The conclusion of the 2020 Indian T20 League was supposed to be an end of an era for some of the legends of the tournament, with some of the most experienced and successful names of the competition bidding farewell to it.
Instead, the global virus forced a delayed and hastily organized tournament outside India and ensured that the following edition remained muddled as well. Hence, the originally scheduled mega-auction has now been pushed by a year with all the teams postponing their team revamps as well.
Consequently, the 2021 Indian T20 League saw players, who have already retired from international cricket, getting picked. Here we look at five such names who are likely to play their last Indian T20 League this year.
After the former World Cup winner had left Chennai camp ahead of the start of the 2020 Indian T20 League and missed the tournament, Harbhajan Singh’s future was in serious doubt with many even predicting it to be the end of the road for the ‘Turbanator’. Though Kolkata picked the veteran spinner to everyone’s surprise, the presence of Indian spinners like Varun Chakravarthy and Kuldeep Yadav mean Bhajji will get limited game time this season. That coupled with Harbhajan’s lack of cricketing action at any level, both domestic and international since 2019 will further make him a redundant option very soon. His resume of four Indian T20 League titles and 150 wickets could only take him so far.
With the 2021 ICC T20 World Cup, which is scheduled in October and November, looming large over the Indian T20 League this year, many players have reluctantly pushed themselves for one more year. Chris Gayle is one of them. The towering southpaw’s recent outing with West Indies against Sri Lanka was underwhelming (29 runs in three T20Is) and the Indian T20 League remains his biggest platform to gain some form and confidence ahead of the World T20. Though Team Punjab has decided to stick with the power-hitter for this season, the top-order is hardly going to be in any teams’ plans next year, when he will be 42.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
As much as we dread the day when MS Dhoni will stop donning the wicket-keeping gloves forever, the truth is that his genius mind alone is no longer sufficient. Chennai finishing seventh, their lowest-ever finish in the last edition of the league, has raised many questions and while MSD could have had a glorious chance to oversee the rebuild in Chennai before hanging his boots, the lack of a mega-auction has changed his plans. Dhoni’s dwindling numbers with the bat have also played a huge role. Chennai’s 2021 auction indicates that the former India captain will look to bow out with a successful outing this season with many expecting him to take a coaching/mentoring role with the team.
Yet another Indian T20 League veteran, whose glory days are well beyond him now, Amit Mishra is likely to play his last edition this year. While the spinner saw a bidding war between Bangalore and Delhi at the 2021 auction, before the latter picked him for a price of Rs. 4 crores, Mishra is now expected to be more of a backup than the main wicket-taker. Last season in UAE, the spinner was used just thrice by Ricky Ponting and although Indian tracks will warrant more use of him, Mishra knows his peak is now over. Though he could never hit the 21-wicket mark in a season since 2013, Mishra was a handy option so far. But a 38-year-old is hardly expected to be in future plans of any team.
It was surprising to see Dinesh Karthik getting retained by Team Kolkata after his poor form last season saw him relinquishing his captaincy mid-season. Karthik’s runs have dried up significantly over the last two seasons and while many thought his last season’s tally of 169 runs in 14 matches was the final nail in the coffin, Kolkata have decided to give him one last chance. DK’s arsenal of shots make him a handy T20 player down the batting order, and the 35-year-old knows well that him doing poorly this season will snatch away the one chance he has of making it to the national team. Either way, Kolkata will have more options for finishers in the mega-auction next year and Karthik is unlikely to retain his place.
Feature Image Courtesy: AFP