South Africa pace bowler Dale Steyn‘s absence in the 2021 Indian T20 League serves as a timely blow to the Bangalore team, who now lack the intimidating factor in their ranks.
Steyn, who made his debut for the franchise in 2008 and returned in 2019, endured a horrid season in the 2020 edition as he took a solitary wicket in just three appearances.
As far as his career numbers in the Indian T20 League are concerned, the 37-year-old has featured in 95 matches and has bagged 97 wickets at an economy rate of 6.91. Judging by these figures, one can safely say that Steyn has fared well as a marquee pacer in the T20 extravaganza.
With as many as four Indian pace bowlers on their roster, it is to be seen whether Bangalore opts for a full-fledged overseas pacer or consider a formidable bowling all-rounder.
We identify four potential candidates who could fill the void left behind by Dale Steyn.
T20 stats: Matches 98, Wickets 144, Economy rate 7.16
Australia’s Mitchell Starc has been one of the X-factor bowlers in the T20 circuit, and his unique bowling abilities in the middle and death overs will be an asset for Bangalore in the Indian T20 League 2021.
Starc had last featured in the competition in 2015, where he bagged 20 wickets in 13 matches. The left-arm pacer, whose career stats read as 34 wickets in 27 matches, has opted out of multiple editions due to hectic calendar years.
The 2021 edition could witness the return of Starc in the cash-rich tournament as a like-for-like fast bowling replacement for Dale Steyn, while complementing Sri Lanka’s Isuru Udana as a left-arm bowling option in the Bangalore bowling unit.
T20 stats: Matches 117, Wickets 139, Economy rate 7.87
Kane Richardson, like Mitchell Starc, has made limited appearances in the Indian T20 League but has showcased his worth on his day. The 29-year-old, who was signed by Bangalore in the 2020 auctions, pulled out due to personal reasons but is likely to return to the fold in the upcoming edition.
Richardson was influential in Australia’s rise up to No. 1 in the ICC T20I rankings, claiming 13 wickets in 11 matches. The right-arm fast-medium bowler has played 14 games in the Indian T20 League, scalping 18 wickets at an economy rate of 8.38, and stands out as one of the preferred choices to replace Steyn, given the Aussie is familiar with the team’s bowling prowess.
T20 stats: Matches 121, Wickets 162, Economy rate 7.23
Mustafizur Rahman is fondly remembered as the first overseas player to win the ‘Emerging Player of the Tournament’ award, and also his impactful performance of 17 wickets in 16 games that propelled Hyderabad to the 2016 title.
The 25-year-old, who has featured in three Indian T20 League campaigns, is greatly revered for his ability to soak in the pressure well and bowl off-cutters that keep batsmen rather unsettled.
While injuries have plagued his career, Mustafizur has bagged 24 scalps in 24 appearances in the T20 extravaganza and eyes a comeback in the 2021 edition, as the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) denied him a NOC to participate in the 2020 Indian T20 League.
T20 stats: Matches 33, Wickets 49, Economy rate 7.96
New Zealand’s Kyle Jamieson is the only fresh face in our list of candidates to replace Dale Steyn, and considering the potential he carries, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Bangalore splashes out a hefty amount to sign the 26-year-old.
Jamieson was one of the breakthrough stars in 2020, mostly in the Test format, but his bowling variations and ability to handle pressure situations has earmarked him as a potential matchwinner.
The Auckland-born all-rounder is yet to feature in the Indian T20 League, and amongst the list of potential destinations, Bangalore seems to be a perfect hub to kick off his journey. Like Steyn, Jamieson imposes his authority in the death overs and his towering physique will play a role in generating bounce and pitch-perfect bowling lengths.
Kyle Jamieson’s 6/7 in a 2019 Super Smash fixture for Canterbury is one of the most remarkable bowling performances in T20 cricket, and Indian cricket fans will expect the Kiwi international to showcase his tenacity as a replacement for Dale Steyn at Bangalore.
Feature Image Courtesy: AFP / Marty Melville