By Jithu Jose Parackal
All-rounders in any form of the game are pivotal to a cricket team. Be it a bowler who can bat a bit or a batsman who can bowl. Players like Shane Watson, Jaques Kallis and Keiron Pollard have shown time and again that they can make or break a game with their expertise in batting and bowling in. Here is a quick snapshot of the top 5 players to watch out for in the 7th season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014
James Faulkner was once, considered a misfit for Australian scheme of things and said he won’t fit in any of the Australian squads. But, purely on the basis of his match-winning perfomances, now he is one of the most highly rated all-rounders in world cricket. Faulkner had a good season last year and he was brilliant with the ball for Rajasthan Royals. Though, Faulkner didn’t make massive contributions with the bat, but in the last 6 months or so, he has developed as a batsman and he is now considered one of the most promising young all-rounders going around. Faulkner is a very intelligent bowler who has many variations up his sleeve, and he was instrumental for the Royals in the last season.
Stuart Binny, son of former Indian player Roger Binny, has been making inroads in the domestic circuit for the past few years. Stuart Binny, rose from his dad’s shadow through his good show in the IPL 2013 and also in the CLT20 2013. Following the footsteps of his dad he has established himself as a quality all-rounder and has created a name for himself. He plays for Karnataka in the Ranji Trophy. Stuart Binny has often been held guilty of not being consistent. The same was evident in his performances in 2013. He has done well as a batsman in the Ranji Trophy. He scored 321 runs at an impressive average of 40.12, but his bowling has been a bit disappointing. In the 6 matches that he played, he picked only 11 wickets at an average of 37.18. In the last season of the IPL, Binny emerged as a hard-hitting batsman who can also chip in with a few overs.
Rishi Dhawan plays for Himachal Pradesh in the Ranji Trophy. In the 2012-13 season Rishi Dhawan became just the third player for Himachal Pradesh to score a century and take 5 wickets in an innings. Dhawan has been mighty impressive for Himachal Pradesh in this year’s Ranji Trophy with his all-round capabilities. Rishi scored 435 runs at an average of 39.54 and took 49 wickets at an impressive average of 20.30. These are really good figures for an all-rounder. He has been the talisman for Himachal Pradesh. He has carried his team for two seasons now. He would do himself a world of good if he can come up with a string of all-round performances if he wants to go ahead with his team India aspirations.
Irfan Pathan made his debut as a fast bowler, but as his career progressed, he tranformed himself into an all-rounder. Irfan’s career has been hit by many injuries and this led to a major dip in his form. Off late, Irfan has been making attempts to cement his place in the team, but he has been inconsistent. With the cricket world cup 2015 around the corner, Irfan will try his best to impress the selectors in this year’s IPL. Irfan Pathan played for the Delhi Daredevils in the last season, and because Daredevils hasn’t retained any of their players, Irfan will be a hot property in this year’s auction. Irfan has the ability to swing the ball both ways and is more than capable of hitting the big ball.
Azhar Mahmood, now an English citizen is a beligerent all-rounder. He is known for his mental toughness and he has an un-ending love towards for the game. He no more plays cricket for Pakistan, but he has become a freelancer who plays various T20 leagues. In the last season of the IPL, Azhar was one of the key members of the Kings XI squad. Azhar is a very experienced player and his consitent perfomances in the last season will attract owners’ attraction.