The eighth season of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) got underway on Tuesday and tournament favourites Trinbago Knight Riders got off to a winning start with a comfortable four-wicket victory over the Guyana Amazons Warriors.
Fans of Indian cricket will keep a close eye on the Knight Riders, hoping to see Indian leg-spinner Pravin Tambe in action. With the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) barring players under a central contract from playing in T20 tournaments overseas, the 48-year-old’s appearance in the CPL would be a landmark moment.
While it is unlikely that a top Indian cricketer will be allowed to play in the CPL in the near future, they certainly would be a top addition to any of the six sides in the league.
Every team in the tournament this year has a hole to fill in their squad, and we take a look at which current Indian player could really bolster a CPL team:
Barbados Tridents – Rohit Sharma
With Alex Hales and Marcus Stoinis missing out this season, the defending champions lack a power punch at the top of the batting lineup. In their opening match, their top three of Johnson Charles, Shai Hope and Corey Anderson scored a cumulative of just eight runs, already exposing the terrible state of their top order.
Indian opener Rohit Sharma would be the perfect fit for the Tridents. The Mumbai Indians skipper and Indian team vice-captain is a serial winner and a run-machine in the shortest format of the game. Depending on the personnel, Sharma can bat anywhere between 1-4 in the batting order. Sharma can anchor the inning as well as be the aggressor when needed, making him the best fit for the Tridents in their top order.
Guyana Amazon Warriors – Jasprit Bumrah
In Ross Taylor, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran and Sherfane Rutherford, the Guyana Amazon Warriors boast of a lot of firepower in their batting order.
Imran Tahir’s presence in the bowling unit gives them a terrific spin bowling option, however, their pace attack of Naveen Ul-Haq, Keemo Paul and Romario Shephard is rather tame and is likely to be exposed at the death.
Standout Indian pacer Jasprit Bumrah could really elevate the Warriors’ bowling unit. Perhaps the best white-ball bowler on the planet, Bumrah is a menace with the new ball and almost impossible to get the better of at the death owing to his plethora of variations and a toe-crushing yorker.
A pacer like Bumrah can help with the Warriors’ issue of conceding in the death overs and get them timely breakthroughs when necessary.
Trinbago Knight Riders – Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Tournament favourites Trinbago Knight Riders have a team that is stacked from top to bottom.
However, like the Warriors, the three-time champions, outside of Dwayne Bravo, lack a proper death bowler in their arsenal.
And in that case, Indian pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar would be the ideal fit for the team. Kumar, historically, has been incredible at the death and can swing the new ball both ways, making him one of the most proficient bowlers in T20 cricket. With Bravo and Kumar bowling at the death, the five other teams will find it extremely difficult to finish their innings strong against these two.
Jamaica Tallawahs – Suryakumar Yadav
Rovman Powell, Andre Russell, Asif Ali and Carlos Brathwaite form a formidable middle order for the Jamaica Tallawahs. However, their power-packed batting lineup is susceptible against spin bowling and a team with a couple of good spinners could really put the shackles on the Tallawahs.
In Suryakumar Yadav, the two-time champions would have a player who is extremely well-versed against spin and can really hold up one end and attack the spinners while also anchoring the innings for the side.
Yadav has been tremendous for Mumbai Indians in the IPL at the top of the order and could slot in and perfectly compliment the Tallawahs’ hard-hitting middle order.
St. Lucia Zouks – Hardik Pandya
The St. Lucia Zouks are yet to make it to the playoffs of the CPL and are aiming to end their drought this season.
However, their middle order, outside of Royston Chase, is extremely brittle and could be their undoing this season. The explosive Hardik Pandya would really improve the St. Lucia Zouks’ batting order. The all-rounder is one of the cleanest hitters in the game and possesses the ability to turn the game on its head in just a couple of overs.
With captain Darren Sammy holding up one end, Pandya can deal some heavy damage from the other, making him the ideal fit for the Zouks.
St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots – MS Dhoni
In Chris Lynn and Evin Lewis, the Patriots have one of the most explosive opening pairs in CPL.
However, its all downhill post the openers. Joshua Da Silva is pretty raw, whereas Ben Dunk, Dinesh Ramdin and Jahmar Hamilton do not inspire much confidence.
Slot in Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the Patriots’ middle order improve tremendously. With Dhoni batting at #5 or #6, Da Silva and Dunk will have the license to go after the bowling attack and when the former Indian skipper is in attack mode, Ramdin can sit back and hold the other end.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Noah Seelam, Indranil Mukherjee