It offers its moments of honour; it presents its days of gloom. Along with the highs that it has to offer, the sporting field, very cruelly, remains intertwined with the abysmal depths of heartbreaks, injuries and failures.
Just days after announcing his arrival in the tenth edition of the Indian Premier League with aplomb, Kolkata Knight Riders’ Chris Lynn injured his left shoulder in the team’s second match against Mumbai Indians.
Diving to stop a ball that had been struck by Jos Buttler, Lynn hurt his shoulder in a terrible fall, immediately leaving the field with an ice pack taped to his shoulder. After scoring 125 in 2 innings, with an astonishing average of 125, Lynn’s third injury to his left shoulder in a span of 18 months was enough to send panic waves around the KKR dressing room. Although coach Jacques Kallis remains hopeful of his quick recovery, it would be foolish to assume that Lynn can be back to his destructive self soon.
With Andre Russell missing out – banned for a year by the ICC for violating a doping code violation – it was Lynn’s opportunity to stamp his authority while opening the innings for the franchise. The Man of the Tournament in the Big Bash had begun his Indian journey in the right earnest before destiny decided to run riot.
His heartfelt tweet, moments after his injury, displayed his disappointment, reinforcing once again that sport remains defined by uncertainty and unpredictability.
Dear Cricket Gods, did I do something wrong?— Chris Lynn (@lynny50) April 9, 2017
After the unfortunate turn of events, the Gautam Gambhir-led team can turn to these five players as worthy replacements for the Australian.
#1 Alex Hales (England)
The 2017 IPL auctions threw up a massive surprise when English opener Alex Hales remained unsold. Having destroyed bowlers with his cuts and drives through the offside, Hales was termed as an explosive batsman that could walk into any IPL team.
The 6 foot 5 inch cricketer has astonishing T20 records to go with his hard hitting intent. Averaging 28.34 in over 147 T20 games to date, Hales’ strike rate of 137.95 tells its own tale. A century in the shortest format of the game – wherein he notched up 116 from just 64 deliveries – in the T20 World Cup in 2013 firmly established the Englishman as a destructive opener in the format.
With Kolkata Knight Riders in dire need of a pinch hitter in the top order – a major reason Sunil Narine was asked to open for the team in Lynn’s absence – Hales could be an effective replacement for the Australian. With powerful shots in his arsenal and the ability to swing the ball out of the park at will, the 28-year-old brings with him truckloads of experience that can strengthen an already mighty KKR team.
#2 Evin Lewis (West Indies)
Evin Lewis made waves in the nation after he notched up a century against India in the high scoring T20 series that was held in the USA last year. Much like every West Indian, Lewis too has remained a destructive player in the T20 circuit, averaging 30.44 in 56 T20 games to date. More importantly, a strike rate of 135.53 reflects why he regards Chris Gayle as his cricketing idol.
Having dished out match winning performances in the Caribbean Premier League, the Champions League and the Bangladesh Premier League, the opener remained unsold at the IPL auctions this year. With KKR already sans Andre Russell, Lewis promises to bring in the West Indian flair to the line-up.
#3 Rilee Rossouw (South Africa)
A top order batsman possessing a bag of elegant shots, Rilee Rossouw has already made his mark in the shortest format of the game. The left-hander, who signed the Kolpak agreement effectively drawing curtains on his international career, has played 95 T20 fixtures, averaging 27.90, with a strike rate of 129.14.
In T20Is for South Africa, the 27-year-old averages almost 30, with a strike rate that shoots up to 138, indicating his improved performance while playing international bowlers in pressure situations.
With the IPL containing a horde of international bowlers, Rossouw can manoeuvre his experienced contemporaries with his trademark drive, and thus will prove to be more than effective for the KKR franchise.
#4 Farhaan Behardien (South Africa)
Appointed South Africa’s T20 captain for a three-match series against Sri Lanka earlier this year, Farhaan Behardien remains an underrated middle order cricketer, who was noticed when he won the South African T20 Player of the Year in 2012.
Even though international opportunities in the shortest format remained sparse in an already heavy Protean batting order, Behardien remained consistent in his domestic performances. Averaging 33.15 with a strike rate of 131.09 in 138 T20 games, the all-rounder has established himself as one of the mainstays of the national line-up.
He was given the captaincy after an impressive performance for the Titans in the domestic circuit, wherein he finished as the third highest run-getter in the league.
If drafted into the KKR franchise, Gambhir will have the additional option of bowling Behardien’s handy medium pace which lends an additional balance to the side.
#5 Tamim Iqbal (Bangladesh)
With Afghanistan’s Mohammad Shahzad being caught in an anti-doping code violation by the ICC, Tamim Iqbal can be a possible replacement for Chris Lynn. One of the most reliable batsman in the Bangladeshi line-up, Iqbal’s cricket remains effused with elegance, defined amply when he plays his trademark straight drive.
One of the hardest hitters of the ball in his country, the left-hander has carved a name for himself as a successful subcontinent player. With a century in the qualifying stages of the T20 World Cup last year for his team, the underrated batsman can prove to be more than an effective top order batsman for KKR, in conditions that he remains familiar with.