Crucial period beckons reinforcements

Significance of foreign players cannot be underestimated in the surge of teams in IPL

Crucial period beckons reinforcements

 Delhi’s Paul Collingwood’s match-winning 46-ball 75 against Bangalore provides a fine example of the worth of foreign players in the IPL. PTI

Whether it is the Royal Challengers Bangalore, the Mumbai Indians or the Delhi Daredevils -- three of the strongest contenders to make it to the semis -- all the three teams owe their current position on the table to strong performances by local players.
However, the role of the foreign component can’t be underestimated. The four foreigners -- the maximum number a team accomadate in the final 11 -- have as much a crucial part to play as that of the Indian players in the progress of their respective teams.

If the South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis, the Orange Cap holder for the highest run-getter, did it for RCB for the better part of the first-half of the tournament, a smattering of good performances for Mumbai from the likes Pollards, Bravos and Malingas have contributed to Mumbai’s awe-inspiring show this season. And the arrival of fresh compliment of foreign recruits, who were either injured or doing duty for their respective national sides, has injected new vigour to some sides and subsequently has brought change in their fortunes.

Brett Lee hasn’t been in the best of forms since his return to Kings XI Punjab after recuperating from an injury, but his country-mate Shaun Marsh -- the highest run-getter in the first edition -- immediately underlined his value with a half-century in the first match he played, albeit in a losing cause. Kevin Pietersen and Cameron White got their first match against Chennai Super Kings in Chennai last week and gave a glimpse of their power-hitting to take the Royal Challengers to a good total. Having stamped his class, Pietersen then went on to play a match-winning knock for the Bangalore side with a 66 off 44 balls against Kings XI Punjab in a high-scoring match.

In fact, it’s been a problem of plenty for the Challengers with the arrival of Kiwi batsman Ross Taylor. Spoilt for choice they even appear to be struggling to get their combination right. Taylor’s presence being very important, the Challengers had to make as many as three changes against Daredevils to accomodate the right-hander, who proved his worth with a 10-ball blinder that included three sixes. That someone like Rahul Dravid has got to bat so little goes onto show their resources. 

With their bowling not in the best of shapes, Super Kings sent an SOS to Doug Bollinger, who had gone unsold in the auction before the IPL-III. The Aussie left-arm seamer made an immediate impact with a miserly spell in an otherwise forgettable day for the bowlers against the Rajasthan Royals. His figures of 4-0-15-2 and a wonderful catch on the boundary line to dismiss the dangerous Yusuf Pathan perhaps were as crucial as Murali Vijay’s blistering ton in Chennai’s win.    

The influence of reinforcements could be seen in the way Daredevils have regrouped to rise to the second position. Paul Collingwood has been a revelation for the Delhi side in the three matches he has played so far. His 45-ball 53 against the Kolkata Knight Riders and a 46-ball 75 against the Challengers on Sunday night made a telling difference in Delhi setting up match-winning targets.

Kiwi paceman Shane Bond, West Indian batsman Chris Gayle and Aussie David Hussey are yet to fire consistently, but their presence has just about helped the Knight Riders keep their heads above water.

With the league stage of the tournament nearing its crucial juncture, the role of reinforcements too will become equally critical.

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