IPL 2018 is all set to begin in few days. In fact, this year’s IPL has been in news even before the first ball has been bowled as two marquee players in Steve Smith and David Warner were banned from the 2018 edition after the Australians were found guilty of planning to tamper the ball during the tour of South Africa. Two players in Alex Hales of England and Heinrich Klaasen of South Africa replaced Warner and Smith of Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rajasthan Royals respectively.
This edition can also be the last season for few seasoned players who were given a lifeline in IPL 2018 auction. So, which players can be probably playing their last season in IPL?
Harbhajan played for 10 seasons for Mumbai Indians and was the match-winner for his team. However, he was not retained by Mumbai, but was lapped up by Chennai Super Kings. But Harbhajan faces competition for the spinner’s spot in the playing XI with Ravindra Jadeja, Karn Sharma, and Imran Tahir. Jadeja and Tahir may take the two spinner’s spots as they are still in form and have the support of Dhoni and the team management. Harbhajan will get his chance but one failure may see him warming the benches in IPL 2018. Besides, he is no more the wicket-taking bowler he was in the past and is more of a containing bowler. Dhoni would prefer Jadeja over Bhajji anytime. It could be the beginning of the end of Bhajji in IPL.
The New Zealand cricketer’s form has been patchy and inconsistent. He has been playing for various domestic T20 tournaments across the cricketing world and has not hit top form that can redefine his T20 career. He will play for Royal Challengers Bangalore in IPL 2018 and expectations will be high on him. Can McCullum prove himself once again? Besides, at 36, McCullum is not getting any younger. If McCullum fails to perform, it will serve as a death knell for McCullum’s career in IPL.
The West Indian cricketer almost went unsold before he was given a lifeline by Preity Zinta, owner of Kings XI Punjab. Gayle was bought at the third attempt at his base price of Rs 2 crore by Punjab. Gayle would look to prove a point or two, especially against Royal Challengers Bangalore who dumped the West Indian despite scoring in bulk for them in previous seasons. But if Gayle’s bat fails to fire, he might see his contract not being renewed and would see an end to his IPL career.
Although the South African spinner is still a match-winner, age is not by his side. He is 38 years old and may just be playing his last IPL season for Chennai Super Kings. Besides, Tahir’s bowling lacks consistency and that can be a big put off. Tahir had a below-par season in the recently-concluded limited-overs series against India in South Africa. And that can see Tahir starting with few drawbacks as he needs to prove himself time and again in every match in the upcoming IPL season. With young spinners Ravindra Jadeja, Karn Sharma for competition, it will be tough grind for the veteran leg-spinner.