The IPL’s earliest years had sought to have more local talent in its ranks among the franchises, and it certainly changed the lives of several cricketers who were discovered from catchment areas. Franchises brought newer localised talent and these unknowns — rookies and at times journeymen — were thrown onto the mega-stage to dream big and dazzle bigger.
However, with the BCCI deciding to throw all players into the auction pool, IPL 7 will see many different players from different states playing for a franchise, quite apart from their own state or zone.
The trend is towards scouting across the whole country, casting a net far and wide and not staying reliant on only the locals. For instance, Rajasthan have five Mumbai players in Ajinkya Rahane, Dhawal Kulkarni, Abhishek Nayar, Iqbal Abdulla and Pravin Tambe. These players till a few years ago were best-known as Mumbai’s Ranji boys but now they’ll don very different hats, and a more royal hue of blue than the MI colours.
Delhi Daredevils meanwhile, have just one from the capital in Milind Kumar, whereas Mumbai Indians only have Aditya Tare and Sushant Marathe amongst its non-international Mumbai boys.
Kings XI Punjab continue to invest heavily in players like Mandeep Singh, Manan Vohra, Gurkeerat Singh, Mandeep Singh and Karanveer Singh, but Royal Challengers Bangalore don’t have a single player from their own state. Sunrisers Hyderabad may have retained Ashish Reddy, Ricky Bhui and Chama Milind and Kolkata Knight Riders have brought two Bengal players Sayan Mondal and Veer Pratap Singh, but the local flavour has paved the path for a more pan-Indian palate.
However, for some players this trend might come as a blessing in disguise. For instance, Mumbai’s Kulkarni and Abdulla have been part of Mumbai Indians and KKR earlier but having a star studded line-up meant both had to wait for their chances back then. Kulkarni stayed buried in a team-sheet that boasted seamers like Munaf Patel, Lasith Malinga, Keiron Pollard and even Zaheer Khan. It wasn’t easy to break into IPL sides, teeming with international players. This rejigging might force the local boys out of their comfort zones, but that isn’t necessarily a bad outcome.
(Devendra Pandey is a special correspondent. He is based in Mumbai.)