Has the IPL lived up to its true purpose?
The Indian Premier League has completed eight seasons now. In these eight years, the league has seen a lot of changes in the format, squads, as well as the strategies adopted by the teams. IPL has also grabbed a lot of attention due to wrong reasons with some players and officials being involved in fixing scandals. However, all these controversies helped the league grow and in-spite of continuous criticism, it has managed to be earn the maximum number of viewers. The most watched league in cricket which was started by BCCI in 2008 has undoubtedly been a huge hit among the cricket fans but does it make it successful?
For all those who think success is all about cashing in the popularity by earning money or an increased viewership, there is more to it. Success is when an initiative is able to fulfill what it promised and is able to reach it's goal or aim. As the tagline says,'Where talent meets opportunity', Indian Premier League was started with an aim of providing a platform to the youngsters where they could compete with the best players from around the world and can get the much needed exposure at the International level. Has it been able to achieve that is however another story.
The first season of IPL started with a lot of youngsters making their mark. The emergence of domestic players like Swapnil Asnodkar, Yo Mahesh, Manpreet Gony and Niraj Patel showed a lot of promise for the future with Gony even making it to the Indian team after his brilliant performances for the Chennai Super kings.
But as the league has moved on, it has become more of a retirement plan and a mode to make a comeback in the Indian team for out of favour Indian players, Yuvraj Singh and Dinesh Karthik the latest examples for the same earning Rs.16 crores and Rs.14 crores respectively which sound even more shocking after looking at their contributions for their respective teams. Irfan Pathan who was bought for Rs.1.5 crore this season by Chennai Super Kings never made an appearance.
As the competition has moved on, we have seen more and more one season wonders than future Indian legends. The league has not been able to provide the Indian team with many consistent performers. Manpreet Gony, Sudeep Tyagi and Saurabh Tiwary who were given a chance after one good season lost their place in the side soon. Their form worsened over the years that they were even benched by their franchisees and some of them don’t even have a contract now.
On the other hand players like Asnodkar, Paul Valthaty, Kamran Khan who caught a lot of attention in their early games and were contenders for a spot in the Indian side are not even a part of IPL anymore. It is hard to believe that Asnodkar was once compared with The great Sachin Tendulkar.
If we look at the players who made it to the Indian team after their IPL stints we’ll find a long list which includes:
1. Manpreet Gony
2. Abhishek Nayar
3. Saurabh Tiwary
4. Vinay Kumar
5. Naman Ojha
6. Rahul Sharma
7. Parvinder Awana
These are players who have failed to hold on to their spots in the national side despite showing a lot of initial promise.
The stats show that seasoned players who have been consistent performers at domestic cricket are still given preference over the IPL stars. In the last few years, Cheteshwar Pujara and Lokesh Rahul have emerged through the ranks of domestic cricket and they are not even regular starters for their IPL teams. The league surely provides a lot of entertainment for the crowd and also gives a chance to players, owners and companies to fill their pockets but somewhere has lost it's way to promote the young talent.
However, there have been players like Shreyas Iyer, Sarfaraz Khan, Sanju Samson and Yuzvendra Chahal who still promise a lot. If treated right, they could be the future of Indian cricket. Sanju Samson at the of 20 looks a real deal and could be a long time replacement for MS Dhoni. He was hugely impressive in his first season with the Rajasthan Royals in which he scored 206 runs from 11 matches with an average of 25.75 and a strike rate of 115.73. He was rewarded by the Royals who retained him for the next season and he improved on his numbers by scoring 339 runs from 13 matches with an average of 26.07 and a strike rate of 124.17.
Chahal who moved to RCB in 2014 from Mumbai Indians where he could manage only one appearance in three seasons saw a complete change in fortunes. In his first season with RCB, he picked up 12 wickets from 14 matches with an impressive economic rate of 7.01. In the next season, he has come out as a wicket taking bowler by picking up 23 wickets from 15 matches. He could be Indian’s answer to their spin problems in Test matches. Shreyas Iyer who is relatively new to the league scored 439 runs from 14 matches at an average of 33.36 and a healthy strike rate of 128.36. For a 20 year old playing in his first IPL, these are some really good numbers.
So, even though one can argue that currently the true purpose of the IPL hasn’t been served completely, the future isn’t completely blank. We have had some youngsters making their mark this season, and hopefully there are more to come in the coming editions.