IPL: Seasoned and big-buck buys who haven’t taken off
Dinesh Karthik and Andre Russell were meant to finish innings while Prithvi Shaw, Mitch Marsh and Mayank Agarwal are openers their teams had expected much from
With eight of the 10 teams having played seven games, we’re almost halfway through the league stage of the 2023 Indian Premier League. It’s been a captivating season studded with many fine individual performances. A seasoned hand like Ajinkya Rahane has taken the tournament by storm while the consistent Virat Kohli features high on the run-getters' list.
However, many big guns are yet to fire. These players are proven performers, tasked with important roles, and went for big bucks at the auction. Somehow, they haven’t provided a single match-winning performance. As the second half of the season approaches, one big concern for the teams would be these established players not having gained confidence.
Here’s a look at some of them (stats updated after match No 34 between SRH and DC):
Dinesh Karthik (RCB): The senior wicketkeeper-batter, 37, was vital for RCB in 2022, scoring 330 runs at an average of 55.00 and strike-rate of 183.33 to be retained for ₹5.5 crore. This year, the designated finisher has had a tough run. With five single-digit scores in seven games, including two ducks, he’s scored just 61 runs. Agreed, Karthik has the unenviable job of hitting boundaries from the first ball and has got to face only 45 deliveries, but RCB need him to shoulder more responsibility to take some of the burden off Kohli, Faf du Plessis and Glenn Maxwell.
Andre Russell (KKR): Like Karthik, the 34-year-old West Indies all-rounder also faces the challenge of going big quickly. At ₹16 crore, Russell is KKR’s most expensive player, and there’s a good reason for that. Having lit up the tournament with powerful shots season after season, he is one of the most feared batters around. But the Jamaican is yet to find his best this year. He got 35 in the opener against PBKS before scoring 21* and 38* versus MI and DC respectively. But KKR lost all those games. In the other four innings, he made single-digit scores. KKR are languishing at eighth in the table and need their superstar to step up.
Prithvi Shaw (DC): A total of 47 runs in six innings with two ducks – it’s been a forgettable season for the 23-year-old opener. Delhi Capitals began their campaign with five losses in a row and a big concern was Shaw’s form – he was dropped for Monday’s game at SRH, which Capitals won. Skipper David Warner has been consistent but DC have been deprived of firepower at the top. Shaw was expected to provide that and received the backing of coach Ricky Ponting, but he has found different ways of getting out, simply not gaining any rhythm. Replaced by Phil Salt as Warner’s opening partner, it remains to be seen if he can return.
Mitchell Marsh (DC): Another key player in the Delhi Capitals squad who hasn’t lived up to expectations this season. The 31-year-old, who was Player-of-the-Match in the final as Australia lifted the 2021 T20 World Cup, missed a couple of early games as he headed home for his wedding. But in the five matches he has played, he has scored just 31 runs with two ducks. With the ball too, he’s taken three wickets in 9.1 overs and hasn’t made any impact. Capitals bid ₹6.5 crore for the all-rounder’s services and will hope he finds form quickly and leads a fightback, though it could be too late to make it to the playoffs.
Mayank Agarwal (SRH): He’s an IPL veteran of 120 matches and was acquired by SRH for ₹8.25 crore. This, despite scoring just 196 runs in 12 innings for Punjab Kings last season. There has been no turnaround with the 2016 champions. The Karnataka batter is having another poor run with the bat. In seven innings, six of them at the top of the order, he has made just 164 runs with three single-digit scores. His top scores – 48 against MI and 49 against DC – weren't in match-winning causes either. SRH have a lot to do after five losses in seven games and need Agarwal, 32, to bring his experience to the fore with big contributions.