Kings XI Punjab are hoping ace spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman is declared fit for their crucial match against Mumbai Indians in the IPL on Wednesday.
The Afghan spinner hurt his bowling hand during the match against Kolkata Knight Riders and subsequently missed the heavy defeat against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
In that match, Aussie all-rounder Marcus Stoinis played in Mujeeb’s place. Even though Stoinis has not set the stage on fire with the bat or ball, Kings XI don’t have many overseas bowling options to chose from as Andrew Tye is already in the XI. If Mujeeb is unfit for Wednesday’s match, Stoinis will most likely retain his place.
A good Fantasy Team option is Mitchell McClenaghan, if you don’t already have him. The Mumbai Indians left-arm pacer has picked up 12 wickets from 10 games and went for seven an over in the previous match.
Ben Cutting is an under-rated option – in the mould of Stoinis. Even though he is not getting to bowl many overs, his batting is effective.
The IPL mid season transfer window has come and gone without even a hint of a possible movement of players in IPL 2018.
The decision to open up a transfer window in the middle of the tournament was made in order to add another dimension to the tournament and make things interesting during the middle of the nearly two-month long event.
The window was open from April 29 to May 10. The idea was that by that time most teams would have known what the core of their side was and also identified the players surplus to their requirements. Also, players warming the bench could get an opportunity to get game time.
However, the response has been poor to the extent of being non-existent. While there was bound to be some apprehension as it was the first time something like his was being tried in the IPL, the total radio silence over the transfer window has been astonishing.
Here are the main reasons why the idea failed to take off.
From the outset, it became clear franchises would get only a small pool of players to choose from. The rules stipulated that only those who played less than two matches at the half-way mark of the tournament could be traded. That meant not a single star India cricketer was eligible for transfer, leaving the teams to choose from a handful of foreign names like Ish Sodhi and a bunch of uncapped players.
Need for secrecy
According to a report in Mid Day, one of the reasons why franchises did not show any inclination to trade even uncapped players is because they feared team secrets could be revealed and that would affect their chances during the business end of the tournament.
The report quoted a franchise official as saying that “franchise may be reluctant to release the player to another franchise when technically only eight games are remaining in the league stage.”
Teams already proactive
Over the years, franchises know how to maximise their pool of players. Most teams start the tournament with a squad size ranging from 19 to 25 players. By the time the tournament gathers pace, franchises identify the players – especially the uncapped or local players – who are surplus to their requirements and release them, sometimes as early as the third week, to save on costs.
THE WAY FORWARD
Put all players in the pool
If every player is eligible for a transfer, that would make things interesting. Franchises might still be worried about teams secrets but there could be the possibility of a team that is nearly out of contention trading a big player to a team still in the race. Also, players who are not being utilised properly by their franchise would be inclined to go to a team where they will be guaranteed proper exposure.
Keep it open throughout the IPL
Since the IPL itself is a little under two months long and matches are played daily, team requirements change in a matter of days. What a team requires in the second week is completely different to what it needs after the fourth. If the transfer window remains open throughout, or at least up to the playoffs, then franchises will continue to show interest in the idea.
Mujeeb missed the previous game against Royal Challengers Bangalore as he had failed to recover from injury to his bowling hand. In the match against Bangalore, Kings XI batsmen lost the plot completely as the team were bowled out for a mere 88 to not only lose the match by 10 wickets but also damage their net run rate.
With just two more matches to go in the round-robin phase for Punjab, Ravi Ashwin will be inclined to field Mujeeb even if the bowler is half fit as defeat would put extraordinary pressure on the team for their final match – against Chennai Super Kings.
Mumbai Indians: Suryakumar Yadav, Evin Lewis, Rohit Sharma (c), JP Duminy, Ishan Kishan (wk), Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Ben Cutting, Mitchell McClenaghan, Mayank Markande, Jasprit Bumrah
Kings XI Punjab: KL Rahul (wk), Chris Gayle, Karun Nair, Aaron Finch, Mayank Agarwal, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Axar Patel, Ravi Ashwin (c), Andrew Tye, Mohit Sharma, Ankit Rajpoot