Necessity is the mother of invention, and in the case of some Indian T20 League teams, it can lead to the discovery of sheer genius on the cricket pitch. When their backs were against the wall, these teams took a chance on change and it paid off in spades.
We look at five instances where replacement players unlocked the key to hidden fortunes for teams that took the chance on them.
Imran Tahir replaced Mitchell Marsh (Pune 2017)
2016 was not a kind year to Pune when it came to injuries and 2017 seemed to follow in the same thread as Mitchell Marsh was out of the picture even before the season got underway. As a replacement, Pune brought in leg-spinner Imran Tahir and the decision seemed to have been the harbinger for a much-needed change in fortunes for the squad, as we'll learn when we go to our next pick. The South African bowled crucial spells, bagging scalps with ruthless efficiency during the middle overs. It culminated in a season that saw him be the best bowler of the team in half the 12 matches he played in, picking up 18 wickets as Pune finished second in the points that season.
Washington Sundar replaced Ravichandran Ashwin (Pune 2017)
The same year as Tahir came in as a super-sub for Pune, they also enjoyed the services of another replacement in Washington Sundar, who was brought in after Ravichandran Ashwin was yet another to have been put out by injury that season. The Indian U-19 player was a boon to sort Pune's opening quandaries that saw their average Powerplay score balloon to as high as 60 till then. Bowling with sublime precision as an opener, Sundar helped Pune clamp their bleeding during Powerplay, finishing the season with an economy rate of 6.16.
Lendl Simmons replaced Jalaj Saxena (Mumbai 2014)
In 2014, Mumbai got off to a start that was highly uncharacteristic of the now four-time Indian T20 League champions, coming up on the losing end in the opening five matches of the season. It was during this phase that they brought in Lendl Simmons to replace Jalaj Saxena to open their batting. The move paid off. Playing with a measured approach, Simmons got Mumbai off to much better starts, with a century against Punjab standing out in particular, and rounded out the season with a 394-run haul from eight matches.
Simmons continued his form the following year, striking up a good partnership with Parthiv Patel at the top and finishing the season second in runs scored behind David Warner and helping Mumbai win their second title.
Doug Bollinger replaced Jacob Oram (Chennai 2010)
Like they are in 2020, Chennai had a wretched start to the season ten years ago in 2010, losing five of their first seven matches, and subsequently, Doug Bollinger was brought in to replace the injured Jacob Oram. Right off the bat, the move paid off, as in his first game, he bowled at 3.75 and bagged the prized scalp of Shane Watson and then took out Yusuf Pathan, changing the course of the contest in Chennai's favour. Then, he beat Deccan in the semi-finals with a 4-1-13-4 spell and topped it off with another outstanding performance to help his side win the final. Bollinger went on to play a key role in Chennai defending the title the following year, as he picked up 17 wickets.
Chris Gayle replaced Dirk Nannes (Bangalore 2011)
Bangalore snared up Chris Gayle at the last moment in 2011 after most of the other teams gave him a miss due to his international commitments that were soon to become a non-factor anyway after he fell out with the Windies Cricket Board. Living up to his surname, Gayle brought in a storm of runs for Bangalore and won the Orange Cap that year and the next. Between 2011-13, Gayle racked up an astounding 2049 runs in 43 matches, peppered by four tons and 14 half-centuries.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Sajjad Hussain