If reports in Australian media are to be believed, Pat Cummins will not return for the second half of IPL 2021. It will be a huge blow for the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) because, after an uneventful IPL 2020, their most expensive signing was finally coming to his own this season.
In 7 matches, Pat Cummins picked 9 scalps for KKR at an average of 26.33 and an impressive strike rate of 17.89. Not only was he a dependable bowling option in the powerplay but also a handful with the bat in the lower-order. The 28-year-old's whirlwind knock of 66* against the Chennai Super Kings will remain one of the most memorable in IPL history.
3 possible replacements for Pat Cummins
Although KKR have a superb option in the shape of Lockie Ferguson in the squad, his availability is uncertain. Moreover, the Kiwi's skill set is quite different to Pat Cummins and he's more of a mid-overs-suited, hit-the-deck speedster.
Without further adieu, let's look at three pacers who can add value to the KKR setup sans Pat Cummins.
#3 Sheldon Cottrell
A brilliant left-arm swing bowler, handy with the bat and a gun fielder - Sheldon Cottrell could provide some much-needed charisma to the KKR lineup.
The Jamaican has played just one season in the IPL - 2020 - where he picked 6 wickets from as many games at a decent average of 29.33 but wasn't considered further. He opens the bowling more often than not for his teams and has immense wicket-taking potential.
Cottrell's Caribbean Premier League (CPL) stats do more justice to his talent. 69 wickets from 50 games at an average of 19.33 and a strike rate of just over 15 is no mean feat.
He can also tonk the ball a long way on his day and also carries a sharp yorker in his armory. Not to forget that a left-arm angle will add some variety to KKR's pace battery if the West Indian replaces Pat Cummins.
#2 Isuru Udana
Like Cottrell, Isuru Udana is also one of the stars of T20 competitions in his country but couldn't perform as well in his first opportunity at the IPL. The 33-year-old all-rounder played 11 games in IPL 2020, picking 8 wickets at 35.25 apiece for the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Overall, the pacer has played 29 T20Is for Sri Lanka and returned 24 wickets at 31.92. RCB had roped Udana last year because of his batting prowess and his T20I strike rate of 144 explains the call. He can provide instrumental support to Andre Russell with the bat while solving KKR's powerplay woes with his adept swing bowling.
Like Cottrell, he too has a beaming yorker and a sharp bouncer. With some clarity on his role and adequate backing, Udana could be the perfect replacement for Pat Cummins.
#1 Sean Abbott
One of the most underrated all-rounders on the international circuit, Sean Abbott attracted no buyers in the IPL 2021 auction even with a base price of INR 50 lakh.
Abbott's numbers in the Big Bash League, however, are nothing short of brilliant. From 80 innings, the right-arm pacer has accounted for 106 wickets at a whopping strike rate of just 14.81. His economy rate of 8.53 is also substantial for a bowler who delivers in both the powerplay and at the death.
Batting-wise, Abbott scored his maiden first-class ton against Tasmania six months ago in a Sheffield Shield game. The brisk, unbeaten knock of 102 off 116 balls featured shots all around the park. He also rocketed his way to a 73 from 75 balls against Victoria, which many termed as his response to going unsold at the auction.
Sean Abbott is the closest KKR can get to a replacement for Pat Cummins. If they utilize him well, Abbott could add a surprise factor to their team considering his limited exposure to most IPL players.