Australian batsman Steven Smith became the latest injury-related withdrawal from the Indian Premier League (IPL), which has seen controversies of all shapes and sizes make an appearance this season. All eight teams have had to struggle with brittle bones and pulled muscles threatening to derail their best laid plans.
So while the franchises wonder what could have been if they had a full squad to pick from, we wonder what could have been if all the players who're out injured got together and formed a team of their own. What do you think? Will our injured XI pose a threat to teams?
Faf du Plessis (Rising Pune Supergiants)
The South African batsman, better known for possessing the meanest defence in world cricket, was perhaps not the most ideal choice for the slam-bang world of T20 cricket. But he started IPL 2016 in fine form, scoring two half-centuries in his first three matches. But as the fortunes of the Rising Pune Supergiants nosedived, du Plessis broke his finger and was forced out of the remainder of the tournament. And things have since then only worsened for the Supergiants, losing both matches where he didn’t play a part and further losing two players to injury.
Lendl Simmons (Mumbai Indians)
This is a curious case. West Indies' Lendl Simmons withdrew from the World T20 in March owing to a back problem. He was seemingly content watching the tournament from his Caribbean home when an injury to Andre Fletcher meant he had to be recalled on emergency basis ahead of the semi-final against India. He duly responded with an unbeaten 82 that single-handedly knocked the hosts out of the tournament. But his new-found fitness lasted all of two more matches, as the recurring back injury played a part in sending Simmons, the highest run-getter for Mumbai Indians in the last edition, back home to the West Indies. Which is where he will be, unless, of course, another injury results in another recall.
Steven Smith (Rising Pune Supergiants)
Steven Smith was looking in such incredible form that an injury literally had to be the only way to stop him from scoring big in every match. His run of form started with a 36-ball-46 in a winning cause against Sunrisers Hyderabad, he followed that up with an exceptional century against Gujarat Lions. On Sunday against Mumbai Indians, he looked set to go even further, and had scored 45 off just 23 balls before getting himself out. That defeat, the Supergiants’ sixth in eight matches, was clearly more than his fragile wrists could handle. A injured wrist ensued that the Australian captain was asked to skip the remainder of the IPL.
Kevin Pietersen (Rising Pune Supergiants)
His was the injury that started the wounded parade for Pune. Ever the trendsetter, Pietersen perhaps foresaw the assembly line of injured Supergiants walking out of the IPL and decided to be the first one out. He had played three matches and scored a highest of 37 when the RPS hosted the Royal Challengers Bangalore. An innocuous looking ball from Kane Richardson was played off his hips and KP went for a quick single. Now the 35-year-old is not as sprightly as he once was and the quick single was clearly more than what his ageing muscles could handle. A calf injury ensued and groans from Pune’s camps are said to have reached England, where Andrew Strauss may or may not have smiled at not having to answer tiresome KP-related questions.
Shaun Marsh (Kings XI Punjab)
The brothers Marsh have always been very close, and while we do enjoy brotherly affection spilling over on to the cricket field, this is perhaps a step too far. Not a day had passed since the younger Marsh pulled out of the IPL citing a side strain that elder brother Shaun followed suit with a back injury. We'd rather leave their respective franchises to deal with the question of how to replace the duo; we can just be happy that they can give each other company (and much needed support for their creaking bodies) on the long flight back to Australia.
Mitchell Marsh (Rising Pune Supergiants)
When the Rising Pune Supergiants played their first match of IPL 2016, the four overseas players in their team were: Kevin Pietersen, Steven Smith, Faf du Plessis and Mitchell Marsh. Today, all four have been ruled out of the tournament with respective injuries. The more cynical among us would have hinted at sinister conspiracies hatched to derail this otherwise unstoppable team. The more philosophical would seek to know how many injuries, withdrawals and replacements does it take before a team ceases to be the same.
John Hastings (Kolkata Knight Riders)
The hulking Australian all-rounder returned with superlative figures of 2.4-1-6-2 in Kolkata Knight Riders’ opening match of IPL 2016 Delhi Daredevils. In his next game, he bowled four wicketless overs and went for 31 runs. Ecstasy one week, agony the next. It was obviously more than what his sensitive body could handle and an ankle injury promptly ended any chances he might have had of playing any further role in the tournament. In fact, we recently got reports that the injury was more serious than originally thought and he could also be ruled out of the West Indies tri-series.
Samuel Badree (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
The World T20 final between England and West Indies is a day Royal Challengers Bangalore fans aren’t likely to forget anytime soon. It was the day Samuel Badree broke the very shoulder on which the hopes of the franchise lay. Their bowling attack, without the West Indian wizard, has been patchy, irregular and erratic. And opposition teams have regularly overhauled their massive targets with consummate ease. They did sign up Tabraiz Shamsi as a replacement, but he hasn’t been able to replace the experience and guile of Badree.
Mitchell Starc (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
The other half of the reason why Royal Challengers Bangalore aren’t able to defend the massive totals their batsmen are piling up. This is the reason RCB is being called the Galacticos of the IPL. Great attacking batsmen, an array of international stars, limited over cricket legends, first innings scores of 200 or thereabouts in almost all the matches. But without Starc and Badree, they are still unable to defend any of these totals. And while Badree hurt his shoulder a week before the IPL was to start, Starc’s ankle gave way several months ago. Way back in December, in fact, while playing against New Zealand. That they still couldn’t arrange for a better replacement reflects badly on the team management.
Joel Paris (Delhi Daredevils)
Are the Delhi Daredevils’ team management big fans of the 1943 classic Casablanca? Did they, when asked if their bowling set-up was a bit short on firepower, quote the eternal line: “We will always have Paris”? Nobody can say this for sure. However, Paris wasn’t always to be there for Delhi. On the eve of the IPL opening ceremony, a stress fracture on Paris’ left shin ruled him out of the tournament. It hasn’t affected the team’s performances though, as led by Zaheer Khan and Chris Morris and the two delightful leg-spinners Amit Mishra and Imran Tahir, they have notched up four wins in six matches.
Lasith Malinga (Mumbai Indians)
Lasith Malinga’s long-suffering body has taken so much punishment over the years that it has clearly decided to stay injured. He has already quit Test cricket a long time ago. He last played an ODI in November 2015. He returned to T20 cricket ahead of the Asia Cup in February and declared his intent to participate in the Asia Cup, the World T20 and the IPL, but after just one match, realised he wouldn’t be able to play either. It has since been reported that he wouldn’t be playing competitive cricket for six more months. He would be over 33 by the time that happens. It could well be that the cricketing world has seen the last of Lasith Malinga in his pomp.
Yuvraj Singh (Sunrisers Hyderabad, 12th man):
Now Yuvi is technically not ruled out of the IPL. He was only said to be out for the first two weeks. But it has been almost a month and we are still nowhere close to knowing how serious the injury is or how far he is from a blockbuster return. Doffing our hat to an incident that’s still shrouded in mystery, we make Yuvraj the honourary 12th man of this all-star XI. In a cruel twist of fate, he could well make a dishonourable exit from this illustrious list in case he does prove his fitness and, ironically enough, appear for the Sunrisers.
Published Date: May 03, 2016 10:44 am | Updated Date: May 03, 2016 10:44 am