A season that could have been for most of the Indian T20 League teams if only they had no injuries to worry about.
This is the ninth in a series of features where we will be taking a detailed dive into the various factors that stood out during the course of the Indian T20 League 2020 season.
Injuries are an unavoidable aspect of any sport and each team in the Indian T20 League is expected to have a squad large enough to negate the loss of a player through injury.
"Injuries are a part of the game, and I know that very well," said Lee. "When you give it your all in any sport, there's bound to be a niggle or two from time to time. This season, we certainly saw that play out again and my heart goes out to the teams affected by these twists of fate (no pun intended)."
"Chennai's woes of losing Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh were further accentuated by the loss of Dwayne Bravo to injury. Then there's Delhi who had to make do without Ishant Sharma, who was so instrumental for them last season. And who's to say things wouldn't have played out differently for Hyderabad if they didn't have to do without Kane Williamson having to sit out the first four games of the season?"
However, the loss of a key cog of a side can deeply hamper a team or even derail their campaign, as we saw this season. Below we take a look at three players who missed parts of the season which impacted their team heavily during it:
Chennai – Dwayne Bravo
For close to a decade, West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo has been Chennai's go-to bowler for breakthroughs and at the death, and the wily veteran's record speaks volumes of his impact for the three-time champions.
However, he played just six matches this season owing to injuries and his absence was a huge blow to Chennai, who missed the playoffs for the first time in their 11 seasons in the Indian T20 League. Having missed the playoffs by just two points, Bravo’s presence for the entirety of the season would have surely made a world of difference for Chennai.
Delhi - Ishant Sharma
Delhi made it to their first final in the Indian T20 League but were hammered by Mumbai who went on to their fifth title and second on the trot. Delhi's bowling lineup simply couldn’t contain Mumbai's stacked batting order, but things could have been different had Ishant Sharma not missed all but one match this season. Sharma was instrumental last season for Delhi, picking up 13 wickets at an outstanding economy rate of 7.58.
Delhi struggled to find a third seamer to compliment Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje. They tried multiple options, starting with the 29-year-old Harshad Patel before trying out rookie Tushar Deshpande and even playing around with their foreign quartet by bringing in Daniel Sams, but none of them came close to replicating Sharma’s impact from last season. The pitches in the UAE were incredibly conducive to the bowlers who were willing to bang it short and Sharma’s height would have certainly aided him in exploiting the extra bounce that the pitches offered.
Hyderabad – Kane Williamson
Hyderabad made it to the playoffs by the skin of their teeth, leaving matters as late as the final match of the league season to confirm their place in the top four. However, things could have panned quite differently had Kane Williamson not missed the first four games of this season.
Williamson missed Hyderabad’s opening two matches of the season, which they lost by 10 runs and seven wickets respectively, largely due to a middle-order collapse. Williamson missed two more matches through another injury niggle, which resulted in a win and a loss for Hyderabad. Overall, of their 16 matches this season, Hyderabad won seven out of 12 with Williamson in the team and won just one of four without him, illustrating just how crucial he is to the team. Hyderabad was the only team apart from Mumbai with a positive net run rate at the end of the league stage, meaning had they won one more game, they would have finished in the second spot, ahead of Delhi and earned themselves two chances to make it to the final.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Noah Seelam