Indian Premier League: A lifeline for some Proteas

  • The Indian Premier League confirmed the 2020 tournament will finally start in the United Arab Emirates in September.
  • 10 South Africans are scheduled to take part in this year’s tournament.
  • Sport24 looks at how these players are shaping up and the importance of this tournament in their careers.

On Sunday, the Indian Premier League (IPL) confirmed the tournament will commence from 19 September in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

This year’s tournament will be staged over 53 days – three days longer than last season – with the final taking place on 10 November.

Ten South Africans will be taking part, however, there is doubt over whether they will play in the tournament’s early stages.

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on the cricketing calendar both nationally and internationally and only four of the 10 players have played any cricket recently thanks to the Solidarity Cup.

Sport24 takes a closer look at the South African players involved in the 2020 IPL.

Chris Morris – Royal Challengers Bangalore

At the 2020 auction, Morris was snapped up for a staggering 10 crore (R20 million) by the Royal Challengers Bangalore. 

He is currently one of the top-performing all-rounders in the shortest format of the game. However, one might be concerned that the 33-year-old hasn’t played a competitive game of cricket since February 2020.

Morris, who has played four Tests, 42 ODIs and 23 T20s for South Africa, has fallen out of favour and last appeared for the Proteas at last year’s Cricket World Cup in England.

At last month’s Solidarity Cup, he swapped his bat for a microphone as he commentated for SuperSport at the inaugural 3TC event.

September’s IPL will be the perfect opportunity for Morris to put his name in the Proteas selection hat for next year’s rescheduled T20 World Cup in Australia

AB de Villiers – Royal Challengers Bangalore

Just like Morris, all eyes will be on the potential return of De Villiers. It’s no secret that Cricket South Africa are eager to have him back in the Proteas change room and his performance in the UAE will be closely monitored.

De Villiers, who retired from international duty in 2018, has controversially tried on two occasions to come out of retirement (before the 2019 ODI World Cup and this year’s postponed T20 World Cup).

Since 2011, the 36-year-old has been one of the stars for Royal Challengers Bangalore and formed a formidable partnership with captain Virat Kohli. If De Villiers can continue his string of impressive performances in the T20 format, Proteas coach Mark Boucher won’t have much choice but to bring the star batsman back into the international fold.

De Villiers smashed 61 off 24 balls for the 3TC Eagles at SuperSport Park last month.

Kagiso Rabada – Delhi Capitals

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Rabada’s workload had been a worry for the Proteas, especially after their main strike bowler only took just six wickets in their disastrous World Cup campaign in England.

Now Rabada has had time to heal, reflect and get back to what he does best and that’s taking wickets. The 25-year-old was set to captain the Kingfishers at last month’s Solidarity Cup but withdrew due to personal reasons. 

Rabada, who was retained at the Delhi Capitals, will be hoping to replicate last year’s stunning performance when he finished as the second-highest wicket-taker after claiming 25 scalps in 12 games.

Faf du Plessis – Chennai Super Kings

Since relinquishing his Test and ODI captaincy, Du Plessis has made it clear this year’s postponed T20 World Cup would be his last. However, with the tournament moved to 2021, there is still some doubt whether he still harbours hopes for that swansong in cricket’s shortest format. 

Last year, Du Plessis had a blistering IPL campaign with the bat as he scored 396 runs in 12 games for the Super Kings. 

The 36-year-old has the opportunity to prove to Proteas selectors that he is still good enough to feature in the T20 World Cup squad in 2021.

Imran Tahir – Chennai Super Kings

Tahir is regarded as arguably one of the best T20 bowlers in the world and his record speaks for itself. Although he is now 41, he is still in the best form of his life.

The Proteas leg-spinner has retired from ODI cricket but has made it clear that he will still be available for the Proteas in T20 cricket.

Playing for the Chennai Super Kings, Tahir ended last year’s IPL as the highest wicket-taker with 26 scalps from 17 matches. There’s no denying that he is a superstar but can he still be the Proteas’ best option come next year?

It’s a question that could be answered at this year’s IPL.

Quinton de Kock – Mumbai Indians

It’s a given that De Kock’s name will be the first on the team sheet at next year’s T20 World Cup.

Earlier this year, he took over from Du Plessis as the Proteas’ new ODI and T20 skipper, a position that he has taken on with great maturity. However, there’s concern that the added responsibility could be too much for the 27-year-old. 

Since appearing on the international stage in 2013, De Kock has been an important part of the Proteas’ success. 

Dale Steyn – Royal Challengers Bangalore

He is one of the best fast bowlers South Africa has ever produced but at 37, Steyn is in the twilight of his career.

After finally getting over various injuries, he returned earlier this year with promising performances for the Proteas.

He insists he wants to try and extend his career for as long as possible, which saw him retire from Test cricket but remain available for the two limited-over formats.

Steyn’s performance for Bangalore at the IPL is key as he will be hoping to redeem himself after being ruled out of last year’s World Cup in England. If he does deliver some magic with the ball, there’s a chance that he may book his ticket to Australia next year.

Lungi Ngidi – Chennai Super Kings

South Africans will be delighted to hear that Ngidi is back and injury-free (touch wood). 

A hamstring strain ruled him out of the England Test series over the festive season and he returned against Australia. In his final ODI match for the Proteas before the coronavirus pandemic, Ngidi became the fastest South African to reach 50 wickets in ODI cricket. And at just 24 years old.

There’s no debate, Ngidi is a talent and it’s why he was retained by the Chennai Super Kings. For him to get back to his best, he needs more game time, which has been the issue this year with the cricketing calendar in disarray.

David Miller – Rajasthan Royals

There was a lot of expectation from Miller when he burst onto the scene in 2010 and although the 31-year-old has played 132 ODIs and 78 T20s, his numbers aren’t as consistent as he’d like them to be.

South African fans should be hopeful for his appearance in the UAE as the IPL has always brought out the best in him. In 2013 and 2014, Miller thrived at the Kings XI Punjab, forming a hard-hitting partnership with Australia’s Glenn Maxwell.  

While Miller won’t be in the familiar Punjab setting this season – he will be with former IPL champions Rajasthan Royals – it could see him finally loosening up and living up to his undoubted batting prowess.

Hardus Viljoen – Kings XI Punjab

Viljoen, who was bought for R1.8 million by the Kings XI Punjab, made his IPL debut last year for the Kings and took seven wickets in six games. 

The fast bowler is seen as a lost talent for the Proteas after he signed a Kolpak deal with Derbyshire in 2016 – the same year he made his Test debut for the Proteas. However, the 31-year-old is now Kolpak-free and has returned to South Africa to play his franchise cricket for the Titans.

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