IPL stars of yesteryear now sans lustre

Sometimes, you just wonder how those owning IPL franchises end up making silly mistakes in the auction room. Shelling out seven-figure sums on unknown players is just one of them. Yes, there are times when the punt works perfectly. And, on some occasions, the same hopeful lad fails to deliver after a season or two.

Swapnil Asnodkar.   -  Rajeev Bhatt

Saurabh Tiwary.   -  Vivek Bendre

Manpreet Singh Gony.   -  K. Pichumani

Doug Bollinger.   -  K. R. Deepak

Paul Valthaty.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

Let’s have a look at five IPL stars who regaled us once upon a time. Where are they now?

SWAPNIL ASNODKAR

The year was 2008. The IPL was just a few weeks old, but it was anything but a toddler. Incredibly enough, a motley crew of cricketers led by the greatest man to have not captained Australia, had notched up its seventh victory in nine outings.

So, how do you think Rajasthan Royals spent its much-deserved four-day break that season? Well, the players set sail for Goa, the home of Swapnil Asnodkar. One can safely assume that the diminutive wicketkeeper-batsman played his part in convincing Shane Warne that there was no better place for a mid-tournament break than the sun-kissed, beach-blessed state he hailed from. The Royals had a ball at the Fort Aguada Beach Resort, where they were treated to everything from seafood to spa sessions.

Asnodkar also took his mates around so they could get a feel of the local culture. Whatever it is, the trip worked wonders. If nothing, the diminutive Asnodkar epitomised the team’s fearless approach back then. No wonder, then, that nicknames like ‘Pocket Dynamo’, ‘India’s Kaluwitharana’ and ‘Goa Bomber’ were bestowed upon him. His tally of 311 runs for Rajasthan Royals was trumped only by the spunky nature of his batting at the top of the order. The manner in which he combined with the likes of Graeme Smith, Yusuf Pathan and Shane Watson helped Royals go all the way.

BATTING RECORD IN IPL (Rajasthan Royals)

M

I

Runs

HS

Avg

SR

100s

50s

4s

6s

20

20

423

60

21.15

124.77

0

2

56

10

Alas, it was a one-off. In the following season, played in South Africa, the right-hander managed a meagre 98 runs in eight innings. His returns in the 2010 edition were apologetic: five runs from two games. We last saw him in the 2011 tournament in which he played a solitary game, making nine runs.

Asnodkar continues to score bucketful of runs in domestic cricket, but his love affair with the IPL dream is a thing of the past. For the statistically-inclined, he accumulated 762 runs in the Ranji Trophy this season. Bet you didn’t know that. In other words, he’s around but not quite.

SAURABH TIWARY

For someone who has tallied 1,054 runs in 56 innings, you could say Saurabh Tiwary has done reasonably well in the IPL. But dig deeper, and you’ll realise he was a one-season wonder. Burly figure, long mane, courageous batting — Tiwary was an alter ego of M. S. Dhoni. That he hailed from Jharkhand was more than just incidental.

With 419 runs at a strike-rate of 136, Tiwary had finished as the second-highest run-getter for Mumbai Indians in IPL 3. Only a chap called Sachin Tendulkar managed to trump him. That display was supposed to propel Tiwary to the upper echelons of Indian cricket. It did, but only for a brief while. After three ODI caps in the space of two months, Tiwary went off the radar.

He did continue to get runs in first-class cricket, but a high-profile move to the Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2011 turned out to be a dud. Simply put, he became a $1.6-million liability. Fathom this: save for the 2010 gig, Tiwary has managed only 635 runs in 41 outings.

BATTING RECORD IN IPL (Delhi Daredevils, Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore)

M

I

Runs

HS

Avg

SR

100s

50s

4s

6s

70

56

1054

61

28.48

119.36

0

4

67

41

Interestingly, Tiwary is only 26. He looks much older, though, and has gained weight in the wrong areas. He turned out for Delhi Daredevils in 2015, and was acquired by debutant Rising Pune Supergiants for the 2016 season.

Tiwary’s 2015-16 Ranji Trophy form was good. He was among the top-15 run-getters of the season with a double-century and five half-centuries. It remains to be seen if Dhoni gives him a decent run this time around. Lest we forget, Tiwary’s brand of batting is an exciting one, and there is every chance of him enjoying a second wind. And, given that he has age on his side, one must not just overlook him. Not just yet.

MANPREET SINGH GONY

Manpreet Singh Gony was born to be a fast bowler. That sort of a build could take you places in the wide world of cricket. Five months after making his first-class debut for Punjab, Gony found himself donning the canary yellow of Chennai Super Kings where M. S. Dhoni — pardon the rhyme — would get the best out of him. Only Sohail Tanvir, Shane Warne and S. Sreesanth got more wickets than him in the inaugural edition of the league. Three others — Shane Watson, Piyush Chawla and Albie Morkel — picked up as many wickets as he did (17).

BOWLING RECORD IN IPL (Chennai Super Kings, Deccan Chargers, Kings XI Punjab)

M

I

Wkts

Best

Avg

Econ

SR

43

43

37

3/31

33.91

8.59

23.6

Barely a month after his team’s run to the final of the tournament, Gony would go on to play for the country at the Asia Cup in Pakistan. That, unfortunately, was the last time we saw him in national colours. Even more shocking is the fact that his aggressive hit-the-deck bowling fetched him only 20 more wickets in 27 IPL games from 2009 to 2013. Gony continues to be an important member of the Punjab set-up, but he is nowhere close to the thrilling prospect he used to be.

At 32, and three years after his last IPL game, Gony will have to pray for a miracle of sorts to interest a franchise. But you never know. Ashish Nehra could be an inspiration!

DOUG BOLLINGER

A left-arm fast bowler who wore his heart on his sleeve, Douglas Erwin Bollinger picked up 12 wickets in eight matches in the 2010 season. His performances went a long way in taking Chennai Super Kings all the way. Constantly troubling batsmen with impeccably accurate spells replete with those famous away-goers, Bollinger troubled the best of batsmen in that season.

He was at his best in the semifinal contest against the now-defunct Deccan Chargers. An amazing return of 4-1-13-4 helped the eventual champion defend 142 with ease. Bollinger got rid of Adam Gilchrist, T. Suman, B. Sumanth and Ryan Harris that evening.

BOWLING RECORD IN IPL (Chennai Super Kings)

M

I

Wkts

Best

Avg

Econ

SR

27

27

37

4/13

18.72

7.21

15.5

In the final, he got the wicket of Shikhar Dhawan with a delivery pitched back of a length. Standing 6’4”, Bollinger was the life and soul of Chennai’s bowling unit that season. He was everywhere, so much so that M. S. Dhoni often went to him for the breakthrough.

The next two seasons didn’t, however, go that well for Bollinger. Perhaps, he fell out of favour because he retired from ODI cricket in 2011. Bollinger continues to play for New South Wales in first-class cricket and Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash League. What are the chances of an IPL comeback? Only time will tell.

PAUL VALTHATY

Aged 27, and with just one List A game and 13 Twenty20 matches under his belt, Paul Valthaty was a nobody. All that changed on April 13, 2011. Taking first strike as Kings XI Punjab set out to chase a mammoth target of 189, Valthaty put on a brilliant exhibition of batting at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Chandigarh. His belligerent 120 not out, which took just 63 balls and comprised 19 hits to the fence and two over it, stunned the Chennai Super Kings.

BATTING RECORD IN IPL (Rajasthan Royals, Kings XI Punjab)

M

I

Runs

HS

Avg

SR

100s

50s

4s

6s

23

23

505

120*

22.95

120.81

1

2

61

20

The whole country thought that a star was born. That M. S. Dhoni got a first-hand look at the lad also meant something. Alas, Valthaty’s fall was as swift as his rise. After tallying 463 runs in that edition of the tournament, Valthaty played just seven more games over the next two seasons. A product of Mumbai’s maidan culture, Valthaty spent a year in Himachal Pradesh. A return to Mumbai, in 2012, didn’t quite go the way he would have liked.

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