All-rounders are a huge asset for any cricket team. Yes, specialists have their place but it is the all-rounders who add balance to the line-up. They are highly sought after in franchise T20 tournaments, where teams are always searching for added depth in both batting and bowling.
Even in the mini-auctions for IPL 2021 that took place on 18 February, it was South African all-rounder Chris Morris, who bagged a contract of Rs 16.25 crore from Rajasthan Royals (RR), thereby becoming the most expensive buy in an IPL auction.
Ben Stokes and Hardik Pandya, arguably two of the best all-rounders in the world at the moment, showed what they’re capable of during the recently concluded India-England series and will be some of the other noteworthy all-rounders to keep an eye on.
The list, however, is pretty long as almost every franchise possesses all-rounders, ones that promise to singlehandedly turn a contest on its head.
Here are the top 10 all-rounders to watch out for in IPL 2021:
Arguably the finest all-rounder in the world at the moment, Ben Stokes has been at the heart of some of England’s iconic triumphs – the Ashes win at Headingley and the 2019 World Cup win.
Stokes has made a habit out of turning contests in his side’s favour, the most recent example being the second India-England ODI, where he hammered 99 off 52 balls. In the T20I series against India, he picked up three wickets while averaging 28 with the bat.
One of Stokes’ biggest plus is versatility. His franchise RR has used him in the middle order as well as upfront.
He was a potent bouncer and varies his pace very well. The same was on display as in the Test and limited-overs series against India, where he put the batsman in a spot of bother on many occasions.
Having had a good look at the Indian conditions recently, the all-rounder will once again look to lead by example for RR.
Australia’s batting all-rounder Glenn Maxwell has drawn a lot of attention during the IPL auction over the years. This year was no different. Despite an abysmal IPL 2020, where he averaged 15.42 and picked up only three wickets from 13 matches, he was bought by RCB for a whopping 14.25 crore ahead of the upcoming edition.
Maxwell was in red hot form with the bat against India in the ODI series in 2020. Averaging 83.50, the power hitter amassed 167 runs from three matches with a mind-boggling strike rate of 194.18.
An experienced campaigner in the game’s shortest format, he has played a total of 306 matches, picking up 110 wickets and scoring 667 runs.
Mike Hesson, RCB’s director of cricket, has clearly indicated that he’ll be one of the team’s mainstays. The 32-year-old will be looking to deliver according to his T20I reputation and add the much-needed firepower to RCB’s middle order. While he hasn’t been effective with the ball lately, it’ll be a bonus if he bowls some good overs for the franchise.
A renowned name in franchise T20 leagues around the world, KKR’s Andre Russell is a force to reckon with in this format of the game.
Fully capable of single-handedly powering his team to victory, Dre Russ, as he is popularly called, is a potent attacking all-rounder.
Be it making a mockery of run chases or setting massive totals on the board, the explosive right-hander has done it all. With the ball, he has the ability to clock speeds in excess of 140 along with the experience of operating at the death or upfront.
In the IPL, the Trinidadian has a career average of 29.74 and a mind-boggling strike rate of 182.33. With the ball, he has 61 wickets to his name, his best figures being 4/20. As always, he will be a vital cog in KKR’s wheel.
A clever bowler, power-hitter and gun fielder – Chris Morris is a full T20 package. No wonder RR got him at a hefty price point.
While he could only play nine matches in the previous season for RCB, he played his role to perfection as the leader of RCB’s pace attacking, with 11 wickets and an economy rate of 6.63.
He didn’t get many opportunities with the bat for RCB, but his IPL strike rate of 157.87 and average of 23.95 down the order speaks for itself.
Fitness, however, has been a major concern for Morris and RR will hope that he goes the full distance in IPL 2021. The South African is yet to play a game since the most recent of his injuries, which cut short his participation in the previous season. Lack of match practice could be a drawback for the 33-year-old.
India’s best all-rounder at moment, Hardik Pandya is integral to India’s scheme of things heading into the T20I World Cup.
Hardik, one of MI’s mainstays, has a career average of 29.97 and a lethal strike rate of 159.26. With 42 wickets to his name, the right-arm seamer has provided his side with breakthroughs at some crucial junctures
While he is potent enough to make any T20 XI as a specialist batsman, Mumbai Indians will be delighted that he has been regularly bowling for India after his back surgery.
As far as his current form is concerned, Hardik looked in decent touch during the recently concluded ODI series against India, averaging 28.66 and picking up three wickets.
Nearly as explosive as Hardik, his younger brother, Krunal Pandya has been a huge asset for MI.
The left-hander is fully capable of whacking some lusty bowls as is evident from his career strike rate of 142.45 in the IPL. No wonder he has cemented a place for himself in MI’s middle order, which already has power hitters of the calibre of Kieron Pollard and Hardik.
Besides, the left-arm spinner has 46 IPL wickets to his name. If not among the wickets, he does the job for skipper Rohit Sharma by sneaking in tight overs.
Making his ODI debut during India’s home series against England, he smashed a 26-ball 50, the fastest half century by a debutant in ODIs. High on confidence, the 30-year-old will aim to carry his rich vein of form on to the IPL to keep him in the reckoning for a spot in the Indian limited-overs squad.
Along with Stokes and Sam, Moeen Ali has proven as handy all-rounder for England across formats. He only played three matches for RCB last year and failed to make a noteworthy contribution, with both bat and bowl.
Ali, who has had some valuable match practice after featuring in the India-England Test and T20I series, was bought by CSK for Rs 7 crore for the upcoming edition. Given the hefty price tag, Ali is expected to seen on the field much more than the last year.
The left-hander has played 167 T20s, averaging 24.73 while maintaining an impressive strike rate of 140.18. Besides, the handy off spinner 110 wickets to his name. Knowing that he hasn’t lived up to his potential in the lucrative T20 tournament, Moeen will look to come out all guns blazing.
Curran, just 22, has already shown what he’s capable of. England had lost all their prominent top and middle-order batsman in chase of 330 in the final ODI, and Curran, who came in at No 8, kept the Indian bowlers under the pump, scored a valiant 95*, nearly taking the game away from hosts. He also picked up two wickets, with an economy rate of 6.27 in the game.
Having played in Indian conditions will benefit him and he’ll be match ready right from the word go.
Curran’s left-arm angle which takes the ball away from the right-handers has been a boon for CSK. He has picked up 23 wickets from as many IPL games.
MS Dhoni has effectively utilised him in the past whenever the franchise is looking to up the ante, be it at the top or during the slog overs. Curran, who mostly bats in middle order for CSK, has a very good strike rate of 143.36 and an average of 23.41.
Drafted into the Sunrisers Hyderabad squad as a replacement for the injured Mitchell Marsh in IPL 2020, the 6ft 7 inch all-rounder made the most of his chances. Of the seven matches he played last year, the West Indian picked up 14 wickets, with his best spell (3/25) coming against RCB in a crucial playoff encounter. He was just as effective with the bat, averaging 33 while striking at 123.80.
Holder, an active cricketer for the West Indies across all formats, has the ability to extract extra bounce from the surface, thanks to his tall frame. With the bat, he is someone who plays as per the need of the situation.
While the likes of Kane Williamson, Rashid Khan and Jonny Bairstow could make it tough for skipper David Warner to accommodate Holder among the four overseas players, he is still expected to get a few games due to the balance he lends to the side.
Shakib Al Hasan
The Bangladesh all-rounder represented Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2019 in just three matches before a ban led to his temporary ouster from the game. He has banned by the ICC for two years (one year as the suspended sentence) for breaching ICC’s anti-corruption code.
IPL 2021 will be extremely crucial for Shakib Al Hasan as he will be featuring in a tournament of such repute after a long time. While he did represent his domestic side Gemcon Khulna in the Bangabandhu T20 Cup after the end of his ban in October 2019, he had just six wickets to his name and a meagre average of 12.22 with the bat in nine matches.
Shakib, a part of KKR’s title-winning campaigns in 2012 and 2014, was bought by the franchise for Rs 3.20 crore for the upcoming edition. Russell and Sunil Narine have been KKR’s go-to all rounders for years now and his role might just be restricted to a backup option.
If he does get a few games, however, the 34-year-old will aim to make the most of his experience and prove that he still has enough gas left in the tank.
Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.
Cameos from Faf du Plessis (33 off 17), Dwayne Bravo (20 not out off 8), Ambati Raydu (27 off 17) and Ali (26 off 20) helped CSK post 188 for nine after being put in to bat.
De Villiers smashed 48 off 27 balls after RCB were down in the dumps at 106 for 5. Harshal Patel capped off his dream day by scraping a single off the final delivery to reach the target of 160 in 20 overs.
Check out photos from the first match of IPL 2021 between MI and RCB