By Devarchit Varma
The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2012 was the most entertaining and hard-fought, albeit a controversy-ridden affair. Nevertheless, it was the ideal opportunity for the Indian cricketers to gain confidence. Some had a chance to resurrect their careers and or even arrest a slide.
While batsmen such as Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina tasted some success, promising bowlers such as Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron made hay in the cash-rich Twenty20 league.
A near two-month long break comes as a blessing for the fatigued Indian cricketers. They can now spend quality time off the field and re-energise themselves for a heavily packed schedule ahead. The itinerary in the months ahead includes a One-Day International (ODI) series against Sri Lanka, home series against New Zealand, Twenty20 World Cup in Sri Lanka in September, Champions League T20, and the big one – a contest against England and a resurgent Australia in India.
As India gear up for a busy schedule after the much-needed breather, it is imperative that the national selectors and think-tank take stock of the situation and chalk out a list of players who fit the criteria. The frontline Indian cricketers had a mixed outing in the IPL 2012. Let’s take a look at the performances of India’s bench-strength which would give us a fair idea as to where they stand in the pecking order.
There was air of excitement surrounding Harbhajan Singh’s return to action after being dropped from the Indian team – a move that followed an injury. With important series’ lined up later this year, it is essential for India to have a quality spinner like Harbhajan and in form. Unfortunately, the Mumbai Indians captaincy job failed to spark fire in him. Not only did he disappoint as a leader, but his form with the ball was disastrous. He needs to do a lot more to convince the Indian selectors.
The $2 million buy for Chennai Super Kings failed to live up to the expectations and justify the highest price tag in the auction for the fifth edition. Apart from the isolated sparks, he failed to produce consistent performances despite getting a good run in the Chennai side. He had an ordinary outing, scoring 191 off 19 games at an average of 15.41, and bagging 12 wickets, which included a five-wicket haul against the Deccan Chargers.
His stats in IPL 2012 look good - 15 wickets in 12 games for Mumbai Indians. But Munaf wasn’t very convincing. He may have picked up wickets, but his economy rate of 7.90 spoils his record. Munaf played his last Test in July 2011, whereas his last ODI was in September 2011. To make matters worse, Munaf’s on-field behaviour was despicable.
The hard-hitting Yusuf was probably the biggest flop of the IPL 2012. In 17 games, Yusuf scored only 194 runs at an average of 19.40. His performance with the ball was disappointing as well, having taken only three wickets in the 17 games. Yusuf’s last outing for the national side was in the Asia Cup in March 2012, and his current form as an all-rounder isn’t encouraging enough for the selectors to give him a go in series against Sri Lanka. Apart from the knock against Delhi Daredevils in the first qualifier, Yusuf was a shadow of his destructive self.
As an all-rounder, Irfan too had an ordinary outing. In 17 matches, the left-arm seamer managed only eight wickets. With the bat, he recorded 176 runs off 12 innings at an average of 25.14.
The Chennai Super Kings batsman and India opener, Vijay failed to impress, despite few good innings at the business end of the tournament. Throughout the IPL season, he struggled to find form. The knocks against Delhi Daredevils (113 off 58 balls) and Kolkata Knight Riders in the final (42 off 32 balls) took his runs tally to 336 from 14 games in the fifth edition. He last played for India on the tour of the West Indies in 2011, and still has lot of work to do before being considered for national selection.
He didn’t play a game in IPL 2012 due to an injury, but he wasn’t missed by the Rajasthan Royals. The Indian cricketer played his last Test for India in August 2011, and his last ODI was the 2011 World Cup final. The speedster missed the home series against West Indies and was not considered for the Australia tour. It was evident in England that Sreesanth needed to do some homework. The IPL was an opportunity to prove that he had done some introspection. But injury kept him out and it isn’t clear whether he would be available for home series against New Zealand in August.
Nehra might have written to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) seeking an answer for his persistent ignorance for the national side, but he must back his claim for a place with good performances. The left-arm pacer took 11 wickets in 13 outings for the Pune Warriors India, and his reputation took another hit as he gave away too many runs in the death overs.
Parthiv’s performance with the bat in IPL 2012 wasn’t very encouraging, as the left-handed batsman managed 194 runs in 14 matches for the Deccan Chargers, at an average of 17.63. The selectors might give him a go in the series against Sri Lanka, but his fight to cement his place in the national side is still on.
Bought by Mumbai Indians from Kings XI Punjab, Karthik failed to justify the move. He played at No 4 in a star-studded Mumbai batting line-up, but could only manage 238 runs from 17 games, at an average of 18.30. The right-handed batsman wicketkeeper may be among the top choices in place of MS Dhoni in the national side, but he needs to prove more.
The right-arm spinner played his last Test match for India in 2008, while his last appearance in the blue jersey was during the 2011 World Cup. He bagged 16 wickets in as many games for Kings XI Punjab with a decent economy rate, but only a lucky break would see him in the side to play against Sri Lanka.
The left-handed Jharkhand and Royal Challengers Bangalore player, bought at a whopping price of USD 1.6 million, finds himself among the flops the season. He scored 191 runs in 15 games which isn’t very good for a player who is eyeing a place in a national side. His fielding skills, too, weren’t impressive enough.
(Devarchit Varma is a cricket fanatic who finds nothing more exciting to do than to write, watch or play cricket. An ardent Test cricket fan, he often goes alone to see his favourite players in action)