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Indian Premier League 2021

IPL 2021: The superstars who could 'sunset' this year

Some of your favourite players could well be featuring in the IPL for the very last time.

IPL 2021: The superstars who could sunset this year
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Amit Mishra faces stiff competition from youngsters in the Delhi spin department (Source: The Indian Express)

By

Rahul Kargal

Updated: 2021-04-08T15:10:35+05:30

When Chris Gayle steps out to bat in Punjab colours this year, the statistics flashing on the screen will show that he's 41-years of age.

While several stars have shown that age is just a number, the question will undoubtedly be asked - how much longer?

Over the years, the IPL has shown that performances and recent form go a long way in determining IPL contracts.

Thereafter, team dynamics and playing surfaces kick in.

All said and done, the formula that determines a player's IPL fortune are both cryptic and complex.

With that being said, here are a set of players who could well be playing their final IPL season in 2021.

#8 Piyush Chawla

Ever since he played for India U-19 and thereafter castled Sachin Tendulkar with a googly in a Challenger Trophy game, Piyush Chawla has always carried the tag of a leg-spinning prodigy.

Having debuted for India at the tender age of 17, the spinner has been around for a very long time.

Still 32-years of age, he does have age on his side. That said, after a modest IPL 2020 and a rather quiet domestic season this year, a shadow looms large on his IPL career.

In the UAE last year, the spinner featured in seven games for Chennai Super Kings and picked up just six wickets at a rather expensive economy rate of 9.09.

His best was a rather modest 2/33.

Thus, he fell out of favour with the Dhoni-led squad.

Playing for Gujarat in the Vijay Hazare Trophy this year in the lead up to IPL 2020, Chawla did put in a few noteworthy performances – 3/33 Vs Andhra, 3/2 Vs Baroda and 2/32 Vs Goa.

That said, the leggie will have to turn in an outstanding IPL 2021 and a stellar domestic season thereafter to continue demanding an IPL spot.

#7 Robin Uthappa

Rajasthan Royals threw their weight around the former Indian batsman but Uthappa had a forgettable outing in the UAE last year.

196 runs from 12-innings at an average of 16.33 and a failure to make the playoffs were reasons enough for the franchise to trade Uthappa ahead of IPL 2021.

That CSK decided to onboard him came as a surprise to many.

For his part though, Uthappa has made his case by scoring two hundreds and posting two eighty-plus knocks for Kerala in the recent Vijay Hazare Trophy.

All said and done, at 35-years of age, Uthappa knows that performances are all that matter and another poor season this year could well spell doom for his IPL career.

#6 Harbhajan Singh

The veteran off-spinner skipped the entire IPL 2020 for the Chennai Super Kings while citing personal reasons.

In 2019, Harbhajan Singh played 11 games for Chennai and picked up 16-wickets at a creditable economy rate of 7.09.

But that wasn't good enough for Chennai and the former Indian international didn't quite fit into their 2021 plans.

At 40-years of age now, Kolkata Knight Riders have handed Bhajji a lifeline.

Time will tell if Harbhajan Singh will continue playing the game or swap roles and choose to wield the mic instead as a TV pundit.

#5 Chris Gayle

In the seven matches that Gayle played for Punjab in IPL 2020, the 'Universe Boss' posted three half-centuries and amassed 288 runs at an average of 41.14.

Such was the impact of his 137.14 strike rate that Punjab Kings consider the big-hitting southpaw as integral to their 2021 campaign.

That said, one must not forget that Chris Gayle is now 41-years of age.

His contributions to the team are largely restricted to batting and a skipper has to literally hide him in the field owing to his laboured movements.

Performances, fitness and a desire to continue playing the game at the highest level are just some of several factors that will keep Gayle from hanging up his boots at the end of IPL 2021.

#4 Amit Mishra

Turning out for Delhi Capitals in 2020, the veteran leg-spinner got just three games. A return of just three wickets and a best of 2/35 did not garner him more game-time.

The fact that an unheralded Praveen Dubey was handed a debut in the 2020 final against Mumbai Indians is good enough an indicator of where the franchise is headed with leg-spin bowling.

Also, his 38-years of age and bulky frame don't quite make him an agile customer for T20 cricket.

Amit Misra, therefore, despite his Indian credentials and stellar IPL record, could well be playing his final season this year.

#3 Dwayne Bravo

The Trinidadian has been a Chennai Super Kings favourite for several years now.

In IPL 2020, however, Bravo featured in just six matches while returning six wickets at an economy rate 8.57.

Turning out for West Indies in the recent T20I series against the visiting Sri Lankans, the all-rounder didn't quite get going with the bat. But tidy spells of 1/26 and 2/25 from his quota of four-overs in the first and second T20I did show that his bowling prowess is intact.

That said, like several others on this list, Bravo is in his late thirties.

At 37 years of age, the all-rounder knows all too well that he's got to keep putting in the performances game after game should he wish to make a re-appearance in the IPL next year.

#2 Imrah Tahir

The South African leg-spinner didn't feature prominently in Chennai's scheme of things last year.

Picked to play just three games, the spinner picked up just a solitary wicket.

But with the IPL returning to Indian in 2021 and the pitches aiding spin bowling, the leggie could well get more games this time around.

At 42 years of age, Tahir now restricts his game-time to franchise cricket around the globe. With matches few and far between, every tournament becomes a proving ground for the veteran.

#1 Dhoni

It's hard to imagine a Chennai Super Kings and an IPL without the legendary MS Dhoni.

At 39 years of age though, talks about his impending retirement gathers steam with every passing game and year.

In the UAE last year, every time Dhoni crouched over to catch his breath after a quick sprint, critics were quick to essay an epilogue.

For his part though, the former India skipper toiled his way through to 200 runs in the IPL last year at a modest average of 25.

IPL 2021 could well witness Dhoni's swansong.

And if he's able to rally CSK to the title, it will be an end befitting of the legend.

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