Ahead of IPL 2021, few franchises have been handed a sudden setback as they have been forced to switch to Plan B. After Josh Philippe and Mitchell Marsh opted out of the marquee tournament due to personal reasons, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad were quick to announce the replacement in the form of Finn Allen and Jason Roy respectively.
To add on to the list, Aussie pacer Josh Hazlewood has also made himself unavailable for Chennai Super Kings, putting the franchise’s think-tank back in action.
With the mega event just few days away, it would be really interesting to see who could be the replacement for Josh Hazlewood. Let us have a look at 3 possible options:
1. Hardus Viljoen
The South African pacer is one of the fastest bowlers in world cricket right now. Viljoen also has the experience of playing in IPL before when he appeared for Kings XI Punjab (now Punjab Kings) in 2019. The 32-year-old took 7 wickets in 6 matches and had a few impressive outings. One of the most important thing that works in his favour is that he is already with the CSK team as a net bowler and would be available from the first game itself. With few other Protean players in the form of Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir and Lungi Ngidi already in the side, it would be interesting to see if he will join them in the setup.
2. Mark Wood
The England fast-bowler had taken out his name for the IPL 2021 auction due to personal reasons. However, Wood’s impressive performances in the recently-concluded series against India would have tempted the IPL franchises to know about his availability for the upcoming season. The 31-year-old took 5 wickets in the 4 T20I games at a decent economy of 8.04. Something that could work in Wood’s favour is that he has been a part of CSK setup in last. The pacer was bought by MS Dhoni’ side for INR 1.5 crore in IPL 2018 auction. However, he had to opt out of the tournament due to injury after playing only 1 game for the franchise. Considering his present fitness and form, Wood could prove to be a great signing for CSK.
3. Matt Henry
The Kiwi pacer is one of the most exciting talents in international circuit. While Henry has still not proven his mettle in the shortest format, he has been consistently knocking the door with his consistent performances in the ODIs. The 29-year-old was notably Man of the Match (10-1-37-3) when New Zealand defeated India in the semi-finals of World Cup 2019. The fast-bowler has also played 2 IPL games for King XI Punjab (now Punjab Kings) in 2017. With an ability to bowl consistently at speeds of more than 140 kmph, Henry could certainly be an X-Factor addition to the already strong Chennai Super Kings side in IPL 2021.