MIA from IPL5: Russell, Tamim, Nannes and Morgan bide their time

MIAs: (From left): Andre Russell, Tamim Iqbal, Dirk Nannes and Eoin Morgan © Getty Images


By Nishad Pai Vaidya


While injuries, exclusions and retirements have deprived the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2012 of numerous international stars, there some a few notable names who are yet to play a game in the tournament despite being in the rosters of the franchises. Some of these players are renowned internationally, but haven’t been able to fit into the scheme of things for their teams and have had to settle for warming the benches.


Andre Russell, the rising star from the West Indies finds himself in a very interesting situation. Having been picked by Delhi Daredevils on the back of impressive performances at the highest level, Russell is yet to make his IPL debut. With Kevin Pietersen, Mahela Jayawardene, Ross Taylor and Morne Morkel occupying the four overseas slots in the formidable Delhi line-up, Russell’s hard-hitting batting and effective bowling could not be put to use thus far. Things may get even tougher with the arrival of David Warner, as the Australian would push for a spot at the top.


Tamim Iqbal, one of the stars of Bangladesh’s heart-warming Asia Cup campaign, is another player who hasn’t played for his franchise this season. With Marlon Samuels, Steve Smith, Jesse Ryder, Angelo Mathews and Alfonso Thomas ahead of him in the pecking order, Tamim would have to bide his time and wait for the opportunity to come his way. Samuels, Ryder and Smith have done well during this season and are the captain’s preferred choices. The only way Tamim can get a game is if any one of them runs into a bad patch paving the way for him.


However, the cases of Dirk Nannes and Charl Langeveldt are most peculiar. The duo are famed T20 cricketers as their accuracy and wicket-taking ability are ideally suited for T20 format. However, their side Royal Challengers Bangalore have rich resources of foreign players – some of them like Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers and Daniel Vettori being obvious selections. The fourth spot has been a toss-up between Muttiah Muralitharan, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Andrew McDonald. Had Langeveldt and Nannes been in any other side, they may have walked into it by virtue of their remarkable talent.


Shaun Tait’s dangerous pace can rattle the side on his day, but when he gets it wrong, runs flow at a torrential rate. It is probably this factor that keeps him out of Rajasthan Royals’ side that mainly relies on the domestic fast-bowling resources. Furthermore, amongst their foreign recruits they have two batsmen – Owais Shah and Brad Hodge – who have cemented their spots in the batting order, an all-rounder in Kevon Cooper who is taking the world by storm and two spinners in Johan Bohan and Brad Hogg who have been impressive.


Similar to Bangalore, Kolkata Knight Riders have a difficult proposition on zeroing in on their four foreign players. Players of the quality of Ryan ten Doeschate and Shakib Al Hasan have been rotated keeping the combination of the side in perspective. Brett Lee, Sunil Narine and Jacques Kallis are probably the only certainties with Brendon McCullum waiting to stamp his authority. In such a scenario, the inventive Eoin Morgan – who played the majority of the previous season – doesn’t come into the picture. The Englishman is a huge asset in the format and England have benefited greatly from his batting.


Considering Mumbai Indians’ struggle with the opening combination, it was surprising that Herschelle Gibbs hasn’t got a game yet. Richard Levi failed to shine after his fifty on IPL debut and the others who featured during Tendulkar’s absence flattered to deceive. It would have been the ideal opportunity to give Gibbs a run as he can destroy any bowling attack on his day. However, it was later revealed that an injury is keeping him out of contention. In the meantime, James Franklin’s belligerent knock against Kings XI Punjab would keep him at the top for some time. A failure or two may lead to a recurrence of Mumbai’s typical chopping and changing at the top allowing Gibbs a Mumbai debut.


Mitchell Johnson’s inclusion into the Mumbai team was lauded by captain Harbhajan Singh, but there is no news on whether he has joined the camp.


On the other hand, Paul Collingwood’s team, Rajasthan, recommended that he continue playing county cricket. The presence of a few preferred foreign players meant that it would be difficult for him to get a game and the franchise suggested that it would be better if he kept playing at home rather than travel around India warming the benches.


Apart from these big names, there are a few others who are waiting to pounce on an opportunity. George Bailey- Australia’s new T20 captain – is a part of the formidable Chennai Super Kings who have found a good opener in Faf du Plessis. Suraj Randiv too hasn’t played for Chennai this season as they bank on the spin of Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Shadab Jakati. Pune Warriors India’s Nathan McCullum and Ramesh Powar of Punjab are off-spinners who are yet to hone their skills this edition.


As the tournament would move towards its business ends, some of these players may get a chance as their teams may have secured qualification by then. In fact, some teams may be desperate to get things right and may make a few changes allowing these men to showcase their talent. However, the big names of Australian cricket are yet to arrive and that would certainly alter a few playing elevens. Thus, the wait may be even longer.


(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a club-level cricketer with an analytic mind and a sharp eye. It was this sharpness which spotted a wrong replay in IPL4 resulting in Sachin Tendulkar’s dismissal. Some of his analytical pieces have come in for high praise from cerebral former cricketers. Nishad can also be followed on Twitter)