The Indian Premier League (IPL) has witnessed the growth of many young Indian cricketers, helping them make a name for themselves and compete with the best in the world. At times, these youngsters have even been picked ahead of the senior established players of the team.
Thus, a few cricketers who have represented India at the international level have not been able to cement their places in the playing XI of their respective IPL teams.
On that note, here's a look at 5 such cricketers who may not be regular starters in IPL 2021:
Piyush Chawla has been a part of the IPL since its first season in 2008. He has tasted considerable success, being the third-highest wicket-taker in the history of the tournament.
Chawla has played 164 IPL matches, picking up 156 wickets at a decent average of 27.33 and an economy rate of 7.78. He is particularly known for his knack of taking wickets in the middle-overs.
The leg-spinner has been acquired by the defending champions, Mumbai Indians, in IPL 2021.
Mumbai Indians already have Rahul Chahar and Krunal Pandya in their squad. Both Chahar and Pandya have formed an integral part of the Mumbai Indians outfit and have contributed to the success of the team over the past two seasons.
It will be difficult for Chawla to make it to the playing XI for the first few games. He is likely to get an opportunity if the team plays on rank turners and the management decides to go in with another specialist spinner.
2. Amit Mishra
Amit Mishra is the highest Indian wicket-taker in IPL history and the only bowler to have picked up 3 hat-tricks in the tournament. The 38-year-old leg-spinner has 160 IPL wickets to his name. He has an impressive average of 24.17 with the ball in 150 IPL games.
However, the presence of Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel in the Delhi Capitals squad may lead to Mishra's ouster from the playing XI.
Ashwin will be the lead spinner and is expected to play in every game for the Delhi-based franchise, while Axar Patel is likely to play as his second in the team. However, Patel is likely to miss the first few games of IPL 2021 as he has tested positive for COVID-19. Mishra can fill in in his absence but will find it difficult to start once Patel is declared fit to go.
3. Kuldeep Yadav
Kuldeep Yadav used to be an integral part of the Indian ODI and T20l team. But his performances have been on a downward spiral since his best season in 2018.
He has had an indifferent last couple of seasons in the IPL as well. In 2019, he was able to pick up only 4 wickets from 9 matches at an average of 71.50 and an economy rate of 8.67. He wasn't effective in 2020 either; he played 12 overs in five matches and picked up a solitary wicket at an average of 92.
Kuldeep's poor returns led to him being left out of the KKR playing XI. Subsequently, he lost his place in the Indian ODI and T20I teams as well.
Kolkata Knight Riders have Varun Chakravarthy in their ranks who is expected to be their lead spinner in IPL 2021. Sunil Narine will play a vital role in the power-play overs too. Harbhajan Singh has been acquired by the team in IPL 2021 and is likely to feature in a few games.
It will be difficult for Kuldeep to get into the playing XI - not only because of his recent form, but also the competition within his team in the spin-bowling department.
4. Cheteshwar Pujara
Cheteshwar Pujara last played an IPL game in 2014. In his 22 IPL innings, he scored 390 runs at an average of 20.53 and a strike rate of 99.74.
It has been 7 years since then, and Pujara still receives criticism for his over-defensive approach. Nevertheless, he will represent Chennai Super Kings in IPL 2021.
Pujara recently scored a century for Saurashtra in the 2019 edition of the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy.
It will be difficult for Pujara to make it to the playing XI for at least the first few games considering the star-studded batting lineup of CSK. As the tournament proceeds, he will be hopeful of getting a few chances to make an impression in the shortest format of the game.
5. Ajinkya Rahane
The Indian vice-captain in Test cricket did not taste much success in IPL 2020. He scored 113 runs in 8 innings at a dismal average of 14.13 and a strike-rate of 105.61.
Delhi Capitals have an explosive top-order comprising Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Rishabh Pant, Steve Smith, and Shimron Hetmyer. It will be difficult for Rahane to make it to the playing XI of the team, given that the above-mentioned players are all better strikers than him in T20 cricket.
Rahane could get an opportunity in the playing XI if either of the openers, i.e. Shikhar Dhawan or Prithvi Shaw, gets injured during IPL 2021. Unless that happens, his inclusion appears extremely unlikely.