We are about a fortnight away from the start of the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). However, there are a few players who’ve been pulling out of the competition.
After Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh becomes the second Chennai Super Kings (CSK) player to opt out due to ‘personal reasons’. He did not travel to the UAE with the rest of the CSK team and support staff on the 21st of August.
It was reported that the veteran off-spinner from Punjab would fly on the 1st of September. However, that was postponed again before he informed the team management that he will be unavailable for the upcoming season.
Also Read: Chennai Super Kings (CSK) Squad for IPL 2020: CSK Team Analysis, Probable Playing XI and full list of players
Now, CSK will be without two of their most experienced players. There is no doubt they have some good depth in their squad and seem to have all bases covered. But they will likely be out on the hunt for a replacement. Thus, here are five possible replacements for Harbhajan Singh.
Shams Mulani is not a very renowned name in the Indian domestic cricketing circuit. He made his debut for Mumbai in all three formats in 2018. He has played more white-ball games than red-ball – 10 first-class games compared to 24 List ‘A’ and 22 T20 matches. Moreover, it’s only been a couple of seasons since he’s been around. However, Mulani seems to be climbing up the ranks pretty quickly.
The 23-year-old had an excellent 2019-20 season for Mumbai where he produced performances in all three formats. Be it the Ranji Trophy, Syed Mushtaq Ali or the Vijay Hazare Trophy, Mulani was one of the finds of the season for Mumbai.
In 2019-20, in the 50-over format, Mulani took 12 wickets going at about 5.06 an over. He returned with 11 wickets with an economy of 6.64 in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy before wrapping the season with 26 scalps in the Ranji Trophy to go with his 514 runs.
Mulani is a left-arm orthodox spinner and a handy lower-order left-hand batsman. Thus, he could be an apt replacement for Harbhajan.
Last year, when Sudhesan Midhun’s name was announced in the starting XI of the Rajasthan Royals, most people were perplexed. There was barely anybody who knew who this lad was. In fact, there was hardly anyone who noticed that Rajasthan Royals (RR) had bought him in the 2018 auctions. However, Midhun’s dream lasted just one game as he was ousted from the team after that one game against Kolkata Knight Riders.
However, Midhun has been impressive in the domestic circuit. The Kerala leg-spinner featured in a handful of games in the 2019-20 domestic season in India and did well. He took six wickets in five Syed Mushtaq Ali games and had an economy of nine. He played just one List ‘A’ game in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and bowled beautifully, returning with figures of 10 overs, 3 maidens and two wickets for 15 runs.
However, he was released by Rajasthan Royals (RR) ahead of the auction for this season and went unsold. CSK might look at this young leg-spinner and might as well invest in him.
Here is another cricketer from Kerala or rather who plays for Kerala. It’s been nearly 15 years since Jalaj Saxena made his first-class debut. He is one of the big names in the Indian domestic circles. He made his debut with Madhya Pradesh before Saxena moved to Kerala ahead of the 2016-17 season.
And he has been consistently delivering the goods over the last few years but hasn’t got an India call-up. Hell, he has never played in the IPL either. Saxena has been a part of a couple of IPL sides like Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Delhi Capitals (DC) but he has never been able to break into the XI. The Indore-born all-rounder has constantly been unsold.
However, Harbhajan missing the IPL this time around might just turn to be a blessing in disguise for Saxena. He might go on to replace the Punjab veteran. Saxena has been bowling well and has a decent T20 record. Moreover, he one of the rare off-spinners present in the unsold pool at the moment.
Looking at a batsman’s name might surprise a few people. However, with Suresh Raina’s availability also uncertain and him flying back to India due to personal reasons might prompt CSK to look at a few batters as well as far as replacement options are concerned. And Rohan Kadam could be a serious contender if CSK are looking at batsmen.
Kadam may have made his List ‘A’ or professional debut for Karnataka back in 2017. However, it wasn’t before last year that he got a lot more chances. The left-handed Karnataka batsman has been very impressive in the shortest format. He has played 20 T20s across two Syed Mushtaq Ali tournaments and has amassed 794 runs. He averages 49.62 and has a strike-rate of 130.37.
What’s more, is that he can bat anywhere in the order. He is a top-order batsman but he can adapt in the middle-order too, as he did in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy last season where he scored 258 runs (three fifties in seven innings). Thus, he could be a decent replacement.
M Shahrukh Khan
M Shahrukh Khan is another batting choice CSK might look at. He has been around for a few years now but has been getting regular chances in the Tamil Nadu side only from the last couple of seasons. He has been pretty consistent in the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL).
In the 2019-20 season, Shahrukh Khan started off with a bang where he scored 244 runs at an average of 48.00 and a strike-rate of 125.77 in the Vijay Hazare Trophy for Tamil Nadu. However, his form tapered off as the season progressed and he couldn’t deliver in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
But he has shown that he can be a reliable finisher and can perform under pressure. He constantly guided Tamil Nadu in tense chases or tense situations in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. Therefore, Shahrukh Khan can be a handy replacement.