Overseas players form a key part of all franchises in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Over the years, they have formed a key part of the franchises, and it is hard to imagine how IPL could have been without them. It was Brendon McCullum who kick started the IPL with a magnificent 158 in the first game and who can forget the 175 runs Chris Gayle scored in a game against Pune Warriors.
Each franchise can have a maximum of 8 overseas players in their squad and 4 in the starting XI. Generally, a couple of the overseas players, who are benched, are inexperienced and young and as a result, remain benched throughout the tournament. Overseas players like Ben Dwarshuis, Cameron Delport and Adam Milne warmed the benches throughout the season.
This season as well, there are quite a few overseas players who might not feature in a single game due to various reasons such as, inexperience or maybe because of the availability of better options.
In this article, we shall have a look at an overseas player from each team who might not play a single game.
Note: Rajasthan Royals will lose 4 of their first choice overseas players because of World Cup commitments. Hence, they will be forced to use the other 4 and as such, everyone will play some games. Hence, RR has been excluded.
#1 Chennai Super Kings - David Willey
The England all-rounder is one of the most complete cricketers in the T20 format. He has the ability to open with both bat and ball. He can also don the role of a finisher while batting and is good with ball in the middle overs. He is also a great fielder so, it is confusing as to why he might miss a few games.
Last season, he played just 3 games, out of which 2 games turned out to be total disasters. 3 of CSK's 4 overseas players are almost fixed -- Shane Watson, Dwayne Bravo and Lungi Ngidi. There will be rotation for the 4th overseas slot, but it will be very difficult for Willey to manage a game. Everything that Willey offers to a team is already offered to the team by the aforementioned 3.
Furthermore, he will leave the team half-way through, making it even more difficult for the highly talented player.
#2 Delhi Capitals - Sherfane Rutherford
Sherfane Rutherford has emerged as another power hitter from West Indies. The 20-year-old had a breakout season in the Caribbean Premier League last year and had a strike rate of 142. He also had a great outing in the T10 league, where he had a phenomenal strike rate of 211.45. He also struck 19 sixes in 8 games.
Despite all this, it will be quite difficult for the youngster to manage a few games because of the presence of seasoned overseas pros like Colin Munro and Colin Ingram. It will be very difficult for him to move ahead of them in the pecking order.
Keemo Paul is another player in the Capitals' squad who could go game less. He might be able to squeeze in a game or two if they opt to swap Rabada with him, after the former leaves. However, such a scenario is highly unlikely
#3 Kings XI Punjab - Hardus Viljoen
The South African speedster will take part in the IPL for the very first time in his career. He has been in scintillating form in the recent past and even won the Player of the Series award in the T10 league. He picked up 18 wickets in the tournament and played a key role in the Warriors' triumph.
He played 2 games in the BPL and picked up 4 wickets, while he has 1 wicket in the PSL after bowling 5 overs. He is good at the death overs and is like a copy of first choice bowler, Andrew Tye. It is nearly impossible for Tye to make the World Cup squad and hence, will be available for the whole tournament.
Furthermore, it is highly unlikely Kings XI will try and accommodate both the bowlers in the same team. They also have Sam Curran, who is ahead of Viljoen in the pecking order.
#4 Kolkata Knight Riders - Anrich Nortje
Anrich Nortje is one of the many fast bowling talents to have emerged out of South Africa over the last couple of years. He has the ability to bowl at speeds touching the 150kph and is excellent with the new ball. He was mightily impressive in the Mzansi Super League, where he picked up 8 wickets in just 3 games.
Recently, he even made his South Africa debut in the ODI series against Sri Lanka, where he dismissed 3 batsmen in 2 games. Those performances have further strengthened his chances of making it to the World Cup, something that would shorten his stay in India.
More experienced overseas fast bowlers such as Harry Gurney and Lockie Ferguson are themselves unsure of a starting spot in the XI, making it even more difficult for a rookie. Furthermore, the pace he provides the team with can also be provided with Ferguson, who has prior experience of playing in India.
#5 Mumbai Indians - Adam Milne
Adam Milne was hired by Mumbai Indians as a replacement for the injured Pat Cummins last season. He wasn't given a single opportunity to prove himself and remained on the bench. This was when they had 3 overseas fast bowlers in their squad, including him. This season, they have 3 overseas quicks in the squad excluding him, which makes it even more difficult.
He has just recovered from a 3-month long injury and will be rusty. He can crank it up and bowl at speeds exceeding 145kph. However, he has shown the tendency to leak runs at the death, a factor which could work against him.
They also have a pace-bowling all-rounder in their ranks in the form of Ben Cutting. At the moment, it looks very difficult for Milne to play a game and only if luck favors him, can he play a couple of games.
#6 Royal Challengers Bangalore - Heinrich Klaasen
Heinrich Klaasen burst onto the scene while playing for South Africa against India last year. He impressed everyone with his attacking instincts and ability to play spin. As a result of his performances, he was picked up by Rajasthan Royals as a replacement for Steve Smith. He hardly received any opportunities and played just a couple of games.
He has been in rather poor form over the last 2-3 months and hence, it did surprise a few when he was picked up by Royal Challengers Bangalore. Due to his poor form, the likes of Marcus Stoinis, Moeen Ali and Shimron Hetmyer will be ahead of him in order.
The only way he can get into the playing XI is when first-choice keeper, Parthiv Patel injures him or goes woefully out of form. Moreover, he still stands a chance to get into the South African squad for the World Cup as a reserve wicket keeper so, he could leave mid-way.
#7 Sunrisers Hyderabad - Billy Stanlake
He is the most unlikely of all those present in the list to go the whole season without a game. The tall and lanky fast bowler was quite impressive for the Orange Army last season, but his season was cut short due to an injury. This season SRH are likely to go in with an overseas combination of Warner, Williamson, Rashid Khan and Bairstow/Shakib for the first half of the season.
For the second half, they are likely to go in with a combination of Guptill, Williamson, Rashid and Nabi. It is impossible for them to remove Guptill as that would weaken them at the top. Rashid and Williamson will definitely be played in every single game. This leaves us with Nabi, who should get the preference as he is a very good middle-order batsman and can ball economical overs.
While Stanlake may or may not go game less throughout the season, it doesn't look like he will get more than a couple of games. However, the SRH management has always surprised us, and we never know what can happen.