Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
South Africa batsman Hashim Amla was one of the standout performers in last year’s Indian Premier League (IPL), but in a rather bizarre move, the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) opted not to retain his services for the upcoming edition of the tournament.
Amla was initially signed by KXIP as a replacement for Shaun Marsh in 2016. He was subsequently retained after scoring 157 runs in six matches at an average of 26.16.
While Amla’s innings of 96 against the Sunrisers Hyderabad was his only knock of fifty or more in the tournament in 2016, he more than made up for it in the 2017 IPL, where he finished as the sixth-highest scorer.
Amla, who was also KXIP’s highest scorer, accumulated 420 runs, which included two centuries and two fifties, in 12 matches at an average of 60 and a strike-rate of 145.83.
IPL franchises would give an arm and a leg to secure the services of a cricketer who not only dominated the competition, but was also the only player to score two hundreds in the tournament.
That dream could very well become a reality during the IPL auction, which will be held on January 27 and 28 in Bangalore, as all the franchises have an opportunity to secure Amla’s services.
While KXIP, who only retained Axar Patel, may use one of their Right to Match (RTM) cards on Amla, it may derail their plans to purchase other players as they may have to part with a serious amount of money.
Despite having a base price of 1.5 crore, Amla is highly likely to attract a lot of interest, given his performances in the 2017 IPL.
However, if KXIP opt not to retain Amla during the auction, he could go to another franchise and have another prosperous season. Should this occur, it would be a bitter pill for KXIP to swallow, especially knowing that they had the chance to keep hold of the 34-year-old prior to the auction.
While there is no way of predicting what kind of season Amla will have in this year’s IPL, provided he is sold at the auction, I feel that KXIP will end up regretting their decision not to retain Amla.
Not only did the Durban native shine with the bat last year, but, as mentioned before, he also achieved something no one else could, which was to score two centuries.
Given the talent and wealth of experience he possesses, KXIP should have really thought through their decision before letting Amla slip through their fingers and into the IPL auction, where they will have to battle against seven other franchises to keep hold of him.
With Amla’s future to be determined this weekend, KXIP may head into the tournament in April ruing their decision not to retain their best batsman from last year.
Feature written by Bimal Mirwani