One of IPLs selling points when it set out was the all-star match ups it promised on an everyday basis. When Rajasthan Royals take on Deccan Chargers in Jaipur,one such show down Rahul Dravid facing up to Dale Steyn will probably set the ball rolling. While that may be so,it is also not unimaginable to think that Tuesdays match could also pit a few relatively humbler practitioners of the trade against each other.
Deccan,who are bottom of the table but have played just two matches,are yet to settle on a unit. Maybe winning a match will highlight a few performers. A harder look at their rosters would do too. The former champions have in their squad the leading wicket taker of the 2011-12 Ranji campaign (TP Sudhindra) and the top run getters of the last two editions of the Vijay Hazare trophy (Ishank Jaggi in 10-11 and Ravi Teja this season).
Rajasthan too is well served in this regard,having enlisted the third highest wicket-taker this Ranji season in Pankaj Singh and arguably the seasons best all-rounder in Stuart Binny (742 runs at 67.45 and 20 wickets at 20.10).
Singh,prior to the start of this season,had bowled just 29 overs in the IPL during,which he also donned Royal Challengers Bangalores colours too. Binny is yet to start a game this season.
Robin Bist (more than 1,000 Ranji runs this year) and Parvinder Awana (top Vijay Hazare wicket-taker) have had little or no opportunities at Delhi and Punjab,though it is still early days.
Going further back,the numbers swell. The 07-08 seasons top Ranji run-getter Cheteshwar Pujara did not get a single game with Kolkata before injuring himself next season (after another strong Ranji run) and has since tallied just 20 appearances in four seasons until IPL 5. Abhinav Mukunds form between 08 and 10 when he was near the top of the run list in both the Ranji and Vijay Hazare tournaments did not convince Chennai to give him more than two matches.
From the achievers of the 09-10 batch,Shreevats Goswami (leading runs,Vijay Hazare) got two matches with RCB that edition.
Before objections can be raised about the discrepancy in formats it is worth considering that just one (Mandeep Singh,Kings XI Punjab) of the six players who have topped batting/bowling charts of the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament over the last three years has figured in the subsequent IPL season.
It is perhaps that their credentials are not seen as too relevant for the IPL,or that these players suffer from reasoning that places more faith in oomph and age. As ever,there are a few exceptions that offer hope. S Badrinaths (30-plus and stodgy) relentless accumulation across seasons got him not just an India ticket,but also a more or less permanent spot in a strong CSK middle order.
Ashok Menarias first class average of 88.5 in 10-11 saw him feature in all but one of Rajasthans IPL engagements that year. Manish Pandeys purple patch between 09-10 and 10-11 was rewarded with meaty roles for RCB and Pune Warriors. Bhargav Bhatts (no greased lightning here either) 41 wickets (Ranji 10-11) saw him feature in 10 out of 14 matches for Kings XI that year.
For the quintet of Tuesdays game,maybe it will boil down to luck. Sometimes it takes time for things to turn around.
* Live on Set Max,4pm