Virender Sehwag will look to make his mark for Kings XI Punjab in IPL 2014 © PTI
As the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is all set to begin in a few days’ time, every one among the franchises and the fans would be eagerly waiting to see how things pan out for the Indian players who are going through any kind of struggle. Devarchit Varma lists down the Indian cricketers for whom the IPL 7 is an important one in terms of their career.
The IPL 2014 begins on Wednesday with the defending champions Mumbai Indians (MI) taking on the winners of the 2012 edition, the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at Abu Dhabi. While the first 20 matches of the tournament would be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the IPL returns to India only in May for the remainder of the tournament. Unlike the previous editions, the challenges for the teams would be completely different and it will be interesting to see how the tournament goes for some of the Indian players, who are going through a lean patch or are facing some kind of trouble. Let’s take a look:
As Delhi Daredevils embarked on the task of revamping the side, the first victim was the dashing batsman Virender Sehwag. The right-hand batsman is already out of contention for a place in the national side and with Delhi taking him off from their list; one wondered if the career of the Nawab of Najafgarh was over. However, Kings XI Punjab bought him in the IPL 2014 auction. The strategy that KXIP have for him is even more encouraging. Coach Sanjay Bangar has revealed that they see him as a senior player who will give inputs on the field and also act as a captain off it, which relieves Sehwag from the burden of leading the side and the load of expectations. Sehwag will certainly enjoy the freedom that his new side has given to him, and now it is up to him to make the most of the opportunity.
All the efforts made by the southpaw have proved futile in his bid to make a comeback in the Indian side. He has had an ordinary run from the time he was axed from the national side. Gambhir went on to play County cricket but could manage only one century. In the domestic circuit too, his struggle for runs continued and Gambhir remains out of contention for the Indian side. He may continue to deny it, but IPL 2014 could prove to be an extremely critical one for the 32-year-old. The core of the Indian squad for ICC World Cup 2015 has already been formed and there could be a chance for the discarded seniors if India aim to add some more senior players. All that Gambhir needs is runs and it wouldn’t be any better if they come in the IPL.
In IPL 2014, Yuvraj Singh will be looking forward to prove a point by doing well © PTI
The star limited-overs all-rounder of the Indian cricket is on a downfall and all he needs is not a few good games, but many. Since his comeback to cricket, there have been occasional sparks of brilliance but everything faded away soon. Yuvraj’s struggle in the ICC World Cup 2014 final demolished all the praise he had earned with the half-century against Australia in the dead rubber. Yuvraj may be happy with the fact that in his new franchise, Royal Challengers Bangalore, he doesn’t have to carry the burden of expectations as the side already boasts of many big names. But in return, all eyes will be on him as to how he performs in this IPL. Yuvraj would have the freedom of playing with a free mind, away from expectations and pressure of performing.
The rock-solid Indian batsman has not got his due opportunities in the limited-overs cricket. In a desperate move to prove his worth, he even made statements such as to start bowling in the nets to improve his overall skills. Pujara, who hasn’t had a great run in IPL so far due to various reasons, will turn out for the Kings XI Punjab and he will be eager to prove his point.
The talented right-handed batsman hasn’t played an international match since September 2012. Kolkata Knight Riders dumped him in the auction this year and he returned to Delhi Daredevils with the hope to revive his career. The 28-year-old continues to be a bright prospect for the Indian cricket, but frequent injuries have dented his hopes many a times. He would be eager to make a strong impact in this season with the new franchise.
Saurabh Tiwary may fancy his chances to get a longer run in the Delhi Daredevils. He is an attacking batsman by nature and it will be crucial for him to excel in this tournament. A comeback into the national side is a distant goal, but he can turn around his fortunes by scoring heaps of runs in this edition of IPL.
Like many other seniors, Harbhajan Singh remains on the fringes. He played his last international match against Australia in 2013 and the lack of wickets continues to harm his reputation. However, with a good part of the IPL being played in the UAE, Harbhajan would hope to exploit the conditions as the likes of Saeed Ajmal and co have done in the past.
Touted to follow Virat Kohli in international cricket, the Delhi batsman has done little to maintain his surge. He had a poor run in the IPL 2013, but a stint with the Rajasthan Royals under the mentorship of Rahul Dravid promises a revival of Chand’s career. Chand would certainly hope that the guidance of Dravid helps him immensely as it has helped someone like Sanju Samson.
Shikhar Dhawan would be captaining Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL 2014 © PTI
Shikhar Dhawan might be a regular member of the Indian side, but the signs of danger have been evident in recent past. He has struggled for runs and was eventually left out of the Indian team in the later part of the ICC World T20 2014. Dhawan may feel the pressure of captaincy as his side Sunrisers Hyderabad are being seen as one of the favourites, but he cannot afford to let his game slip any more. The presence of David Warner and Aaron Finch would certainly take some pressure off him, and Dhawan would be eager to get back to his usual style of batting.
Irfan Pathan was bought by the Sunrisers Hyderabad for this IPL season. The all-rounder has many years of cricket left in him, and he would like to hone his skills while playing alongside spearhead Dale Steyn. Pathan has already declared that he would be using IPL as a platform for making a comeback, and his fans would hope that he achieves success in his goal.
Click here for IPL 2014 Schedule: Match time table for IPL 7
(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)