The sixth season of the IPL has reached its business end and the big boys are all set to fight it out for the coveted trophy. The likes of Chris Gayle, Shane Watson, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Michael Hussey, and Shikhar Dhawan ruled the roost in the league stages with others putting up their best supporting acts for their respective teams. But, like everything in life, the exciting of the IPL also has a flip side to it.
While it does not take much to recall Gayle's 175* or Raina's 100 and 99*, we all have effortlessly pushed back the memories of a certain Paul Valthaty and Shadab Jakati. Here is Cricketnext's compilation of a playing XI of those who shot to fame and came into the limelight in previous seasons of the IPL but were accommodated as bench-warmers this season.
1. Paul Valthaty: The only notable cricketing credential the 29-year-old had to his name before the IPL was he being part of India's Under-19 World Cup-winning squad in 2002. Originally drafted in by Rajasthan Royals in 2009, Valthaty turned a few heads in 2011 for Kings XI Punjab when he raced to a 63-ball 120 against a formidable Chennai Super Kings. With minimal foot movement and a hit-and-miss ploy, he was looked at as a one-match wonder. Valthaty, though, put up strong shows by hitting a 47-ball 75, 31-ball 46 and taking 4 for 29. Eventually his purple patch came to an end and Valthaty was deemed a one-season wonder. In 2012 he played six games scoring at an average of just five and this year, he got a look in just for one game early in the season and made 6.
2. Aiden Blizzard: The 2011 player auction brought in many hard-hitting David Warner-style Australians in Aaron Finch, Travis Birt, Mathew Wade and Aiden Bilzzard. Of these, Blizzard was the one who got a bit of success playing for Mumbai Indians. In 2011 he played six games scoring at an average of 20 with one fifty and later that year was part of Mumbai's successful Champions League Twenty20 run. In 2012, he played just one game scoring a three-ball zero and with Ricky Ponting drafted in as the captain this year and Dwayne Smith doing his bit as a part-time opener, the doors shut for the Tasmanian opener.
3. Brad Haddin (wk): Viewed as a potential long-term replacement for Adam Gilchrist several years ago, Haddin has never been able to fill the boots of his legendary predecessor even though he has been rated highly as a batsman and a future captain. In 2011, in his only appearance for Kolkata Knight Riders he scored 18 and sat out the entire 2012 season. In 2013 too, he warmed the bench.
4. Baba Aparajith: Along with the likes of Unmukt Chand, Harmeet Singh and Sandeep Sharma, Aparajith was one of the stars of India's U-19 World Cup squad in 2012 and the allrounder proved his mettle in the 2012-13 Ranji Trophy season for Tamil Nadu as well. Though unable find a place in the formidable CSK squad, Aparajith is definitely one to look out for the future.
5. Venugopal Rao: One of the many Ranji stalwarts, Rao has a decent resume with a few ODIs under his belt and was part of the 2002 U-19 World Cup-winning squad. When Indian cricket was trying out youngsters, Rao got his chances but was unable able to channel his strong domestic form into something valuable in the international arena. Playing the first three seasons for Deccan chargers, Rao was a regular in the middle order and hit some lusty blows with his miniature frame. In 2011, he was picked up by Delhi Daredevils and here also Rao showed his gritty side trying to take his team home from losing positions. But by 2012 he found himself on the bench and in 2013 he played one solitary game in which he was not even required to bat.
6. Bharat Chipli: The 30-year-old Karnataka player started off in 2008 playing three games for Royal Challengers Bangalore and after being on the bench for two seasons, got an extended run of 12 straight games for Deccan. With Delhi, Chipli got just one game scoring 16 off 18 balls.
7. James Franklin: A surprising omission after his impressive stint the previous year with Mumbai during which he played 12 games and averaged 24.44 in the middle and took six wickets at 20.16, Franklin was out of favour mainly due to the abundance of foreign players Mumbai had at their disposal. In 2011, he was the most impressive player, winning matches and scoring at an average of over 53 in eight matches.
8. Daniel Vettori (capt): The New Zealand great was one of the most impressive foreign recruits in the IPL and after he handed over the captaincy to Virat Kohli ahead of IPL 6, it was near certain that Vettori would not be seen playing much for RCB. In fact, he had to sit out the whole season despite the ageing Muttiah Muralidharan getting a couple of games ahead of him. What Vettori did do in his ample free time was cultivate a thick beard, before being called to England earlier than planned as New Zealand sent out an SOS for a replacement spinner.
9. Sarabjit Ladda: The 26-year-old Punjab spinner has got very few opportunities to play in the IPL with no noteworthy performances in his eight matches spanning over three years for two teams, Delhi and Kolkata. Ladda got one game against KXIP this year in which he had figures of 2-0-18-1.
10. Shadab Jakati: Jakati, a left-arm spinner who now captains Goa in the Ranji Trophy, was an unknown entity before the IPL and his smart bowling made him a vital cog in the CSK line-up. He was particularly impressive in 2009 where he got back-to-back four-wicket hauls but Jakati fell out of the reckoning in 2012 with the arrival of million-dollar baby Ravindra Jadeja.
11. Sudeep Tyagi A former CSK man, Tyagi burst into the domestic scene with a 10-wicket match haul on debut and finished the season as the highest wicket-taker. Tyagi' rise was fast as after an impressive 2009 IPL, he went on to play four ODIs for India but it did not go according to the plan. Tyagi he failed to find a place in the CSK squad thereafter and in 2013 too he warmed the bench for Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Bench-warmers XI: Paul Valthaty, Aiden Blizzard, Brad Haddin (wk), Baba Aparajith, Venugopal Rao, Bharat Chipli, James Franklin, Daniel Vettori (capt), Sarabjit Ladda, Shadab Jakati, Sudeep Tyagi 12th man: Shrikant Wagh.
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