IPL 6: Five Indian players eyeing a comeback
Finally a whitewash. Or was it a brownwash? There couldn’t have been a better end to the international season for team India and now the attention shifts to the annual IPL razzmatazz.
Though many purists scorn upon the hit and giggle cricket where the off field glamour often takes precedence over the on field efforts, there is no denying that performance in the IPL catches the attention. While it serves as a launching pad for upcoming Indian youngsters, where they get to rub shoulders with international stars, it also acts as a platform for established players to regain their mojo.
Here’s a look at five Indian players for whom the upcoming edition of IPL might prove make or break.
It has been a season to forget for the Nawab of Nazafgarh. After being dropped from the ODI squad after the series against Pakistan, he was shown the doors from the Test squad following his failures in the first two Tests against Australia. To make matters worse, Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan revelled in his absence and, considering his age, the pundits doubt if he can stage a comeback. Once considered the greatest exponent of hand-eye coordination, Sehwag struggled when a pair of specs were thrown into the equation.
The IPL comes at the right time for the dashing opener to ascertain his importance as the T20 version will give him the freedom to play his brand of cricket. Apart from being the captain, he is also the marquee batsman in the Delhi Daredevil line up and the added responsibility might act as a catalyst to bring out his A game to the fore.
Sehwag’s Delhi mate and former opening partner Gautam Gambhir also finds himself on the same boat. After a prolonged lean patch, which saw him go without a century for three years, he was made the first casualty of the home loss against England. The new selection panel made it clear that the supposedly new wall of Indian cricket has too many cracks to guard the Indian fort.
Like Sehwag, Gambhir too will be at the helm of affairs in the Kolkata Knight Riders camp and will have the little matter of defending the IPL championship. The feisty left-hander has been prolific in the T20 version over the years and a settled KKR squad will give him the leverage to put some overtime on his own game.
He was proclaimed as the ‘Tendulkar’ of India’s attack by skipper MS Dhoni but very much like the original Tendulkar, the pace spearhead hasn’t been at his best since the World Cup. After being dropped for the Nagpur Test, the left-arm pacer went back to the domestic circuit to regain his form but a calf injury halted his progress.
India managed to win four Tests without him, but with India scheduled to participate in the Champions Trophy in England and three away tours in the coming season, Zaheer’s presence is indispensable. Though bowling just four overs is nothing compared to the grind a bowler goes through in Test cricket, the tournament will provide an opportunity to the ace paceman to get some useful overs under his belt and regain his rhythm.
Can India ever produce an out and out fast bowler? Umesh Yadav seemed to be the answer to the eternal question. Bowling at a lively pace with an ability to reverse swing the ball made him a potent weapon even in the dry home conditions. But before he could blossom, a stress fracture to the back cut short his progress.
The young pacer is expected to share the new ball with the likes of Morne Morkel for Delhi Daredevils and will look to slowly increase his workload and work his way towards full fitness. The ability to bowl fast is his biggest strength and along with Delhi the Indian team management will be closely monitoring Yadav’s progress as he attempts to reach full throttle.
A number of young Indian batsmen made their mark in the national side but Rohit Sharma, probably the most gifted of the lot, somehow continues to find himself in the wilderness. Despite being given numerous opportunities in limited overs cricket he hasn’t been able to do justice to his obvious talent. There has been the odd innings of substance but due to lack of consistency he often finds himself in the fringes.
But its a different story in the IPL. First for Deccan Chargers and now for Mumbai Indians, the stylish middle order batsman has time and again shown his class in the franchise format. Be it building the innings in the middle overs or chasing stiff targets, time and again Sharma has shown maturity and calmness in difficult situations along with clean hitting prowess to bail his team out of trouble. The Mumbaikar would be keen to continue this habit and stay in reckoning for a national call up.
Apart from these five there are also the likes of Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Piyush Chawla, Praveen Kumar amongst others who will have a point or two to prove. The team priorities along with a number of high profile personal agendas surely makes IPL 6 a heady cocktail.