Chennai Super Kings (CSK) off-spinner Harbhajan Singh announced yesterday that he will miss the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL 2020) due to personal reasons. He took to Twitter to put out a statement, saying:
"Dear Friends, I will not be playing IPL this year due to personal reasons.These are difficult times and I would expect some privacy as I spend time with my family. @ChennaiIPL CSK management has been extremely supportive and I wish them a great IPL. Stay safe and Jai Hind."
Although Harbhajan's decision wasn't entirely unexpected given that he hadn't travelled to the UAE with the rest of the CSK squad for IPL 2020, it still leaves the Men in Yellow at a significant disadvantage.
One of the names that has been making the rounds as a possible replacement for Harbhajan is Indian all-rounder Jalaj Saxena. He went unsold in the IPL 2020 auction at his base price of 30 lakhs, but has always been touted to make a return to the tournament as a replacement.
Here are 3 reasons why CSK could sign Jalaj Saxena as Harbhajan Singh's replacement.
#3 Jalaj Saxena's experience fits the bill for CSK
One of the major reasons behind CSK's success over the years has been their reliance on experience, with Harbhajan himself being a prime example of the same. And Jalaj Saxena, who has been a prominent played in the Indian domestic circuit for quite some time now, fits the bill perfectly.
The 33-year-old has played 123 first-class and 93 List A matches to go along with 54 T20s. Playing for Kerala in the Ranji Trophy, Saxena has taken a mountain of wickets without much recognition. In the absence of a veteran bowler like the Turbanator, he could prove to be a like-for-like replacement.
Jalaj Saxena has also played for India A, and was part of the Delhi Capitals setup before being released ahead of this year's IPL auction. He has the experience of bowling to top-class batsmen as well, despite not having played international cricket yet.
#2 Jalaj Saxena will add all-round value to CSK
From the perspective of all-round value, Jalaj Saxena might even be an upgrade on Harbhajan.
The Indore-born player has scored 6,334 runs in first-class matches, with 32 fifties and 14 hundreds to his name. With an average of 36 and a high score of 194, he has proved on countless occasions that he is more than comfortable with the bat in hand. And earlier this year, he became one of the few all-rounders to have registered over 6,000 runs and over 300 wickets in first-class cricket.
Even in List A cricket, Jalaj Saxena has tallied 1,884 runs with 7 fifties and 3 hundreds. A handy player of spin and a far more reliable batting option than Harbhajan, he could add another dimension to CSK's lower order.
#1 CSK desperately need an off-spinner
Perhaps the most telling reason why Jalaj Saxena is being talked about as a replacement, CSK desperately need an off-spinner.
In Imran Tahir, Karn Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, R Sai Kishore, Piyush Chawla and Mitchell Santner, they have 6 bowlers who turn the ball away from the right-hander. Although Chawla has bowled the googly a fair amount, CSK will still be found wanting against quality left-handed batsmen.
Morever, the departure of vice-captain Suresh Raina has ensured that their only part-time off-spin option at the moment is Kedar Jadhav, who hasn't bowled a single ball in the history of the IPL.
Jalaj Saxena could offer a lot of variety with his off-spin, and could turn out to be a smart recruit should he be called up by CSK to replace Harbhajan.
Published 05 Sep 2020, 15:41 IST