Former Australian cricket team captain Steve Smith would have wanted to set the bar high in the ongoing Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) 2019. Smith played just two matches for Comilla Victorians, before an elbow injury sent him back to Australia. A surgery on Tuesday, will now see the 29-year-old wear braces for up to six weeks, followed by intense rehab process.
The injury has put a cloud on Smith regarding his participation in the upcoming season of the Indian Premier League (IPL). And not only that, his return to the Aussie side could also see a delay. Not long ago Cricket Australia had suggested that Smith needs to score in these T20 leagues to enhance his chances of featuring in the World Cup in England and Wales.
Smith, who is eyeing to script a comeback to the national team, sees his 12-month ban from international and state cricket come to an end on March 28. He was banned with vice-captain David Warner and batsman Cameron Bancroft for his part in the Newlands ball-tampering scandal.
Smith’s franchise Rajasthan Royals, would have wanted to see the player have an impact in the IPL 2019 season, but it looks like they will miss out on him. Smith did not feature in IPL 11 as well due to the ban imposed by BCCI, who followed the sanction of CA.
The absence of Smith sees RR a bit depleted in the batting. There is a void in that middle order and reports state that the franchise is looking for options to replace Smith.
Here we analyse the probable players that can come in place of the Australian cricketer.
Jimmy Neesham – New Zealand
The hard-hitting Kiwi all-rounder is in some deadly form at the moment. Neesham showed his brilliance in the ODI series against Sri Lanka, where he amassed a 13-ball 47 and then a 37-ball 64. His big-hitting skills made the difference for New Zealand, who got those extra 15-20 runs to get to big scores.
A distinctive player, Neesham has featured in 90 career T20s. The 28-year-old has 1,369 runs and has got 89 wickets to show his character. Neesham can chip in with a couple of overs and his death-bowling skills are well known. The pitches in India could suit his style of play.
Hazratullah Zazai – Afghanistan
Afghanistan’s promising player Hazratullah Zazai is a sound middle order batsman. He is just 20 years of age. The youngster is someone who could have been a sound future investment. Zazai has scored 852 runs in 24 T20 matches. That is quite a decent record.
He has already smashed a hundred and six fifties in this period. The player is also familiar with subcontinent pitches and is strong with his big-hitting abilities. He could be a decent signing and can allow the Royals to get impetus in the middle overs.
Notably, the powerful player was ignored during the 2019 auction. His base price of Rs 50 lakh could tempt RR in going for someone with a strong mindset. The Afghanistan star recently became only the third batsman to hit six sixes in an over in a T20 match. He achieved that in the Afghanistan Premier League.
An excellent fielder, Zazai has a bright future in store.
After being released by Royal Challengers Bangalore, former New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum had set his base price at Rs 2 crore. And surprisingly, the veteran star didn’t attract any bids. McCullum had been a household name every single season up till now. But this time things went the other way.
In earlier editions, he was one of the top buys across several franchises and he kit up proceedings quite often with his range of shots. McCullum, who has played 363 T20 matches, has gone on to amass 9,825 runs in the format. He had also helped Trinbago Knight Riders defend the 2018 CPL.
He is currently playing in the Big Bash league (BBL) for Brisbane Heat. After a quiet start to the T20 league, he has gone on to smash three successive fifties. It is a timely reminder from Baz to show that he still has it in him to give teams maximum impact. He can open the batting with Jos Buttler for RR.
Hashim Amla – South Africa
South Africa’s Hashim Amla had a terrific season in IPL 10. He represented the Kings XI Punjab and stole the show for the outfit. Amla had amassed 420 runs the side in just 10 matches and also hit two impressive centuries to show his influence at the top. The player was surprisingly ignored in IPL 2018 and 2019 auctions.
Amla’s experience means that he could be a decent choice for the Royals. He can come in at number three and also bat atop for them. Amla wasn’t in the best of form in 2018, but he has come back to his self and scored impressively for South Africa against Pakistan in the recently concluded Test series.
Amla will be looking to have a say in the upcoming ODIs against Pakistan. If he scores some valuable runs here, then that could brighten up his chances.
Mushfiqur Rahim – Bangladesh
Bangladesh senior wicket-keeper batsman Mushfiqur Rahim was surprisingly ignored in the IPL 2019 auction, last month. The player is one of the celebrated names in modern day cricket, who bears experience across all three formats and is a mainstay of the Bangladeshi side.
The senior cricketer has a base price of Rs 50 lakh and adds definite solidity in the middle order. He could aid the Royals by his match-winning skills and calm composure. He is currently plying his trade in the BPL 2019 season.
Rahim scored a cracking 75 recently against the Victorians in the T20 league. The Bangladeshi has scored over 3,000 T20 runs which includes 17 fifties. This shows that he is sync with the format and doesn’t need time to settle down in the IPL.
Reeza Hendricks – South Africa
Reeza Hendricks is perhaps the hottest property in this list of players that can replace Smith. Like all the players mentioned above, Hendricks is another player that will be available for the entire IPL 12 season.
Hendricks has played 101 career T20s and has bagged a total of 2,808 runs.A healthy average of 38.46 proves his attributes as a fine T2o asset.
The player was in top gear for the
in the Mzansi Super League. Hendricks smashed two hundreds for his side in a stupendous 412-run campaign. He featured in 10 games and his impressive strike rate of 142.56 stood out.
Hendricks can open the innings, which in turn can allow Ajinkya Rahane to bat in the middle order or at the number three position. Hendricks is a force to reckon with at the moment and could be an ideal replacement for the Aussie Smith.