The success of the Indian cricket team in the ICC World T20 in 2007 laid a big foundation for a huge craze among Indians. This paved way for the city-based franchise style league in the form of Indian Premier League much like English Premier League for Football.
But a big difference from IPL and EPL was the window that both tournaments have in a calendar year. While the franchise-based leagues dominate football, cricket is a sport that revolves around international fixtures. But the popularity of the format, the experience of playing under different conditions and the monetary value made this league a huge success.
Players were signed by franchises much like the football leagues all around the world. But just as mentioned, the national commitments and injuries forced players to withdraw from the league and midway replacements were signed by the franchises with some of them changing the fortunes of the teams.
Let's look at top seven replacement signings that worked wonders.
#7 Hashim Amla replaced Shaun Marsh (Kings XI Punjab, 2016)
Since the inception of IPL, Kings XI Punjab has performed moderately in every season. Despite the presence of experienced players like Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardena and, Adam Gilchrist in their ranks they failed to qualify for the knock-outs in most of the seasons.
Post-2014 their fortunes dipped further, as they finished at the bottom of the table in the next two seasons. As they had nothing to lose, they recruited Hashim Amla in place of injured Shaun Marsh in 2016. He helped them restore some pride as they won a few matches at the end of the season.
2017 saw a new version of Amla, as he led the batting for Punjab. He scored 420 runs in 10 matches which included two centuries. They narrowly missed out on a playoff spot as they were bowled out for a mere 78 in a virtual quarterfinal. They missed Amla as he had left the tournament due to national commitments.
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#6 Imran Tahir replaced Mitchell Marsh (Rising Pune Supergiant, 2017)
Rising Pune Supergiant had a forgettable season in 2016 as they lost many overseas players to injury. 2017 was no different as Mitchell Marsh was ruled out before the start of the season. Leg spinner Imran Tahir was brought in as a replacement despite having Adam Zampa who did exceedingly well in 2016.
The move paid rich dividends for the Pune team as the South African picked up wickets regularly in the middle overs. He bowled match-defining spells throughout the season, with his battle against his countryman AB de Villiers was one of the highlights.
He was the team's best bowler in six of the 12 matches he played as Pune finished second place in the points table. He picked up 18 wickets in the season which was the most by any spinner in the season.
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#5 Washington Sundar replaced Ravichandran Ashwin (Rising Pune Supergiant, 2017)
Although Tahir was controlling the middle overs, Pune kept losing as they leaked runs heavily in the powerplay. In the first four matches, the average powerplay score against them was 60. They missed the services of Ravichandran Ashwin due to injury who used to bowl well in powerplays.
Indian U-19 player Washington Sundar was named as a replacement for his statemate. Just like Ashwin, Sundar started as an opener but soon became an off-spinner. He produced a similar impact as he bowled with great control in the powerplay. His addition to the team helped Pune to control the powerplay overs as he ended the tournament with an economy rate of 6.16.
His notable performance came in the first qualifier as he rattled the Mumbai Indians with a spell of 3/16 with heavy dew at the ground. He picked up Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu and Kieron Pollard within a space of 12 balls and helped his team qualify for their first ever final.
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#4 Dwayne Smith replaced Mitchell Johnson (Mumbai Indians, 2012)
Mumbai Indians was the perennial underachievers in the first five years of IPL. Despite boasting many big International players, they failed to win titles as their players got injured more frequently. 2012 was no different as Mitchell Johnson was the casualty.
West Indian Dwayne Smith was named as a late replacement. He produced a match-winning innings in his first ever match scoring 14 off last three balls to guide his team to victory against arch-rivals Chennai Super Kings. The victory seemed impossible as they slumped from being 134/1 to 159/9 but he was calm to take his team to a nerve-wracking finish.
He then formed a successful opening partnership with Sachin Tendulkar for Mumbai Indians. It continued till 2013, as he played a key role in their first IPL triumph scoring 418 runs with four fifties. He capped off the season with a Man of the Series performance for MI in the 2013 Champions League T20 and helped win their second title.
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#3 Lendl Simmons replaced Jalaj Saxena (Mumbai Indians, 2014)
Mumbai Indians had a horrible start to the 2014 season as they lost first five matches of the season. In order to change their fortunes, Mumbai roped in the services of Lendl Simmons in place of Jalaj Saxena. He was asked to open the batting as their top order failed miserably.
Simmons mixed caution with aggression and gave good starts for the franchise. His century against Kings XI Punjab was evident to his domination as he scored 100 in a chase of 158. He was their only bright spot of the season, as he top-scored for Mumbai with 394 runs in just eight matches.
In 2015 he along Parthiv Patel formed an impressive duo at the top of the order. He was the second highest run-getter of the season behind only David Warner. He averaged 45 in the season which helped them win their second IPL trophy.
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#2 Chris Gayle replaced Dirk Nannes (Royal Challengers Bangalore, 2011)
2011 IPL auctions served a big surprise as Chris Gayle went unsold as teams keeping his probable international commitments in mind decided not to opt for him. But following his fallout with Windies Cricket Board and an injury to Dirk Nannes, he was available and Royal Challengers Bangalore snapped him.
He went on to change the face of RCB, as he scored tons and tons of runs for the franchise. He was the Orange Cap holder in the 2011 and 2012 seasons. In fact, his first three years in RCB throwed up some staggering numbers; reading 43 matches, 2049 runs with four 100s and 14 50s.
In 2013, he smashed 175 runs off 66 balls against Pune Warriors. The knock included a plethora of records like the fastest T20 hundred (30 balls), most sixes in an innings (17), most runs in boundaries (154). Gayle was the face of the team as his flamboyance became the flavor of the franchise.
#1 Doug Bollinger replaced Jacob Oram (Chennai Super Kings, 2010)
The ever-consistent Chennai Super Kings had an indifferent start to the third edition of the IPL as they lost five of the first seven matches. In order to strengthen their pace battery, they added Doug Bollinger in place of injured Jacob Oram.
This move started the resurgence of the team, as Bollinger played key roles in every game. In his debut game when the bowlers from both sides were going at more than 10 runs per over, he bowled at 3.75, picking up the key wicket of Shane Watson. It was his brilliance on the field to dismiss Yusuf Pathan that changed the match in CSK's favor.
The season's best spell was from Doug as his spell of 4-1-13-4 helped Chennai beat defending champions Deccan Chargers in the semi-finals. It was his spell in the finals that helped them win their first title. He also played a key role in CSK's triumph in the Champions League T20 in 2010.
He led Dhoni's bowling attack in the 2011 season as well and helped them successfully defend the title picking up 17 wickets. He was part of the three title triumphs in space of 12 months which started the legend of CSK.