IPL 2023: Top three players who made their comeback this season with a bang.
The 16th edition of TATA IPL commenced on March 31, 2023. Nearly one month into the tournament, we have seen quite a few games go down to the wire. Furthermore, with the advent of new rules such as the Impact Player Rule, the fans have experienced a different brand of cricket like never before. Amidst heightened excitement, this year's IPL season has also been centered on major comebacks made by veteran players. Upon their return, these players delivered some match-defining performances that have made astounding headlines in recent times. With that being said, let’s look at the top three player comebacks in IPL 2023.
Following Ajinkya Rahane's poor show with the bat last year against South Africa and England, the former India Test captain was axed from the red-ball squad. It was certainly hard to digest that someone who emerged as a hero in the 2020-21 Border Gavaskar Trophy would be sidelined in such a manner.
However, the 34-year-old has roared back in form and has displayed some positive intent with the bat this season; something that he was commonly renowned for. What’s more he has also earnt a comeback into the Test squad for the WTC 2021-23 Final against Australia in June 2023.
Unlike his last season with KKR where he only managed to accumulate 133 runs in 7 games, Rahane has scored 148 runs in just 4 games for Chennai Super Kings with a staggering average of 37. Besides, he has been striking it well as his strike rate has also been on the higher side this season touching round about 170.
Moreover, he stole the spotlight in CSK’s preceding fixture with his blistering knock of 71(29) against his former franchise KKR which powered CSK to a thumping victory. The mentorship which he is receiving from the CSK support staff has been instrumental in reviving his lost form. He is now an indispensable member of the CSK side and is comfortably filling the shoes of Ben Stokes who is still waiting on the sidelines recuperating from a toe injury.
Mohit Sharma made his debut for Team India way back in 2013. He was an active member of the Indian team for limited overs format up until 2015 where he finished his 2015 World Cup Campaign on a very promising note registering 13 wickets in 8 games. During that time, his IPL journey also began with Chennai Super Kings where he achieved a reasonable amount of success in his debut season. Just when things were beginning to come together for him, Sharma soon faded away from the India line up. With the emergence of fresh fast bowling talent featuring the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya, Sharma was forced to wait on the sidelines.
Although he was actively contributing in the domestic arena, he was still nowhere to be seen in the international arena. Prior to this edition, Sharma’s last IPL appearance came in 2020 for Delhi Capitals. After a nearly two year long hiatus, Sharma was roped in as a net bowler for Gujarat Titans which marked the beginning of his remarkable comeback. Though he did not participate in any fixtures for his side last season, Sharma utilised this time to hone his skills and enrich his bowling repertoire alongside very good players.
In an interaction with ESPNCricinfo, Sharma explained how competitive net practice gave him the much needed exposure to upgrade his skill set as a bowler. "If you have to upgrade your cricket or better it in any way, you need competitive practice. I felt, what am I going to do sitting at home? I was here and doing competitive practice instead, I kept myself involved in cricket, and I think it was a good time for me," said Sharma.
He finally put all his practice to test in the ongoing IPL edition where he achieved figures of 2-18 in his opening game against PBKS. His spell included 12 dots as he conceded only 2 boundaries for which he was later adjudged player of the match. And in his second game against LSG, he did the unthinkable and bowled a brilliant nerve-wracking over to defend 12 runs with an in-form KL Rahul at the crease. He returned figures of 2-17 which helped GT snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
The 34-year-old Piyush Chawla has a wealth of IPL experience under his belt and is regarded as one of the most reputed leg spinners in the history of IPL. However, in recent times, his performance has seen a steep decline. Prior to this edition, Chawla remained unsold in 2020 and only played one game of little significance back in 2021. Furthermore, the question marks around his fitness were also looming prior to his selection in the Mumbai Indians squad.
Against all odds, Chawla is now the leading wicket-taker for MI with 9 wickets to his name at an impressive average of just under 20. Besides, he has also been economical and kept the flow of the runs in check going around 7.2 RPO. His best performance of the season came against Delhi Capitals where he had figures of 3-22 at an impressive economy rate of 5.5 RPO. Although it was Tim David and Cameron Green who finished it off in style, Chawla’s contribution was extremely vital in restricting DC to a gettable target. With no frontline spinners in the MI squad, young spinners can greatly benefit from the experience of Piyush Chawla who has been associated with the cash rich league right from its inception.
These were some of the major comebacks listed above. There are also a few more notable comebacks from other veterans featuring Ishant Sharma, Sandeep Sharma and Amit Mishra.
The 34-year-old Ishant Sharma made quite an impact for his side in the last two games which helped DC break an embarrassing losing streak. He was roped in as an impact player against KKR and later emerged as the player of the match for his impressive figures of 2-19. He bowled reasonably well in his second game against SRH too where he conceded 18 in his 3 overs spell with a wicket as well.
Sandeep Sharma held his nerve and showed his class by bowling a scintillating last over to hold off a lethal MS Dhoni. He defended 21 runs in the last over handing RR with their first win in Cheapuk since 2008.
Amit Mishra returned to IPL for the first time since 2021 and is playing in LSG colours. The former India leggie was brought in as an impact player on three occasions and bowled quite tidily going at just under 7.5 RPO with 3 scalps to his name so far.