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8 gamechangers who missed IPL 2017

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IPL_players_gamechangers_missed_T20_CricketThe 10th IPL took place in the absence of some big names. Although players like de Villiers, Kohli, Jadeja & Umesh Yadav returned after missing a few games, teams really missed the following players very much. 

1. Dwayne Bravo

T20 sensation Dwayne Bravo picked up a hamstring injury during his Big Bash commitments and was not able to recover for IPL. Bravo is essential for balancing the Gujarat Lions squad with his abilities with both bat and ball. The West Indian great is one of the finest T20 bowlers across the world and is more than handy with the bat. 

The king of slower deliveries tops the list of the highest number of T20 scalps with 367 wickets. A dream player for any captain or coach. Not just the wickets, he also comes in at number 6 or 7 and plays some important innings for his team. He is arguably one of the best finishers of a T20 game with both ball and bat in hand. A go to man for any crisis. 

On top of his achievements with bat and ball, he is one of the top 5 fielders around. A charismatic character and a team player. Gujarat Lions missed him badly this year, consistently suffering losses even after scoring 180 – 200 runs. They tried James Faulkner but he could not fill the big boots of this West Indian great.

2. Andre Russell

The Caribbean may have stopped producing great Test fast bowlers but they are producing some great T20 players. Consider this superman from Jamaica. An integral part of KKR line up, he failed to feature in this year’s IPL due to a doping-related ban. 

One of the most destructive finishers of a T20 innings with incredible power hitting ability, he has powered KKR to many victories almost single-handedly. Although KKR did well this year, that was because of the start they got from the top order. They took some bold decisions that paid off for a while. 

But the finisher role was not carried out with the same intensity. With both Yusuf Pathan and Colin de Grandhomme failing to deliver, KKR missed the Russell’s firepower at the end. To cover up, they shuffled the batting order, trying out Lynn and Narine at the top which worked for a while. But that is not an answer to an average finish at the backend. 

Russell’s absence also forced KKR to play an extra bowler, as he has been one of the front line fast bowlers for the team, both at the start and at the death. He picks up crucial wickets in almost every match. With Eden Gardens pitch turning into a seam bowling paradise this year, he would have been more than handy. 

His loss hindered the team combination with the star all-rounder Shakib Al Hassan having to sit out. Even his brilliance in the field was missed. We have seen some magic moments in the field over the years from this man. He is probably the best fielder in the world now with his acrobatic abilities. 

3. Mitchell Starc

Starc missed out this year with a fracture in his right foot. He is an artist who can swing the ball both ways in most conditions at furious pace. He can be a nightmare for any batting line up in any format. One of the most complete bowlers around with toe-crushering yorkers and head-smashing bouncers in his armoury. Not to forget the change of pace without any hint. He is the best fast bowler in recent times. 

RCB was demolished by each and every team this season. The star-studded batting line up failed to fire. Their bowling has been a disaster in many matches, especially against the KKR where they conceded 105 in the first six overs. It would have been a different story if Starc was a part of the line up. He would have given a proper balance in the bowling line up and an added motivation. 

Also, he would have been more than handy at number 7 or 8 with his clean hitting abilities, as we saw during the Test series against India.

4. KL Rahul

Mr. Dependable, for RCB last year and for India in all formats and in all conditions, missed out this season with a shoulder injury. RCB tried different combinations in the opening slot with Mandeep, Watson, Kohli along with Gayle but failed miserably. 

The absence of Rahul took a toll on the batting order. With Gayle not firing as per expectation, the stability at the top took a blow. With the form Rahul was in, he would have been a great asset for this team. 

5. Quinton de Kock

He has been the most prolific batsman for South Africa in recent times. Not just the runs, but the pace at which he gets them is remarkable. One can easily compare this young South African Keeper to Adam Gilchrist, especially in the shorter formats where he can take the game away from any opposition with some quality hitting. 

He missed out this season with a finger injury, denting the hopes of the Delhi Daredevils. With Sanju Samson being in form this season, de Kock’s presence would have been a blessing for the Delhi franchise at the top. They tried out Sam Billings and Karun Nair alongside Samson, but both failed to deliver consistently. With a wonderful batting line up comprised of upcoming young Indian players, his international experience would have come in handy.

6. JP Duminy

The crisis man for South Africa and Delhi Daredevils over the years opted out of this year’s IPL due to personal reasons. Flamboyant but inconsistent, Delhi’s batting missed his stability in the middle order. We saw some brilliance with Samson and Pant playing some classy innings, but apart from that we also saw the team getting bundled out for 67 against Punjab. 

The best part about Duminy is that he can play in two different gears. He can be a wonderful touch player and improviser, as well as a power hitter. He plays according to the situation. His presence at number 4 would have been crucial for the talented but inexperienced batting line up.

7. Murali Vijay

Class and finesse are the terms associated with this right hander, who missed this year’s IPL nursing a wrist injury. Kings XI Punjab is known for their power hitting. But, as always, the drawback of a power hitting batting line up can be inconsistency. All they need is a decent start at the top of the innings and the rest can be taken care by some destructive power hitters coming in at numbers 4, 5 & 6. 

Hashim Amla was somewhat consistent, but Manan Vohra failed to impress, apart from the 95 against SRH. The experience of Murali Vijay would have come in handy, especially during the closing group stage matches where they needed to win some crucial games. They were destroyed by RPS in their last must-win match. 

Vijay has been a prolific run getter in IPL cricket. He was in decent touch during the home Test season for India. One great asset in his game as an opener is that he plays the spinners wonderfully. With teams opening the bowling with spinners nowadays, that would have been invaluable. 

8. R. Ashwin

The magician who successfully filled the boots of the great Harbhajan Singh has been a star performer for India and 2 IPL franchises: Chennai Super Kings and Rising Pune Supergiant. He missed out this year recovering from a mild sports hernia while getting ready to spearhead the Indian attack at the upcoming Champions Trophy

He has been brilliant in all forms of the game, spinning the ball both ways with a miserly line and length and variations in speed. His mystery balls are quite hard to pick and bowls at the start of the innings not just economically but also picking wickets at regular intervals. 

He has been one of the most consistent spinner in IPL cricket over the years. He became doubly dangerous with his recently found batting form. Although he has been successful with the bat in the longer formats, we can say that it is just a matter of time till he starts scoring big runs in the shortest format. 

His absence did not hinder the performance of the Rising Pune Supergiant as they smoothly progressed to the finals of this season. While all other teams failed to cope up with their big player losses, Pune found a way to introduce the 17-year old Washington Sundar who eventually became a huge find for Indian cricket in years to come. 

Sundar has been superb with his economy this year. When it mattered, he delivered with a 3/16 in the Qualifier against Mumbai Indians. He has been bowling in the powerplay overs wonderfully. Here’s hoping Ashwin comes back to the Indian team with a bang as this time it’s the Champions Trophy at stake.

 

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