Out of form? Short of game time? Franchise T20 cricket is here to save the day.
Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul
Dhawan is a different beast at ICC world events, but his form leading up to the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019 hasn’t been promising. He had a middling Australia series despite slamming a career-best 143 in Mohali. That was his only fifty-plus score in 12 innings across the two limited-overs formats.
Rahul is desperately short of game time, having spent the bulk of 2019 serving a suspension and warming the bench. He played a lone Test during India’s tour of Australia, before a BCCI sanction put him out of commission. Rahul returned during the home limited-overs series against Australia and made a fifty in the first T20I in Visakhapatnam, but he has work ahead of him to firm up a World Cup spot.
David Warner and Steve Smith
Warner and Smith haven't played international cricket in almost a year, and won't be having any game time in Australia colours until the World Cup. In light of that, their IPL campaigns for Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rajasthan Royals respectively are particularly crucial.
Not too long ago, they were considered the best Australian batsmen, and doing well in the IPL will be a crucial step towards re-discovering those high standards. Australia’s other batsmen have shown their class in the recent one-day international series win in India, which means that they will have to look at the IPL as a way of paving their way back in the side.
Russell has been a part of the Kolkata franchise since 2014 and has established himself as one of the key players in the side. While Russell’s IPL career has been a huge success, the same cannot be said about his international numbers. The 30-year-old made his one-day international debut in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2011. A spate of frequent injuries and a one-year ban in 2017 then stalled the Jamaican’s progress in limited-overs cricket.
His last ODI came in July 2018 against Bangladesh, which was his first ODI in three years. While his recent knee injury has hindered his ability to bowl full-time, his batting remains as explosive as ever. T20 leagues are Russell’s specialty and the IPL will offer him a perfect platform to get some hitting practice before the World Cup.
Miller – with Chris Gayle, Andrew Tye and Sam Curran – is part of a daunting overseas contingent for the Kings XI Punjab. The fiery lower-order batsman will be keen to find his best form in the IPL, more so since his international returns have been mediocre recently.
While Miller's spot in South Africa's ODI XI is more or less sealed – especially given his ability to chip in as wicket-keeper – he is yet to cross fifty in the format this year. He has accumulated just 142 runs in six innings at an uncharacteristic strike-rate of 88.75. The 29-year-old will be desperate to hit form in the IPL – he will need it during the World Cup.
With South Africa pacer Lungi Ngidi ruled out of the IPL due to injury, Willey will be one of the international stars Chennai Super Kings will be looking to rely on. The England paceman made his IPL debut only last season for the same team and played in three games picking up two wickets. After going unsold in the first round, Chennai picked him up again and Willey will be looking forward to proving his credibility.
Earlier this month, he registered his career-best T20I figures: 4/7 against the West Indies.
With the World Cup fast-approaching and spots up for grabs, this IPL could be Willey's golden ticket to the marquee event. So far, he has represented England in 42 ODIs and 27 T20Is and has 82 international wickets.
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