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CLOSE-IN: A League to hail Champions

CLOSE-IN: A League to hail Champions

The Indian Premier League (IPL’24) has once again blossomed into unearthing the young hidden gems of Indian cricket. The league has become a tournament in which successful cricketers, old and new, emerge as champions. With the presence of cricket stars of the past, the entire cricket fraternity, as well as millions of followers, the IPL has become the platform for cricketers to achieve greatness.

One truly marvels at the recovery of Rishabh Pant after his life-threatening accident. To be back on the cricket field in just over a year and perform the way he is doing, is truly remarkable. The Indian selectors must be heaving a sigh of relief having a fit Pant back just before the T20 World Cup’24.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, is another remarkable story of the IPL 2024. He has not played cricket for a year, has been through knee surgery and lo and behold, is back to doing duty for the Chennai Super Kings. One wondered, whether, at 42 years, he had it in him to perform at this level. His ability to still hit effortless sixes in the 37 runs cameo he played against Delhi Capitals sealed any doubts. Similar to James Anderson, Dhoni has shown that age is just a number and to have them both still peddling their wares is simply exceptional.

The latest to make his mark in the echelons of cricket from out of the blue is Mayank Yadav. The Delhi fast bowler recorded a bowling speed of 156.7 kmph and apart from his ferocious pace, he showed accuracy and consistency as well. The new superstar from the Lucknow franchise of the IPL’24, via his performance, is at present the prime attraction of cricket lovers and connoisseurs not only in India but also from all over the cricket world.

A genuine speedster in cricket has always had that aura of a champion warrior. The world has always admired speed in all forms of sport and hurling the red, white or pink cherry at a breathtaking speed in cricket is no different.

The West Indies cricket teams of the 70s and 80s had a handful of these dreaded pacers who were instrumental in demolishing opponents. This was the sole reason why West Indies dominated cricket then and people flocked to see and enjoy batters ducking and swerving from the fast-bowling missiles.

It was pace bowling that the world of cricket looked at as the most effective way to ensure victory. India was the only side that saw spin as its potent weapon. The Indian spin quartet, popularly termed the “Indian Rope Trick”, became famous, as India won matches without a genuine fast bowler to support them.

It was only after the success of Kapil Dev, India’s greatest pace-bowling all-rounder, that brought about a transformation in Indian cricket. Young fast bowlers, thereafter, have entered the Indian cricket scene, all wanting to emulate the famous Indian legend.

India presently has the best pace-bowling attack in the world. Jasprit Bumrah is at the very top, followed by the likes of Md. Shami, Siraj and a host of others are all ready to get into the fray. The IPL has brought in two genuine 155-kmph-and-above bowlers Mayank Yadav and Umran Malik. The latter was the find of the IPL’22 and has since then played for India. He lacked in accuracy and consistency and is, therefore, struggling to retain his place in the playing eleven. One hopes he matures soon, as having two genuine quick bowlers in the stable, will make India a threat to any of the world’s cricketing sides, especially if they plan on preparing a hard fast wicket. The success of the change from being a spin-oriented nation to a pace-based one for Indian cricket has been due to the 17 editions of the IPL

Pace bowlers are mushrooming from all over India and the IPL is giving them the ideal platform to hone their skills.

The area that is truly also blossoming for Indian cricket is batting. Young talent is emerging in plentiful to give the older ones a run for their money. Ryan Parag from Assam and Rajasthan Royals is a good example of a batter who has transformed into a top-level player.

Abhishek Sharma, a prodigy from Punjab and now playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad and Angkrish Raghuvanshi from Mumbai playing for Kolkata Knight Riders are two unknown entities who are now emerging as rising stars of Indian cricket. The rise to fame is a good example of an emerging domestic cricketer getting recognition through the IPL.

The International player, who was auctioned for Rs 24.75 crore and bought by Kolkata Knight Riders and has to yet make his mark is Mitchell Starc of Australia. The pressure of such a hefty number riding on one has been the downfall of many of the pricey cricketers in the past. Starc will need to do something extraordinary and quickly or else he will also suffer the same fate.

The captaincy controversy concerning Hardik Pandya of Mumbai Indians is unnecessary. The followers of the team, rather than encouraging their side, are creating a negative impact. The most welcoming sign for Indian cricket is to finally have their star all-rounder, Hardik Pandya, fit for the selection of the T20 World Cup’24.

Ravindra Jadeja suffered the same ignominy last year when he took over the captaincy of CSK from Dhoni. Winning is all that matters and Mumbai Indians have shown in the past that they have the mental strength to overcome their initial failures. However, the team to beat seems to be Rajasthan Royals, who are enjoying themselves at the top via a perfect start.

(Yajurvindra Singh is a former India cricketer. The views expressed are personal)


Tags: Cricket IPL 2024