab Kings player to watch out for this season is Nicholas Pooran. The dashing left-handed batsman enjoyed a good IPL 2020. He managed to score 353 runs at a strike rate of 170. The numbers are outstanding for Pooran, but he needs to find consistency this season.
Considering his ability to hit the ball across all corners of the ground, Pooran should be looking at 450-500 runs this season. Going for runs doesn’t mean he should try to curb his attacking hitting. Punjab can score more freely in middle overs if Pooran gets going. On his day, he can single-handedly win matches for his team. However, this season he should be looking to have more days when he is unplayable. (Stats courtesy: IPLT20)
Along with spending heavily on Chris Morris, Rajasthan Royals got themselves a bargain in Liam Livingstone. He recently showed his hitting ability during the ODI series against India. The spin bowling all-rounder was bought for Rs 75 lakhs by Royals.
Livingstone may not start all games, but he is currently in the middle of good hitting form in T-20 cricket. For Perth Scorcher, Livingstone managed to score 426 runs at a strike rate of 133 with 28 sixes during BBL 2020/21. He also took five wickets for Perth, so his utilization by RR will be an interesting development to follow this season. (Stats courtesy: Perth Scorchers)
Royal Challengers Bangalore decided to fork a fortune (Rs 4.80 crores) to sign veteran all-rounder Dan Christian. The 38-year-old all-rounder has rediscovered form in the twilight of his career. For Melbourne Renegades, he was probably the best player due to his contribution with bat and ball during BBL 2020/21.
Christian scored 272 runs at a remarkable strike rate of 182 for Renegades. He ended the season with a healthy average of 34. With the ball, Christian managed to take 15 wickets in 14 matches. Even though he was expensive with the ball, he always came up with breakthroughs for Renegades. If Christian manages to maintain this form in IPL 2021, then Virat Kohli will get an incredible depth and bowling department. (Stats courtesy: Melbourne Renegades)