Indian Premier League 2020 has witnessed many top performers who have not been utilized at their best by their respective franchises. Either these players have been ignored or they are being used out of their natural batting/bowling positions. For all their talent, these cricketers never got enough support from the teams they are representing.
Here we take a look at the top five most under-utilized players in the tournament so far:
Sarfaraz Khan (Kings XI Punjab): Sarfraz Khan used to be a top-order batsman when he was with Royal Challengers Bangalore for four seasons. However, KXIP, who bought the batsman during the IPL 2019 auction for Rs 25 lakh and retained him for the 2020 season, have not been able to properly utilize Sarfaraz as they send him to bat in the lower middle order.
The hard-hitter, who scored 180 runs in 8 games in IPL 2019, has been sent to bat at no.6 or 7 by Punjab in this season and he has scored just 33 runs in five games at a strike rate of 113.79.
Rahul Tripathi (Kolkata Knight Riders): Tripathi, who is a regular opener, was shockingly sent to bat at the No. 8 position by KKR when they were chasing mammoth 229-runs target against Delhi Capitals in the match no.16 of IPL 2020.
Despite coming to bat so late, Rahul impressed everyone with 16-ball 36 which included 3 fours and as many sixes.
Even though KKR lost the game by 18 runs but they did realise their mistake and sent Tripathi to open in the game against Chennai Super Kings, and the 29-year-old batsman didn’t disappoint as he smashed 81 off just 51 balls including 8 fours and 3 sixes, to help his side win the match by 10 runs. He was even named ‘Player of the match’ for his outstanding innings.
However, it is yet to be seen if Kolkata will continue with Tripathi as an opener or will they once again experiment with his batting position.
Andre Russell (Kolkata Knight Riders): KKR have been in confusion over Russel’s batting position for quite a long time now. The franchise have been time and again criticised for sending the Windies all-rounder to bat lower down the order despite the fact that he is one of the biggest hitters in the tournament and can turn the game around with his big-hitting prowess.
Even when Kolkata needed to chase a mammoth 196-run target in the IPL 2020 opener against Mumbai Indians, they sent Russell to bat at no.6 which raised many eyebrows. Many cricket experts including Sunil Gavaskar were baffled by KKR’s tactics and they criticised the franchise for not sending Russel higher up the order.
Notably, Kolkata Knight Riders committed the same mistake in 2019 and that cost them quite a few time last season — not give their best batsmen enough over in a big run-chase.
Abdul Samad (Sunrisers Hyderabad): Samad, who hails from Jammu and Kashmir, recently made his IPL debut for Sunrisers. He is a power-hitter by nature and can hit big runs if sent to bat in upper order.
Interestingly, the 18-year-old made his J&K debut in a T20 against Nagaland in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in the 2018/19 season. He scored a 51-ball 76* as an opener.
However, SRH are yet to find a suitable batting position for Samad as they have sent him to bat at no.5 in his debut game where he smashed 12 off 7 balls including a six and in ther following two games, the franchise sent Abdul to bat at no.7, which is way too down for a batsman of his calibre.
Overall, the explosive batsman has scored 40 runs in three games so far at a strike rate of 181.81, but he can hit much more runs if promoted up the order.
Chris Gayle (Kings XI Punjab): KXIP openers KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal are in top form as they have scored 302 runs and 272 runs respectively in five games so far. However, because of the duo’s form, Punjab have not yet given ‘Universe Boss’ Chris Gayle a chance to play this season.
But one just can’t ignore player like Gayle for too many games as his ability to smash sixes and fours at will is unparalleled.
Moreover, the Windies batsman has registered the highest score by any batsman in the IPL history.
Playing his third season for RCB, Gayle went berserk in the league stage game against Pune Warriors and smashed an unbeaten 175 in 2013. He reached the three-figure mark off just 30 balls and finished at a score of 175 off 66 balls as RCB scored 263/5. He still holds the records of IPL’s highest score and quickest century in T20 cricket.
Also, he has smashed most sixes in IPL. The ‘Universe Boss’ has a total of 326 sixes to his name over his stint with three franchises (KXIP, KKR and RCB) in the IPL. He has taken 124 innings to reach the figure.
If that’s not enough then here’s one more record to his name – Gayle is the only batsman to score over 700 runs in IPL twice. The opener hit a purple patch during his first three years at RCB. He recorded over 700 runs in 2012 and 2013 while in 2011, he had scored 608 runs.
The stats which are mention above are enough to show why Gayle can’t be left on the bench and bringing him back into the team could see him teeing off on bowlers and lengthening the middle order by separating Rahul and Mayank Agarwal.