SARAH WARIS | 1 MAY, 2018
IPL 2018: Icons Who Played Below Expectations
Teams wait for their comeback
The Indian Premier League remain a one-stop destination for players – experienced and inexperienced – from world over to share a common platform where they can display their mettle and their ability on the grand stage. Whilst some youngsters grab on to this opportunity to make a name for themselves in the cricketing world, other big-names often go under the radar, where they remain overshadowed by the emerging stars.
If last season, Shane Watson failed to get going, this season players like Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and Brendon McCullum are struggling to make a mark. Here, we list a player from each franchise who has been unable to perform to expectations in IPL 2018, with teams desperately hoping they can stage a comeback.
Chennai Super Kings – Ravindra Jadeja
Chennai Super Kings currently sit atop the points table with 5 wins from 7 games, needing just 3 wins more to cement their place in the top-four. The side has been flourishing due to Shane Watson’s all-round skills and youngster Ambati Rayudu’s maturity at the top of the order, while MS Dhoni is back to his raging best in the death.
However, the bowling attack still looks pretty vulnerable and one player who has failed to make any kind of an impact is Ravindra Jadeja. The left-hander who has been relegated to the side-lines from the national team, would have been desperately hoping to make amends in the T20 league, just like Ravichandran Ashwin, who too had to face a similar fate once Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal impressed in the Indian colours.
The left-hander has bowled just 10 overs so far in the IPL – in which he has seem ineffective and vastly disoriented, giving away 84 runs. His economy rate stands at 8.4 and his average is a poor 84 with the ball. With the bat as well, he has failed to get going, scoring just 39 runs in 7 games, with an average of 15.66 and a strike-rate of 120.51. In the first few games, when Dhoni had still not found his momentum and Suresh Raina was finding his groove, Jadeja’s lack of form with the bat could have proved a major handicap to his side. Currently, the bowling department could do well with his services, as they have been leaking runs in plenty, and it is time the Rajkot bowler comes good in the rest of the games.
Delhi Daredevils – Mohammad Shami
Mohammad Shami was in the news before the commencement of the IPL due to allegations that had been levied by his wife, but once the cricketing action unfolded, it was expected that the skilled pacer would forget all his worries and focus on his game. The Delhi Daredevils side, had, before the IPL, a formidable bowling attack that comprised of Trent Boult, Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada and Shami but their woes have started multiplying after first Rabada and then Morris were ruled out due to injury. In that scenario, Boult and Shami had to take on the responsibility and while the Kiwi bowler has been in prime form, Shami has struggled.
In 4 games, he conceded 144 runs and an economy of over 10.40 from a premier bowler is highly unacceptable. He picked up just 3 wickets before being dropped from the side and even though Delhi had one of the strongest teams on paper, the bad form of Amit Mishra, Gautam Gambhir and Shami, along with injury issues, have meant that they currently lie at the bottom of the points table with just two wins from 7 games.
Kings Xi Punjab – Aaron Finch
The aggressive Australian batsman was supposed to be one of the mainstays of the Kings XI Punjab middle order along with Yuvraj Singh. Much was expected from the big-hitter after he scored more than 300 runs in both 2016 and 2017 in the IPL, but Finch this year has had a shambolic run so far. In 6 games, he has just scored 24 runs, with a below-par average of 6 with the bat.
Though Punjab is being led by KL Rahul and Chris Gayle beautifully at the top, and with Andrew Tye and Mujeeb ur Rahman with the ball and stand second in the points table, their middle-order has gone untested so far and there will be occasions when the squad will need their big-hitter Finch to fire.
Kolkata Knight Riders – Mitchell Johnson
After Mitchell Starc was ruled out of the tournament due to injury, the onus lay on his senior Australian teammate Mitchell Johnson to guide a team of young pacers in the KKR line-up. Coming into the IPL after a fiery Big Bash League increased hopes from the destructive bowler, but hence far, he has been one of the weak links of the squad. Out of KKR’s 8 games, he has played 4 – picking up just 2 wickets at an economy rate of 10 runs per over.
He has failed to curtail the runs and on most matches, has not even completed his full quota of overs, which reemphasises the disappointment that he has brought to the camp.
Mumbai Indians – Keiron Pollard
Every season, it is the West Indians who bring their own unique flavour into the IPL. While Gayle’s sixes are a big-hit, Bravo’s dance moves are highly anticipated. Russell is a through-and-through match winner while Narine has his own charisma. Keiron Pollard, over the years has never failed to thrill as well – be it with his big hits down the order or by mocking the umpires by sticking a piece of Sellotape over his mouth, but this season he has been terribly below-par. In 6 games, he has just scored 63 runs with a high score of 28, and his strike-rate that is usually above 140 has been a dismal 110.52 this year. To add to the woes, captain Rohit Sharma has not used him to bowl even once and in an already struggling line-up, Pollard’s no-show is proving to be quite costly.
Rajasthan Royals – Jaydev Unadkat
All eyes were on Jaydev Unadkat - the costliest Indian IPL player bought in the auction this season. After bagging 24 wickets for Rising Pune Supergiant last year, the former KKR bowler, it was deemed, was worth the price tag of INR 11.5 crores that the Rajasthan management splurged on him. However, they have been left red-faced as he has managed to pick up just 4 wickets in 22 overs that he has bowled so far. His economy rate in the 7 games is well over 10 and even though youngsters like Sanju Samson are pitching in with their best, Unadkat’s price tag, it seems is weighing heavily on the Saurashtra player.
Royal Challengers Bangalore – Sarfaraz Khan
Even though Brendon McCullum has been having a torrid season with RCB as well, it is Sarfaraz Khan who has been the biggest disappointment from the camp. The franchise surprised one and all by retaining the 20-year-old even though he did not play a game last year as he was injured and played only 5 games in 2016.
After emerging as the player to watch out for in 2015, Virat Kohli dropped Sarfaraz in 2016 as the player was not deemed a quick fielder by the India skipper. Despite these setbacks, Sarfaraz has the opportunity to turn things around with a successful comeback in 2018.
The RCB side entrusted him with the finishing role, after Kohli and AB de Villiers would give the team the required starts, but so far, the youngster has been a massive let-down. In 3 games, he managed only 11 runs with a strike-rate of 64.70, leaving his side in the lurch. Sans proven finishers, RCB are being forced to play Pawan Negi in place of Sarfaraz, who too has been unable to make the stage his own. Much was expected from the young cricketer, but he has failed miserably.
Sunrisers Hyderabad – Wriddhiman Saha
Undoubtedly one of the best wicket-keepers in the country, with Michael Clarke even calling him as good as MS Dhoni, Wriddhiman Saha has been a massive blemish in SRH’s charge to the number 2 position on the points table. In the absence of David Warner, the batting order had to take up the responsibility of firing, and even though Kane Williamson and to an extent Shikhar Dhawan have been successful, SRH have been let down by Manish Pandey and Saha.
Pandey did score a well-crafted 50 in Hyderabad’s previous gam, which means that it is Saha alone who has failed to contribute. In 8 games, he has made 79 runs with a strike-rate of 112.85. In the last 4 seasons, Saha has been in fine form in the IPL, scoring above 230 runs in each of those seasons, but an average of 13.16 this year hardly does justice to a player of his calibre.
With the big-guns failing consistently, the IPL franchises would all but hope that by the business end of the tournament, their icons can pick up form and lead the way for their respective franchises.