Comeback man Mills targeting IPL Glory

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T20 cricket will always have its detractors, sports fans who see it as an amusing sideshow but not a true version of the game. Its popularity goes against that theory however, and as we’ll see when the Indian Premier League rolls into town, the shortest format is unlikely to decline anytime soon.

One happy by-product of T20 is the fact that it has provided a platform for some of the best players in the game to extend their careers. Adam Gilchrist, Jacques Kallis and even Sachin Tendulkar have been able to hang around in the spotlight for just that little bit longer. Meanwhile, for England’s Tymal Mills, Twenty 20 cricket has been able to provide something of a sporting lifeline.

Headline Act

If the Rising Pune Supergiants hadn’t broken all records to secure the services of Ben Stokes, Mills would have been the man to steal all the headlines. Purchased by the Royal Challengers Bangalore for around £1.4 million, this was a marquee signing, intended to push the pre-tournament favourites to their first IPL title.

Yet the left armer’s arrival on the international stage may have left some RCB fans wondering why he’s attracted so much money. Mills appeared in the recent T20 series with India and after four matches in England colours, he has just three wickets with a best of 1/27.

If supporters have any lingering doubt then they should perhaps head across to YouTube and look up a highlights reel of Mills bowling for his county Sussex against Somerset in the summer of 2016. There, he bamboozled his new Bangalore colleague Chris Gayle with a series of slower balls, culminating in a lightning fast Yorker that shattered the batsman’s stumps.

Mahela Jayawardene was next but he couldn’t read the variations in pace either and it was from that point that Mills’ had put his name down as a potential candidate for this season’s IPL.

Their Time at Last?

Royal Challengers are an infuriating team to get behind, and although their fluctuating fortunes will often lead to value in the in play markets, no-one will ever back them for the title with any great certainty. Every year, they arrive at the tournament with the strongest squad and each time they travel home with nothing.

In 2016, they did at least get to the final, so is Mills the man to finally get RCB across the line?

We’ve always known that RCB were supremely strong in the batting department so, in 2016, when Chris Gayle had a modest year by his own standards, Kohli and AB De Villiers were able to compensate. But it was the performance of Shane Watson with the ball that proved to be the real bonus. Brought in primarily as a batsman, the Australian finished third in the list of top wicket takers with 20 victims, one behind his Bangalore team mate Yuzvendra Chahal.

So, bowling suddenly looks to be strong too and while Chris Jordan arrived last year to give RCB an option at the death, Tymal Mills is the complete package in this department and is arguably the best bowler in T20 when it comes to the key overs – Powerplay and the final four.

Fitness will always be a concern of course and the Sussex man will need to be managed through two months of gruelling competition in stifling temperatures. Hopefully, he will not be needed when it comes to playing every game and although Jordan has crossed to the Sunrisers this time, RCB have plenty of options to cover for their big buy.

It was a huge purchase but have RCB gambled on a player with a suspect injury record or will Tymal Mills finally take the Royal Challengers to the IPL title?

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