IPL On Right Track To Fulfilling Its Bigger Purpose
The influx of talent is unforeseen in Indian cricket and the IPL is proving to be a breeding ground.
When the Indian team for the T20s against Sri Lanka last year was announced, quite a few rookies who made it to the squad. Interestingly most of the newbies in the squad - Washington Sundar, Deepak Hooda, Basil Thampi, Mohammad Siraj and Jaydev Unadkat- had been exemplary in the IPL for their respective franchises. The IPL revolution had begun.
When the Indian Premier League was originally created, it was meant to be a platform where the lesser known could make a compelling case in front of a larger audience and also share dressing rooms and thoughts with the bigger names in International cricket. A decade after its inception, the IPL seem to be fulfilling it's bigger purpose.
The beginning of the 2018 season was all about the return of Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals. Amidst all the hullabaloo, the tournament opener at Wankhede between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians started off with a taste of things to come.
Deepak Chahar, after a sensational Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 competition, beat the bat of Mumbai Indians skipper and India's adored opener, Rohit Sharma, thrice in a row. In a team where the average age is on the higher side, Chahar is a baby making his initial few footsteps in IPL but was entrusted with the responsibility of kicking off Chennai's return.
He did that with aplomb and almost as if to follow Chennai's cue, Mumbai Indians sent in Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav in at no.3 and no.4. The youngsters were involved in a resurrecting partnership of 78 in quick time as Chennai were pushed on to the back-foot.
Krunal Pandya, undeservedly in the uncapped category, then stood tall and showed the way with some lusty blows as his more celebrated brother watched from the other end. Such was Krunal's onslaught that of the 52 run stand with Hardik, 41 came off his bat.
In Chennai’s run chase, young leg-spinner, Mayank Markande, spun a web around Chennai batsmen with a three-wicket haul on IPL debut before Dwayne Bravo's heroics helped Chennai chase down the target.
The other teams carried on from where Chennai and Mumbai left off. Delhi Daredevils blooded Vijay Shankar at no.4 despite his recent fiasco with the bat against Bangladesh in the Nidahas Trophy final and picked young Rahul Tewatia over the experienced Shahbaz Nadeem. Kings XI Punjab, on the other hand, entrusted Karun Nair with no.4 duties, skipping him over the reputed David Miller and Marcus Stoinis.
In the Kolkata Knight Riders - Royal Challengers Bangalore tie-up in Kolkata, Mandeep Singh and Nitish Rana played crucial roles. Kulwant Khejroliya, Rinku Singh and Sarfaraz Khan were also pushed in at crucial junctures in the game. Rana broke all conventions when he not only broke the budding de Villiers - Kohli stand but dismissed the two friends in the space of two balls.
When Sunrisers Hyderabad took on Rajasthan Royals at Hyderabad, the Rahane-led unit had Sanju Samson at no.3 and young Rahul Tripathi at no.5. They also played Krishnappa Gowtham and Shreyas Gopal ahead of some more prominent names while Sunrisers themselves gave Siddharth Kaul the responsibility of tying up the batsmen. Kaul, to his credit, picked up two wickets giving away a meagre 17 runs in his four over spell.
After one round of matches for each team, the focus is on the young Indian stars who have already but overshadowed the bigger names. From Mayank Markande's scintillating spell to Siddharth Kaul's terrific length against experienced batsmen, the flavour of the IPL after a decade is a touch different.
The usual shenanigans aside, the start of the 2018 IPL promises much for Indian cricket who are on their way to become the West Indies of the 1970s and the Australians of the 2000s. The Virat Kohli-led Indian side is quickly gaining a reputation of being ruthless but they could well be scripting a completely different tale if these youngsters stand up and take over.
The huge influx of talent is unforeseen in Indian cricket and the IPL is proving to be a breeding ground for such cricketers who were prior to this restrained to being street legends. After a decade of turmoil, controversies, bans and stardom, the IPL is finally fulfilling it's bigger purpose - of creating a steady stream of talent to Indian cricket.