IPL 2019: 3 players for whom the next IPL could be the last
Indian Premier League has been the best thing that has happened to not only Indian cricket but also international cricket. A number of talented cricketers are getting identified every year and the dynamics of the game itself is changing.
The IPL retirement age has been decreasing steadily over the past few seasons. We have seen the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Mathew Hayden, and Sanath Jayasuriya play IPL till their 40s and now, Gautam Gambhir has decided not to play in the IPL at 37 years of age. Although experience is an important factor, teams are preferring youth in recent times. They offer higher flexibility and are usually good on the field.
Due to this trend, most of the cricketers who fail to perform well in a season get fewer or no opportunities for the next season. That has led to the premature end to IPL careers of some cricketers.
On that note, these three players are in the final stages of their careers and IPL 2019 could be the last time they would be playing in the tournament.
#3 Imran Tahir
Imran Tahir falls into the category of cricketers who had a late start to their international careers but have cemented their place in the squad. In IPL too, Tahir has had good stints with Rising Pune Supergiants and Chennai Super Kings last season. The trend of overseas spinners being picked by an IPL franchise is decreasing unless there is a mystery spinner available.
Imran Tahir is a leg-spinner and plenty are available in the Indian market. Tahir is very close to his 40s and that could be a determining factor when his name comes up for discussion within a franchise. Hence, it is very unlikely that Tahir's IPL career would continue after next year.
#2 Chris Gayle
Known as the Universe Boss, Chris Gayle has been the face of T20 cricket since its inception. No other batsman has had such an impact on this format and like all good things, this is diminishing too. Apart from a few good knocks on certain occasions, Gayle has not been in good form.
Especially in IPL, he has been inconsistent in the past few seasons and he was picked up very late in the previous auctions. KXIP has retained him for next season but there would be concerns regarding his form and fitness. KXIP is certain to buy a few opening options and that would add pressure on the Jamaican.
Gayle has been playing only selected games for his country and next year's World Cup could be the end of his international career too. Apart from his brand value and entertainment factor, Gayle would contribute less to a franchise and it might not be a surprise next IPL becomes his last.
#1 Harbhajan Singh
After a successful decade-long association with Mumbai Indians, Harbhajan Singh moved to arch-rivals Chennai Super Kings. Harbhajan became the second player after Rohit Sharma to win four IPL trophies as Chennai Super Kings defeated Sunrisers Hyderabad in last season's final.
As a player within the team, Bhajji was highly inconsistent and he was also dropped for a few games. Although he has been retained for the upcoming season, Bhajji's game time would further drop down and he might have some competition if CSK buys a spinner at the auctions.
Also, Bhajji is not active in domestic cricket which could affect his form. He has multiple assignments in the commentatory box and Bhajji is already gearing up for his next Profession. Considering all these factors, Harbhajan could well be playing his last IPL in 2019 unless he sets the tournament on fire next season.