Updated: May 12, 2016 4:10:20 pm
IN A cricket season that knows no start and no finish, is the IPL the beginning or the end? Or do we reconcile to the fact that cricket seasons are not linear but circular? The IPL ends in May but by June 11, India are already playing a limited overs series in Zimbabwe and the following month, four Tests in the West Indies. Indian cricket is a perpetual motion machine! But cricketers and their bodies cannot be so and that is why we expect to see a lot of first team regulars rested for the games in Zimbabwe.
That in itself, isn’t a bad thing because it permits those on the fringes to press their claims and allows younger players to get the feel, and indeed the responsibility, of wearing India colours. Sometimes it is as fascinating to see the next generation appear and that is why I look forward to the IPL every year. And I want to see players whom I haven’t seen before.
From that point of view, I have been a touch disappointed during this edition of the IPL. There’s been the unusual action of Shivil Kaushik but he needs to prove that there is more to him than the way he delivers a cricket ball. In a couple of games Rishabh Pant looked like he might be good for more. And so, that leaves only two that really made any impact.
Krunal Pandya did for the Mumbai Indians playing in a manner young players from Gujarat seem to enjoy; bowl flat and quick, hit the ball cleanly and field with energy and intent. From the school of Ravindra Jadeja came Axar Patel and now Pandya. I have found a name to look for in scoreboards next year though I will be asking around to see if he is turning the ball away from the right handers a bit more.
But I must confess I loved watching Murugan Ashwin. I so hope he finds a good mentor but even more, a good captain because he turns the leg break and bowls a meanish googly. Indeed, the appearance of leg spinners everywhere is so heartening though you need to see if they can take wickets when the batsman isn’t trying to hit them out of the ground!
I don’t know if either of the four did enough to challenge the selectors for a place to what really should be seen as an India ‘A’ tour to Zimbabwe. Not because Zimbabwe don’t deserve a full strength team, arrogance has no place here, but because this is the only time for the senior players to rest and work on their fitness. Frequently, an India ‘A’ tour is mistaken for an Under-25 selection but a big part of the objective is also to tell fringe players that the door isn’t shut on them. Sometimes players haven’t had too much top level cricket during the season and this can be their chance.
And so, here are a few names for you to mull over and challenge for we are all selectors at heart, aren’t we? I wonder if India will still want someone like Suresh Raina to take the team there or look for a leader elsewhere. And I don’t know if the selectors will want to see Bhuvaneshwar Kumar’s outstanding form continue at the international level.
On the assumption that they don’t need to, and that Raina will be seen to be a good candidate, here is a possible list.
Suresh Raina, Robin Uthappa, Sanju Samson, Karun Nair, Manish Pandey, Suryakumar Yadav, Lokesh Rahul, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Yuzhvendra Chahal, Sandeep Sharma, Mohit Sharma, Barinder Sran, Dhawal Kulkarni and either of Pawan Negi or Jayant Yadav.
It’s not a bad group actually!
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