The 2021 Indian Premier League has restarted in the United Arab Emirates and there are some early signs that some South African stars dotted around the several franchises will have more of a role to play than others.
De Villiers at RCB
Former Proteas captain AB de Villiers fell for a first-ball duck against the Kolkata Knight Riders. The Royal Challengers Bangalore lost that match in a disappointing fashion, which should affect their Sportsadda and India IPL odds. Bangalore have lost a few key assets between the first and second leg of the 2021 IPL. Now that he is completely done with international cricket, having snubbed the Proteas and Cricket South Africa once and for all, he can focus entirely on his contributions to domestic T20 leagues around the world. He, reportedly, will play in the Everest Premier League later this year as well. There is no confirmation of which EPL team he will play for yet, though. Perhaps he will join fellow South African Richard Levi, who incidentally used to play for the Mumbai Indians in the IPL, at the Pokhara Rhinos.
Morris and Shamsi at Rajasthan
Over at the Rajasthan Royals, the most expensive purchase in the history of the IPL is still with the inaugural 2008 winners. Indeed, South African Chris Morris will have to bring plenty to the party with bat and ball in order to justify his hefty price tag of more than R30 million for the 2021 tournament. The Royals have lost plenty of England stars, including all-rounder Ben Stokes and wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler. But they have brought in Proteas wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi. He is currently on top of the International Cricket Council’s rankings for T20I bowlers and will be brimming with confidence on the back of a decent stint in The Hundred – the England and Wales Cricket Board’s new tournament.
Du Plessis and Tahir at CSK
Faf du Plessis and Imran Tahir, just like Morris, are freelancing South Africans who have been overlooked for the Proteas’ 2021 T20 World Cup squad despite being available for selection. Du Plessis headed in to the IPL restart on the back of a successful stint with the St Lucia Kings. He captained the team and opened the batting. He is the proud owner of one of a few CPL 2021 centuries. That says a a lot for a player who struggled with the aftereffects of a concussion until just recently. He carried the Kings the bulk of the way to the final, where this time they lost to the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots. Last year, they had lost the final to the Trinbago Knight Riders. Trinbago and the Patriots also have players involved in the IPL. These include Evin Lewis at the Royals and Sherfane Rutherford at the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Unlike du Plessis, Tahir has not been utilised by the Chennai Super Kings during the opening throes of the IPL 2021. He might come into play down the line, as the pitches in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah start to grow a bit tired and spin is more of a requirement than seam.
Marco Jansen at Mumbai
Whether or not the Mumbai Indians are going to involve South African seamer Marco Jansen again remains in the balance. He was in their starting XI for the IPL when the first leg was underway in India earlier this year. He is another fine example of a South African fast bowler who has not yet been capped at international level, but is performing well domestically around the world. Other examples are Migael Pretorius and Gerald Coetzee. The former was with the Jamaica Tallawahs in the CPL 2021 and impressed with a couple of four-fors. Coetzee was a late addition to the Royals squad in the first part of the IPL 2021.