There are still two weeks to go for the 2023 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) to begin, but a few teams have already been struck with injuries. Rishabh Pant for Delhi Capitals, Jasprit Bumrah and Jhye Richardson for Mumbai Indians are few prominent ones who have already been ruled out from this year’s edition. The list got lengthened with Will Jacks’ injury and then RCB announced that Michael Bracewell, the New Zealand all-rounder, as replacement for the English batter.
With his inclusion, the Bangalore franchise now have two batting all-rounders and one bowling all-rounder. Let look at some of the pros and cons of his addition:
The Southpaw experience
Barring Bracewell, the Bangalore franchise have eight left-handed batters in their entire squad. Out of which, only two have five-plus match international experience. Even in that, two are primarily bowlers - David Willey and Josh Hazlewood. Shahbaz Ahmed has had one semi-successful season, Mahipal Lomror and Anuj Rawat have had IPL experience but haven’t achieved anything significant, yet.
Which is why the inclusion of an internationally experienced batter like Bracewell might help Bangalore. In the last year’s IPL, Bangalore’s left-handers in the top seven, averaged 20.2 and struck at 6.7, the worst among all teams.
The perfect all-rounder who can float with bat and ball
With the all-rounder, the biggest advantage is that he can double up as a top order and middle order batter, with consistency and good pace. That’s not it, with the ball as well, he has an exceptional record in the powerplay as well as the middle overs. Needless to say, a complete all-rounder.
The Bangalore franchise are in dire need of a floater and Bracewell seems to be the perfect fit. In T20s since 2020, Bracewell has scored close to 300 runs at an average of 145.5 and a strike rate of 164.4 as a #3 batter. This includes his personal best of 141* as well. Adding on, as a #5 batter, in eight innings, he averages 62.5 and strikes at 143.4. With him in the team, Virat Kohli can bat as an opener, and Rajat Patidar can be a great asset at #4. Then the likes of Glenn Maxwell, Dinesh Karthik, and Shahbaz, can take over.
Interestingly, in his T20 career, he has opened in nine innings and has scored 266 runs at an average of 29.6 and a mind boggling strike rate of 178.5. Well, he can open the innings as well, in case Kohli prefers to bat at No.3.
Coming to his bowling, Bracewell, in all T20s since 2020, has picked up 10 wickets at an economy of 4.4 and a bowling strike rate of 10.8, in the first six overs, that’s absolute gold. With the ball in hand, the first six overs were an area of concern for Bangalore bowlers last year. They had picked up a wicket every 30.3 balls and 8.5 runs per over, the worst among all teams.
The perfect backup for Maxwell and Hasaranga
In case you don’t know, Wanindu Hasaranga will not be available for the first three-four matches for Bangalore. Sri Lanka will be playing their last T20I on April 8th in their ongoing tour of New Zealand. On the other hand, their premium batter Maxwell has just returned from an injury.
In the absence of Hasaranga, and if Maxwell suffers a niggle or needs rest, Bangalore have Bracewell as the perfect replacement. Adding on the top of that, apart from Maxwell, Bracewell is the only other off spinner for Bangalore.
Lacks away T20 experience
Bracewell has played 117 T20 matches in his career. While it seems like he has a lot of experience, he has played 105 of those matches in New Zealand alone. The other 12 away matches have all been for New Zealand. If we look at his away career in more detail, out of the 12 matches, four have been in India and two in West Indies. The rest have been in associate nation countries.
This will be the first time in his T20 career, he will be playing in a franchise league. All his experience has been for New Zealand’s domestic T20 tournament. This could be a very huge disadvantage.
Did the India-knock factor influence Bangalore?
In all T20s, Bracewell has an average of 30.9 and strikes at 133.5, which is a good record. But, he hasn’t faced that much quality bowling attack. Even in his three innings against India, he could score only 23 runs at an average of 7.3 and a strike rate of 71.9.
Overall in international T20s, Bracewell has scored 113 runs at a strike rate of 139.5. Out of which, 89 runs have come against teams ranked seven or lower. He has scored those 89 runs at a strike rate of 202.3. Whereas, against top six teams, in five innings, he has 24 runs at an average of 6 and strike rate of 32. In any case, he has a great record with the ball in hand.
He has picked up eight wickets in six innings at an average of 10.4 and a bowling strike rate of 13.5, against top six as compared to 13 wickets at 10.5 and 10.5 strike rate.
In the first ODI against India in 2023, Bracewell smashed a 78-ball 100. Apart from that, in eight innings, his highest score is 43 against Pakistan in Karachi. Even in his overall career, apart from his two centuries, 140 against India, and 127* against Ireland in 2022, there hasn’t been any significant knock.