T20 cricket was known to be a young man’s game when it first came into being in 2005. The format wasn’t taken seriously by purists. Indian team’s fabulous trio (Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, and Rahul Dravid) didn’t even participate in the inaugural T20I World Cup.
Slowly experience started playing a crucial hand and the likes of Chris Gayle, Imran Tahir aced the format. Fitness though paramount came next to the skill. IPL has also witnessed how the old hands have held their own. But IPL 2022 might be a completely different story. A mega auction and a new team promise exciting action. Teams will be looking to build their squad for the next 3-year cycle. This policy may see the end of many cricketing stalwarts.
StumpsandBails brings to you 3 players for whom IPL 2021 might be their last season:
#3 Imran Tahir
Imran Tahir arguably is one of the finest spinners in the T20I format. He is an IPL veteran. Tahir has 80 wickets in 58 matches to his credit in the IPL. He even won the purple cap for bagging the most number of wickets in IPL 2019. His discipline, variations, and selflessness have earned him many plaudits. But Tahir had found the going quite tough recently. He featured in just 3 games last season and picked up a single wicket. There is a very slim chance of Tahir getting picked in the mega auctions next year.
#2 Harbhajan Singh
Harbhajan Singh was a Mumbai Indians regular up until IPL 2017. He was their frontline spinner for 10 seasons straight. Singh was economical and a wicket-taker as well for MI. His hitting ability lower down the order was priceless. He played a vital role in MI’s championship wins (2013, 2015, and 2017). But Singh was released by MI ahead of IPL 2018 auctions.
The Chennai Super Kings acquired Singh in 2018 and he played a key part for CSK too. CSK too released him after IPL 2020. He was eventually selected by Kolkata Knight Riders for his base price of INR 2 crores. The experienced off-spinner might just find it difficult to find a team next year. This season might well and truly be his last season.
#1 MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni was the most expensive player in the inaugural edition of the IPL. He holds the record for most matches as a captain of a single IPL team. Dhoni is synonymous with CSK. He has been their biggest brand ambassador over the years. Dhoni-led CSK to 3 IPL wins titles in 2010, 2011, and 2018. They had the invincible tag around them.
The aura around CSK dipped a little in IPL 2020. CSK finished 7th in the points table. Captain cool himself had a horrendous season. He scored 200 runs at an average of 25 and a strike rate of 116.27. Dhoni has set high standards, especially in the IPL. Hence his returns seemed even more disappointing. Dhoni has willed himself to play IPL 2021. Whether he will last beyond this season is anybody’s guess. The legend might find it difficult to start next season. This might be his ultimate last hurrah in the IPL.