IPL 2021, the fourteenth edition of the Indian Premier League, is set to begin on April 9 and is expected to be another blockbuster season. T20 stars - Indians as well as overseas - are all set to light up the stage at this year's IPL.
Overseas players play an important role in squad construction. Generally, overseas power-hitters, pace-bowling all-rounders, and fast-bowlers are in high demand, as not too many Indian options are available in the market for these roles.
IPL teams are allowed a maximum of eight overseas players in the squad and four in the playing XI. Thus, along with the price factor, teams need to be shrewd as the number of players and spots are limited.
Overseas players also enjoy big financial advantages, especially in mini-auctions. In IPL 2021, Royal Challengers Banglore have spent the highest amount on overseas players while Mumbai Indians, the lowest. MI has an excellent Indian core, and thus, they don't need to spend a lot of money on overseas players.
After RCB, Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals are the next two highest-spending teams. RCB has spent much of their money on AB de Villiers, Kyle Jamieson, and Glenn Maxwell; KKR on Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, and Pat Cummins; and RR on Ben Stokes, Chris Morris, and Jofra Archer.
A huge sum of money can also bring huge responsibility and pressure to perform. The IPL is such a big stage that it is quite hard to live up to the expectations at times. Here, we take a look at five overseas players to watch out for at IPL 2021.
IPL 2021: 5 Overseas players to watch out for
1. Shimron Hetmyer (DC)
Shimron Hetmyer has failed to perform well enough in the IPL and in his T20 career in general. His T20 numbers don't reflect his true potential. In 80 T20 games, Hetmyer averages under 25 and has a strike rate of around 130 with just nine 50+ scores. He is certainly better than what these numbers suggest.
Teams' inability to use him right has been one of the reasons behind his IPL failures. RCB gave the West Indian just five games in the 2019 season, and his role was constantly changed. Delhi Capitals, on the other hand, had him bat at No. 5 or No. 6 in eight out of 11 innings.
Hetmyer's strength is his hitting ability against spinners. For the Guyana Amazon Warriors, the southpaw has done reasonably well in the Caribbean Premier League. The pitches in the CPL assist spinners, and the 24-years-old has displayed his skills back home. Hetmyer has a pretty good batting record in ODIs in Asia too.
Since Shreyas Iyer has been ruled out of IPL 2021, Hetmyer can be promoted to bat at number 3. His role should ideally be to go after the spinners and bat as an aggressor in the middle-overs. Hetmyer isn't bad against the pacers either. However, well-directed high pace might limit him at times.
2. Adam Milne (MI)
Mumbai Indians' squad-building strategy in the pace department is pretty clear. More often than not, MI has two overseas pacers in their playing XI. Besides having arguably the world's best pacer in Jasprit Bumrah, MI has three overseas pacers - Trent Boult, Adam Milne, and Nathan Coulter-Nile - in their squad.
Trent Boult did plenty of damage with the new ball last season, so he is expected to start at IPL 2021 as well. Milne should be preferred over Coulter-Nile as the former is more reliable in the death overs. The right-arm fast-bowler has done quite well for himself in T20 leagues since 2017.
In comparison to Milne, Coulter-Nile was more expensive in the death overs in Big Bash League 2020 as well. While Milne's economy was 8.36, Coulter-Nile leaked runs at 9.30 RPO in the tournament.
Milne's pace can be his X-factor. With Boult and Bumrah operating in the powerplay, Milne can be used as an enforcer in the middle-overs. If Milne is shrewd with his use of variations and nails the hard-length and yorkers well, Mumbai will be in good space in the competition. However, his fitness might be a bit of a problem, and MI should manage him well.
3. Moeen Ali (CSK)
CSK didn't have a good time at IPL 2020, failing to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in IPL history. Their batsmen's low scoring rates was one of the main talking points last season. The CSK batsmen were indeed quite slow, with only RCB batsmen having a lower strike rate than the former.
Apart from the overall low scoring rate, CSK batsmen were slow against spinners in particular. The MS Dhoni-led team had the lowest strike rate against the slow bowlers in the non-death overs (1-16).
CSK addressed this problem in the auction as they recruited Moeen Ali, a fine middle-overs aggressor. The southpaw is an excellent hitter of spin-bowling, unarguably the best in the CSK camp at the moment. Ali's power and bat-swing are his major strengths. His hitting prowess against leg-spinners, left-arm orthodox spinners, and medium-pacers will be quite useful.
Moeen's off-spin bowling can also be useful according to match-ups. CSK has four matches in Delhi, and hence, his role might be greater in those games, given that the pitches assist spinners.
Moeen's efficient usage will yield better returns. CSK, under MS Dhoni, is known to bring the best out of players. Thus, Moeen could be backed to have a good time in IPL 2021.