They say T20 cricket is a young man’s game but time and time again, veterans have shown that age is just a number and they have a place in the shortest of three formats.
With the 12th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) about to get under way, youngsters and veterans alike are all set to rub shoulders in the biggest franchise T20 league in the world.
Here, we take a look at the top five veteran players who will be under the spotlight during IPL 2019.
AMIT MISHRA – DELHI CAPITALS
A player who has been a permanent fixture in IPL history is Amit Mishra with the Delhi leg-spinner set to play in his 12th season. Mishra is the second highest wicket-taker in IPL history with 146 scalps and is only behind Lasith Malinga (154).
With the role of leg-spinners becoming increasingly significant in T20 cricket in recent years, Mishra has been handed a new lease of life. The 36-year-old made 10 appearances for Delhi in 2018, picking up 12 wickets, and will in all probability play a major part in the upcoming campaign as well.
Delhi also have Nepal leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane in their ranks but Mishra’s experience will be critical and it will not be a surprise to see both players feature in the playing XI simultaneously.
YUVRAJ SINGH – MUMBAI INDIANS
At 37, Yuvraj Singh is the oldest Indian in the fray in the upcoming IPL. The former India star all-rounder was once one of the most sought-after names in the league but his reputation has taken a massive beating following his displays for Kings XI Punjab last year.
The left-hander could only muster a paltry 65 runs from eight appearances in 2018 before being subsequently released from his contract. Yuvraj then nearly went unsold in the IPL auction this year before being brought at his base price by Mumbai Indians.
It is probably due to his reputation alone and the marketing opportunities it opens up that Yuvraj has found a taker for his services. If his 2018 performances are anything to go by, the star name is now a spent force and it would be a surprise to see him get more than a handful of games for Mumbai in the upcoming season.
SHANE WATSON – CHENNAI SUPER KINGS
Also 37, Shane Watson is not exactly a spring chicken anymore but the veteran Australian is ageing like superbly well if his recent displays are anything to go by.
It was through the IPL that Watson worked his way back into the Australia squad following his exceptional displays for Rajasthan Royals in the 2008 edition. While he has participated in every single IPL edition so far bar 2009, Watson’s best-ever display in the competition came only last year with the Super Kings.
The opening batsman amassed 555 runs in Chennai’s title-winning campaign and registered two tons, including one in the final. He has been in terrific form in the ongoing Pakistan Super League (PSL) as well for Quetta Gladiators where he is currently the leading run-scorer in the competition.
With the ominous form he’s currently in, expect Watson to repeat or even better his 2018 heroics for Chennai.
IMRAN TAHIR – CHENNAI SUPER KINGS
Getting older and 39-year-old Imran Tahir is the oldest player in the competition with the South African set for a second year with Chennai Super Kings. The Pakistan-born leg-spinner has been a proven performer for his country in the limited-overs formats over the years and will no doubt play a big part in the upcoming World Cup in England as well.
While Tahir will be determined to put on a good show in the World Cup, which will be his international swansong, the veteran is expected to struggle for game time at Chennai.
He was given only six appearances in the competition last year and the upcoming edition could see his game time curtailed even further, especially with Mitchell Santner coming back from injury.
CHRIS GAYLE – KINGS XI PUNJAB
Gayle nearly went unsold in the 2018 IPL auction before he was picked up by Kings XI Punjab at the behest of Virender Sehwag. That turned out to be a masterstroke with the ‘Universe Boss’ putting together some explosive innings while forging a lethal partnership with KL Rahul.
It looked like the veteran’s playing days were coming to an end this year when he announced his intention to retire from the ODI format following the completion of the ICC World Cup. However, Gayle was sensational in the West Windies’ recent ODI series against England where he blasted 424 runs in four innings with the help of a staggering 39 sixes.
There is clearly still some life left in the old warhorse and T20 cricket’s biggest superstar in history will be desperate to remind the IPL that he is still the king. With over 12,000 runs in the format and a whopping 21 centuries, they don’t come much better than Gayle in T20 cricket, and Kings XI fans could be in for a treat if he gets going in India.
In his new role, Ganguly will work closely with head coach Ricky Ponting and his support staff at Delhi in the upcoming IPL edition which begins on March 23.
“I am very pleased to come on board with the Delhi Capitals,” Ganguly was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India (PTI).
“Having known the Jindals and the JSW Group for years, I am now excited to be a part of their latest sports venture. I am really looking forward to working with the players and the support staff.”
Formerly known as Delhi Daredevils, the franchise is still searching for their maiden IPL title. The team will be led by young Shreyas Iyer in the upcoming edition and will open their campaign away to Mumbai Indians on March 24.
Having roped in Ganguly’s expertise for the upcoming edition, Delhi are hoping to make amends for their bottom-place finish in 2018.
“Sourav is one of the most astute minds in world cricket. A lot of what we see in Indian cricket today was born because of Sourav,” Delhi Capitals chairman Parth Jindal stated.
“His aggression, positivity and never say die attitude are traits we want the Delhi Capitals team to imbibe. It is truly an honour that Sourav has chosen Delhi as his IPL team.
“I have no doubt that our team will benefit immensely from his experience, guidance and advice. Sourav has been like family to me and I am deeply humbled to have him as an advisor.”
International cricket’s biggest stars will be on show in the subcontinent when the 12th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) gets under way on March 23.
There will no shortage of star power – both Indian and overseas – as the eight franchises get ready to battle it out for the top prize. As is the case always, the domestic talent pool will be crucial to each side’s ambitions.
Here, we take a look at the one key India player in each of the eight teams.
SUNRISERS HYDERABAD – SIDDARTH KAUL
With Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s workload set to be managed carefully in the lead up to the World Cup, Siddarth Kaul’s role for Sunrisers Hyderabad has become even more significant.
The medium-pacer was excellent for the 2018 IPL finalists and picked up 21 wickets at a strike-rate of less than 19. Those displays saw Kaul even earn an India call up and the bowler has since featured sporadically at the international level.
Another successful campaign for Kaul could see him sneak into the World Cup squad as a reserve pacer and he will be determined to stake his claim for the same. Watch out for the ‘knuckle-ball’ slower deliveries that were a big hit for him last season.
CHENNAI SUPER KINGS – MS DHONI
Having led Chennai Super Kings to their third IPL title last year in what was an emotional return for the competition after suspension for the franchise, Dhoni will look to make it number four in the upcoming edition.
The veteran wicketkeeper was in excellent form with the bat last year where he had his most prolific individual campaign since the 2013 edition. Dhoni scored 455 runs at a staggering average of 75.83 while maintaining a strike-rate of over 150.
The IPL will be the perfect opportunity for the Chennai skipper to sharpen up for the World Cup which is expected to be his India swansong.
DELHI CAPITALS – RISHABH PANT
The 21-year-old has quickly become a household name after a breakout year in international cricket which saw him become the first India wicketkeeper to register Test tons on English and Australian soil.
Such have been his displays at the international level that it is easy to forget Pant had a brilliant season with the Delhi franchise last year. The youngster amassed 684 runs from 14 innings at an average of 52.61 while registering a high score of 128. All this, while batting at a sensational strike-rate of nearly 174.
With a year of international cricket under his belt, Pant will be determined to go even further in the upcoming edition and Delhi fans can expect plenty of fireworks.
KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS – KULDEEP YADAV
Over the past two years or so, the youngster has quickly gone on to establish himself as one of the top limited-overs bowlers in the world. With the World Cup coming up in England, Kuldeep will want to get into good rhythm while also testing himself against the world’s best batsmen.
The 24-year-old played a key role in Kolkata Knight Riders’ march to the play-off last year by picking up 17 wickets and he looks poised to have his best IPL campaign yet following the improvement he has shown at the international level.
KINGS XI PUNJAB – KL RAHUL
It has not been the best of years for KL Rahul at the international level with the top-order batsman squandering opportunity after opportunity to cement a place in the India side.
Rahul’s mercurial displays for India over the past few months are all the more baffling given the stupendous IPL campaign he had last season with Kings XI. The right-hander scored 659 runs in 14 matches at an average of over 54 and nearly dragged the franchise to the play-off single-handedly.
He was expected to kick on for India post those displays but that hasn’t really happened. With a berth in the World Cup squad still up for grabs, expect Rahul to come out in the IPL with a big point to prove.
ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE – VIRAT KOHLI
What Dhoni is to Chennai, Virat Kohli has been for Royal Challengers Bangalore minus the IPL titles. The India skipper has been with the franchise since the inception of the IPL in 2008 but his wait for a maiden title continues.
Kohli has led Bangalore from the front more often than not but his individual displays have not been able to translate into success for the side. With the frustration of RCB’s title drought building with each passing edition, the pressure will be on Kohli to deliver in 2019.
Bangalore fans will be hoping the Kohli of 2016 makes a return when the skipper notched up four centuries in a single edition then.
MUMBAI INDIANS – HARDIK PANDYA
There is no shortage of match-winners for the three-time champions with India stalwarts Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah within their ranks. However, it is Hardik Pandya who is arguably the biggest game-changer.
The India all-rounder initially created waves playing in the IPL for Mumbai but is yet to truly convince at the international level with some inconsistent displays.
Having missed India’s clashes with Australia due to a stiff back, Pandya will be determined to use the IPL as a preparatory board for the World Cup where he will play a key role.
RAJASTHAN ROYALS – SANJU SAMSON
While the strength of their overseas contingent is second to none, Rajasthan Royals are a little light on the domestic department going into the IPL. The 2008 champions will be heavily reliant on Sanju Samson who has long been heralded as a future India star but has failed to do justice to his talents.
The Kerala youngster has been with Rajasthan for some time now and enjoyed his best-ever IPL campaign last year where he scored a total of 441 runs with the help of three half-centuries.
Inconsistency has let Samson down time and time again and his campaign last year ran out of steam towards the latter stages. Now 24, Samson is not just a promising youngster anymore and he will need to seize his opportunity in the upcoming edition. If he gets going, Rajasthan could go far in the competition.