The IPL is over, and it’s time to turn our attention to the marquee international contest coming up, India’s tour of Australia. With no other competitive matches to follow, we look at the IPL form of the players who would be featuring in the bilateral series in Australia.
Ajinkya Rahane, who will be leading India in three Tests after Virat Kohli returns for paternity leave, has had diminishing returns in the IPL. To captain in Australia is difficult enough in any situation, but Rahane, a man who thrives when backed, will now head to that challenge with concerns over his personal form. He struggled to get into Delhi Capitals XI in the initial phase and when he got a chance, he didn’t set the stands alight. In the eight innings he played, apart from a 60 while chasing a middling total against Royal Challengers Bangalore, the 32-year-old didn’t provide the desired solidity. Rahane was out for single-digit scores in five knocks.
Shaw’s opening troubles
Mayank Agarwal and Rohit Sharma have had injuries of varying degrees in the IPL, and if it flares up again, India might have to turn to Prithvi Shaw in the Tests. However, with his last seven scores in the IPL reading 4, 0, 0, 7, 10, 9, 0, the youngster won’t be full of confidence as he was dropped by Delhi Capitals playing XI for the business end of the tournament. Apart from mental blues, technical deficiencies too had crept in: a problem against pacy short ball was ever present and the swinging delivery around off stump too had him lamely poking away from the body. Trent Boult had him on toast, so could Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.
Was Kuldeep even there?
Not too long ago, Kuldeep Yadav was part of an irresistible double spin attack for India in white-ball cricket and was touted for success in Tests as well. But the chinaman bowler seems to have been found out by a lot of opposition teams, so much so that Kolkata Knight Riders preferred Varun Chakravarthy over him. Yadav played just five matches, wasn’t even bowled in one of them and bowled his full quota of four overs in just one game.
Umesh, Out of sight, out of mind?
With figures of 0/48 and 0/35 (three overs) Umesh Yadav was deemed surplus to requirements by RCB after just two games. Even after playing 46 Tests, the pacer is dogged by inconsistency. He doesn’t have happy memories of the previous tour Down Under when he was the weak link on a pace-friendly Perth pitch. With Bhuvneshwar Kumar out with injury and Ishant Sharma on his way back from one, it could have opened the door for Umesh, but it seems Navdeep Saini has moved ahead of him.
Is Pant turning the corner?
One swallow doesn’t make a summer. Rishabh Pant had a forgettable IPL and looked a pale shadow of the free-scoring batsman that he usually is. A knock of 56 under pressure in the final may restore some confidence in a player who is not in the white-ball scheme of things for the Australian tour. An injury in the middle of the campaign didn’t help matters, but Pant seemed to be struggling against the tactic of bowling outside his hitting arc. He scored 343 runs at an average of 31.18, but a strike rate of just over 113 and nine sixes in 14 matches doesn’t usually make the desired impact in T20 games.
Will Thakur get a game?
Shardul Thakur finds himself in the jumbo touring party, pencilled in the ODI squad, probably only because of the unique current situation. Playing for the struggling Chennai Super Kings, the medium pacer was often targeted by the opposition and had a return of 10 wickets in nine matches. Not blessed with lightning speed, Thakur will have to be ultra-accurate and get the ball to deviate if he gets a chance.
Pandey under scanner
Suryakumar Yadav’s omission from the tour is likely to put the spotlight on Manish Pandey. He played throughout Sunrisers Hyderabad’s campaign and with the side heavily dependent on David Warner, he was expected to share some of the burden. Pandey came to the party off and on, but his technique of giving himself room and staying beside the line was often found wanting against quality pace or spin.
Virat Kohli: The Indian skipper didn’t have the greatest of IPLs by his lofty standards, with 466 runs in 15 games with three half-centuries.
Rohit Sharma: His fitness was the subject of more conjecture than his form. The Mumbai Indians skipper managed 332 runs in 12 games but came good in the final.
Shikhar Dhawan: He had a purple patch in the middle of the tournament when he scored two consecutive hundreds as he finished as the second-highest run-getter. But he had his share of low scores as well, a reflection of his international career.
KL Rahul: The Orange Cap winner couldn’t take his team to the playoffs and there was some criticism about his strike rate as well though his past suggests that he will bat lot more aggressively for India.
Hardik Pandya: He was in scary hitting form throughout the competition and bowlers were often clueless on where to bowl to him. His strike rate of close to 180 was one of the reasons for Mumbai Indians retaining the trophy.
Ravindra Jadeja: With the CSK batting floundering, he was more useful lower down the order with the bat than with his left-arm spin.
Mohammed Shami: He was one of the shining lights for Kings XI Punjab. He regularly got wickets with the new ball and kept things in check at the death. He displayed impressive control on the yorker.
Jasprit Bumrah: With 27 wickets and an economy rate of 6.73, MI’s banker was his usual self, delivering wickets and breaking the back of the opposition.
Marcus Stoinis: One of the stars of Delhi Capitals’ run to the final, he contributed with both bat and ball. With 352 runs in 17 games at an average of over 25 and strike rate of almost 150, coupled with 13 wickets, he could be a threat for India.
David Warner: Another season in which the Sunrisers captain scored more than 500 runs (548 in 16 games, average 39.14, strike rate 134.64). The left-hander will be a big threat on home turf.
Steve Smith: His struggles after two fifties early on were a big reason for Rajasthan Royals finishing at the bottom. But it will be foolish to write Smith off.
Pat Cummins: He didn’t get a bagful of wickets (12 in 14 games) but often got big scalps – such as Smith, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan.
Josh Hazlewood: He inexplicably played just three games for CSK even though he hardly let the team down.
Alex Carey: He replaced the injured Rishabh Pant for three games and didn’t do much to write home about.
Glenn Maxwell: He was a big disappointment with the bat for KXIP but delivered some handy spells with the ball. But he had been in great batting form for Australia coming into the IPL and may fire again against India.
James Pattinson: With 11 wickets in 10 games, he was a useful cog in MI’s potent pace attack.
Nathan Coulter-Nile: A sporadic inclusion, his bowling was key for MI in the final.
Aaron Finch: The Aussie white-ball captain largely struggled with the bat and was eventually dropped in favour of compatriot Josh Philippe.
Adam Zampa: The leg-spinner played just three games but was at his best in the last game against Sunrisers (1/12 in 4 overs).