IPL 2024 – Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah, Kane Williamson, Pat Cummins, Shreyas Iyer, Mitchell Starc return

Several important players were missing from action in IPL 2023 due to various reasons. They are back this year

Shashank Kishore

Rishabh Pant is on his way home after a life-threatening car accident Delhi Capitals

Some of the game’s biggest names are making a comeback to the IPL after being away from the tournament for varying lengths of time. Here’s a check.

In December 2022, when Pant was seriously injured in a horrific car accident, doubts arose over whether he would be able to play cricket again. Fourteen months later, his return as captain of the Delhi Capitals is a cause for celebration, and not just for the Capitals. But we will have to see how Pant copes with the demands of batting, captaincy and eventually wicketkeeper, during a rigorous IPL season after such a long period away from the game.

He underwent three knee ligament reconstructions, skin grafts on his back and thighs, several stitches, therapy and months of rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore to get here.

Pant’s return will add firepower to the Capitals’ batting line-up, especially in the middle and at the death, phases in which they were the slowest scorers last season, when they finished second to from the bottom. And if he has a promising IPL, a place in India’s T20 World Cup squad is not out of the question either.

Having missed IPL 2023 due to a back injury, Bumrah begins the new season at the peak of his bowling form: he has taken 19 wickets in four Tests against England at an average of 16.89. However, he has not played a T20 since India’s tour of Ireland in August 2023, and his last white-ball match was the ODI World Cup final on November 19. Bumrah was given a break for the fourth Test of the series against England to manage his workload, which might also require monitoring while he is with the Mumbai Indians, with India qualifying directly for the World Cup T20 a week after the IPL final.

Iyer had to skip the last IPL due to a back injury and has since undergone surgery, and he begins this season as captain of the Kolkata Knight Riders after a difficult few months.

He had an excellent ODI World Cup in October and November, but soon after, Iyer lost his place in India’s T20I and Test squads and then his BCCI central contract after failing to feature in the Ranji Trophy while he was not on international duty. He bounced back with a fluent 95 for Mumbai in the Ranji final, but remained off the field the last two days due to back pain.

Iyer needs a strong IPL season to recover.

Cummins withdrew from IPL 2023, sacrificing his INR 7.25 crore (approximately US$874,000) paycheck with KKR, so he could focus on international cricket in a busy year. He ended up leading Australia to the World Test Championship title, retained the Ashes in England and then won the ODI World Cup in India.

His shares skyrocketed and after being released by KKR, Cummins became the first player to be sold at an IPL auction for over INR 20 crore. Since then, Sunrisers Hyderabad have also made him their captain for the 2024 season.

Cummins, however, has not enjoyed much success in the IPL over the years.

In his most recent season, 2022, he took seven wickets in five matches for KKR with an economy rate of 10.69. He has never led a team – country, state or franchise – in T20 cricket before and faces the challenge of uniting a diverse dressing room and reviving the Sunrisers’ fortunes. Under different captains – David Warner, Kane Williamson and Aiden Markram – SRH finished last in 2021, eighth in 2022 and last again in 2023.

Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins: The only 20 crore men in the IPL Getty Images

After missing the last eight seasons, Starc returns to the IPL as the most expensive player of all time: he was bought by KKR for INR 24.75 crores (approximately $2.98 million) after auctions fierce performances from Mumbai Indians, Capitals and Gujarat Titans.

But Starc comes into the IPL without much recent experience with the white ball. His last ODI was the 2023 World Cup final in November, and before playing two T20Is against New Zealand in February, his previous T20Is were in the 2022 T20 World Cup.

Starc has only played two IPL seasons previously, for Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2014 and 2015, and while he entered the auction in 2018 – he was also bought by KKR – he withdrew before the season. Although Starc’s international pedigree is what earned him this record deal, he must now deliver on his promises. He will start the season against Cummins when KKR take on Sunrisers at Eden Gardens on March 23.

Williamson’s first season for the Titans lasted barely an hour on the field. In the 2023 season opener against the Chennai Super Kings, he jumped the boundary to attempt a catch, landed awkwardly, broke his anterior cruciate ligament and only returned to international cricket during the ODI World Cup in October after recovering from knee surgery.

The Titans need an experienced hand in the team, as Shubman Gill prepares for his first season as IPL captain after Hardik Pandya’s trade to Mumbai Indians, and Williamson will be crucial.

Bairstow was unavailable for Punjab Kings in IPL 2023 as he recovered from surgery following a broken leg in September 2022. He comes into this season having spent two months in India for a five-Test series, which culminated with his 100th appearance in white for England. in Dharamsala.

He has been explosive for the Kings during the 2022 season, scoring 253 runs at a strike rate of 144.57, although he only averaged 23. It remains to be seen if Bairstow is among the four first-choice foreign players for the team at the start of this season, as they attempt to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

Shashank Kishore is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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